Grace. This undeserved, unearned gift is at the center of our faith at Connected Families. Yet, most parents struggle with defining or explaining grace to kids. If you’re here reading this, you probably already know you need grace every single day. And if you’d like a creative idea for how to explain grace to a child…read on.
You can pinpoint many times when you could be judged for mistakes and missteps, selfishness and sin, unbelief and unfaithfulness… all the things. Yet God, and hopefully loved ones around you, keep handing you grace and mercy for those daily rough spots. This song (Holy Water) says it well:
Your forgiveness is like sweet, sweet honey on my lips
Like the sound of a symphony to my ears
Like holy water on my skin
I don’t wanna abuse your grace
God, I need it every day
It’s the only thing that ever really makes me wanna change
You recognize and savor grace when you receive it, but do your kids understand the nuances of the wonderful gift of God’s grace? Do they think of it as just getting off the hook for something they did?
Explaining grace to your kids can be a start, but to really understand it, they’ll need to experience grace. And when is the best opportunity you get to demonstrate grace? When your child is misbehaving or made a big mistake.
A key thought at Connected Families is, “Misbehavior is the golden opportunity for true, unconditional love.” But we’d like to suggest that the platinum opportunity in misbehavior is for kids to understand God’s extraordinary grace and mercy. So get ready for your child’s next display of their worst side; it’s a valuable opportunity to demonstrate grace in terms they’ll understand.
It is so easy to get caught up in the moment with your child’s misbehavior, responding in knee-jerk fashion to attempt to get a particular behavior to STOP. Or to prevent World War III from breaking out.
Of course, that requires some thoughtful, big-picture parenting and not defaulting to the goal of a quick fix in the moment. Sometimes, swift discipline does make misbehavior stop. But does it teach grace and result in a child’s changed heart or in a deeper understanding of how actions affect others and their relationship with God?
If you hope your children will walk in grace and truth, it’s wise to consider: How do I want them to view God when they mess up?
This dad had that question in mind when he creatively explained grace in tangible terms to his daughter after her difficult outburst.
Using a cell phone to demonstrate grace
A young dad named Ted sent us this story about an opportunity he had to share grace (as well as a lifelong lesson about the character of our heavenly Father) with his misbehaving daughter.
I was working hard to encourage Liddy, my seven-year-old, in her piano practice. She was having a rough day, and it spiraled into a massive meltdown. As she was shouting and screaming, I subtly began to record her outburst on my phone. I wanted to build insight in a grace-filled way, so I waited until we connected that night at bedtime. I showed Liddy the video and asked if she liked feeling that way. She was discouraged and ashamed. “Daddy, I don’t like seeing that,” she answered.
Grace is letting God erase the evidence
At moments like this, a parent might say, “If you don’t like how you acted, you can choose a different response next time.”
Yet, Ted went another route:
The Lord helped me to see Liddy’s struggle with eyes of compassion. I saw an excellent opportunity to shape her heart with a valuable truth. I explained that because of what Jesus has done for us, when we ask for forgiveness, God forgets our sins and doesn’t look back. “It’s like He deletes the recording,” I explained. Then I asked if she wanted to say anything. She looked up and said, “I want your forgiveness and God’s forgiveness. And I want to delete it.”
Liddy watched me hit the delete button and smiled in relief as the vivid reminder of her failure disappeared. As we said bedtime prayers, she thanked God for His forgiveness.
Liddy’s parents persisted with grace when she struggled; over time, she learned to walk in God’s grace and channel it for others. Liddy is now a respectful, confident, compassionate college student who loves the Giver of all grace.
This example is not a recommendation to record your child’s misbehavior on your phone. That might be helpful for some, but certainly not all kids. The point is, “How could you bring grace to your unique kids when they struggle?”
In these moments, parents can uniquely and intimately influence their children’s hearts. After all, no one is better positioned to influence a child’s heart than that child’s parent.
“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”Isaiah 43:25
Explaining grace is all about demonstrating grace
When undeserved love is regularly demonstrated in families, it defines household life. Parents and kids alike learn to return to a base of “love no matter what.” Squabbles and trials will still occur, but they’ll lose their defining power. True reconciliation will happen, and kids will be primed to better understand God’s grace.
Because God’s grace isn’t about “getting let off the hook”. It is about receiving steadfast, unfailing love when it’s undeserved. It’s about the forgiveness and restoration of a joy-filled relationship offered free of charge through what Christ did on the cross for us. G.R.A.C.E: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. And the richest gift of all is to know we are deeply loved by our Father.
As you become more thoughtful about explaining and demonstrating grace, your kids experience true discipline (the making of disciples). They can grow to believe, “I am loved (by God and my family) —no matter what!”
We have a FREE PDF for you (borrowed from our Sensitive & Intense Kids Online Course) for a hands-on activity to explain to your kids God’s grace and mercy that washes away our sins. When all is calm, you can teach the concepts in a memorable way with this fun activity and then remind kids of it when things get tough.
We hope you will check it out – we love nothing more than to help parents receive God’s grace and truth for themselves and then pass it on to their children!
“In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us….” Ephesians 1:7, 8a