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Graced Based Parenting


Grace Based ParentingCh. 1Ch. 2Ch. 3Ch. 4Ch. 5Ch. 6


David Butts, Minister to Children’s Education, and Nanette Johnson, Minister to Preschool, provide a book review over Grace Based Parenting, written by Dr. Tim Kimmel.



Book Review: Grace Based Parenting

Author: Dr. Tim Kimmel

Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 2004


Chapter 1 – Why Well Meaning Parents Fall Short

Dr. Kimmel equates the job of raising children to that of working a jigsaw puzzle – without the border pieces to give you clear boundaries or the picture to know what will be the end result. The challenge is this, “You’ve been handed a piece of history in advance – a gracious gift you send to a time you will not see – and you play the biggest role in how that history will ultimately be recorded. That’s why, in spite of the challenges, you need to have a plan for parenting that works.” (p 2)

Our culture has thrown all kinds of “extra pieces” into the puzzle box, which can confuse the ultimate goal of equipping your child to become a healthy adult who relates well to others by representing Christ’s love. Dr. Kimmel states, “One of the primary roles that God gave Christian parents is to create adults who reflect His heart.” (p 11) So he asks, “Are we effective at producing the kinds of kids who are anxious to be used of God to reform the world around them?” (p 10)

After listing several “typical” parenting styles, Dr. Kimmel shares that a better way of parenting is by Grace which is the way God deals with us. Grace based parenting allows for the freedom to be different and to make mistakes, it strengthens the trust level between parent and child, and encourages there to be a real relationship. However, grace in the home does not mean there is a lack of obedience, respect, boundaries or discipline. (p 20)

Understanding the three inner needs of your child and how to meet those needs is key to parenting with Grace. Grace Based Parenting focuses on what every child’s inner needs are: a need for security, significance, and strength. In order to meet these needs, every child should be given love, purpose and hope. Meeting these needs happens in the day-to-day living. “Grace is not so much what we do as parents, but how we do what we do.” (p 25)

As the scripture says, this is more about a process than an event – “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (p 26)

Book Review of Grace Based Parenting

Author: Dr. Tim Kimmel

Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 2004


Chapter 2 – The Truth Behind Grace

In this chapter Dr. Kimmel points out that the great Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis once said, “grace is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions”. If grace is the foundation on which our relationship with God is based, then grace should be the approach for the way we parent our children. “… if the bottom line of parenting is grace, then that should affect how you develop goals for your children, how you handle discipline, how you process their fears, how you deal with their quirks and idiosyncrasies, and how you respond to their fads. Grace keeps you from clamping down on their spirits when they move through awkward transitions and walk through the valley of the shadow of adolescence.” (p. 29)

Dr. Kimmel confronts two approaches that many parents may have, but neither one is the focus of grace based parenting. The first can be identified as a legalistic approach to parenting. It looks at how well your children are following the rules as the measure of your parenting skills. They reject the notion of grace based parenting because they see grace in parenting as equal to giving a license for children to act without consequences to their actions. “They think grace allows children to do their own thing and make their own decisions at the expense of moral absolutes. They believe grace is light on discipline and doesn’t enforce rules.” (p. 34)

The other extreme to this first approach would be those who have a false understanding of grace. They believe that unconditional love and acceptance will ultimately win out to our children making bad choices. This approach cheapens grace as Paul points out in Romans. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:1-2)

Neither approach demonstrates grace in our parenting and are both equally harmful. “Rules not tempered by grace block relationships with our children and lead to rebellion. On the other side, relationships without rules don’t result in grace either. In fact, that is the ideal formula for raising resentful kids.” (p. 37)

“There is a place for rules, even for strictness, in a grace-based home, but how they are presented makes all the difference on how they are received. On the other hand, seeing grace as an excuse not to parent your children within the boundaries of godliness is equally repugnant to God. Home has got to be a place where our children are safe from the traps of the world and assured that they have parents who won’t surrender God’s standards – even to them.” (p. 40-41)


Book Review: Grace Based Parenting

Author: Dr. Tim Kimmel

Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 2004


Chapter 3 – A Secure Love

Dr. Tim Kimmel opens this third chapter with these words, “All children are born with a need to love and be loved, a need to live lives that have meaning.” (p 43) Life is all about security, significance, and strength. A secure love is a complete love that a child hangs onto when their heart is hurt. It is a love that will be carried with them into the future; a love that is covered with grace.

Dr. Tim Kimmel explains that some parent’s love can be incomplete when two things occur.  When our children have to compete for love (p 49) and when they feel they have to earn the love (p 51). Dr. Kimmel continues by defining love: “Love is the commitment of my will to your needs and best interests, regardless of the cost.” (p 52) He goes deeper with this definition by explaining that a “complete” love makes decisions based on the covenant, it meets actual needs not selfish desires and is often painful and inconvenient. (p 52-53) This kind of complete love is exactly how God loves us.

With this kind of love established, the next step is to make that love secure in your child. Security keeps the child from second-guessing their parent’s love, minimizes their search for false love, and solidifies true love that will last forever. There are three things that give a child a sense of security: when they know they are accepted as they are; when they are affiliated with a loving and honoring family; and when they receive regular, generous helpings of affection. (pp 54-63)

This chapter on secure love closes with scripture from 1 Peter 4:8-10. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (p 66)

Book Review of Grace Based Parenting

Author: Dr. Tim Kimmel

Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 2004


Chapter 4 – A Significant Purpose

This chapter is devoted to helping parents identify the unique purpose each of our children have in this world and it is our responsibility to recognize, develop and help our children understand their purpose. “Although many people can contribute to this process, it is the child’s parent’s that carry the greatest potential for influence. We’re the ones who donated (in most cases) the basic ingredients for their DNA. We’re the ones who were given the naming rights. We’re the ones who invest most of the time and put up most of the money toward our children’s best interests. That makes us the best candidates for grooming the limitless creativity God has built into their lives. It also places us in the default position of being the single most influential obstacle to our children’s developing a significant purpose.” (p.71)

Dr. Kimmel points how very important our responsibility as parents to help our children find their purpose and what are the consequences for us if we fail. “If we fail to address our children’s need for a significant purpose, it doesn’t mean they will necessarily end up living useless and unproductive lives. In most case, our lack of deliberateness in grooming their sense of purpose sends them into the future with a foreboding sense of irrelevancy and far more vulnerable to Satan’s counterfeits.” (pp. 71-72) If we choose not to deliberately develop our children’s potential then they may very well go into adulthood with an underdeveloped, revengeful or wasted purpose.

“Our children were born with a need to find a purpose in life, and there are several levels in which that purpose needs to be found.

A General Purpose:  Leaving the world nicer than you found it, making a commitment to a lifetime of learning, paying attention to what you learn from life’s experience so that you are more valuable to others, and being committed to developing the potential of as many people as you can are general purposes that are good to install in the hearts of each one of your children.

A Specific Purpose:  When we make it our goal to notice their talent and then build structure around those talents, we set our children up to enjoy a significant purpose as part of their lifestyle.

A Relational Purpose:  Wise parents teach their children how to love, how to be forthright, how to be transparent with close friends, how to confront and how to forgive.

A Spiritual Purpose:  Your children have two choices and only two choices. They can give their lives to the Lord or not give their lives to the Lord. But if they choose not to, they—by default—are handing that area over to the forces of evil. Neutrality is not an option. (pp. 75-80)

Dr. Kimmel closes this chapter by giving steps to developing a significant purpose in your child through affirmation, attention, admonishment.


A Strong Hope

Anything – minus hope – equals nothing. Hope is the human equivalent of oxygen when it comes to a person’s ability to live effectively. … Without hope it is impossible to live a balanced life.” (p 95) In this chapter Dr. Kimmel stresses that of the three inner needs: secure love, significant purpose and strong hope – the first two really rest upon hope. When children are raised by parents who set a strong example of placing their confidence in the one true God and then treat them with grace as Jesus treated others, the child will be able to have a secure hope which can trust in a better future.

The very first way of instilling hope in your child is in the early stage of life when they are totally helpless. As parents meet their child’s every need in a timely fashion, this lays a solid foundation for strong hope. Meeting these needs means sacrifice on the parent’s part. “We instill a strong hope in our children when we curb our own wants in order to guarantee their needs. By living below our means and avoiding the tyranny of excessive consumer debt, we free ourselves to provide for these physical needs and keep our children from having to sense the helplessness of financial bondage.” (p 99)

Thankfully, the helpless stage does not last forever! Children need to be given responsibilities as they outgrow their helplessness. These responsibilities need to set them up to achieve well, building their confidence and their strength. As children grow, parents need to pay close attention to their child’s God-given abilities. These strengths need to be encouraged so the child has assets for their future. Parents also have a responsibility to encourage a life of “great spiritual adventure”.

Dr. Kimmel summarize this chapter like this: “Children need parents who tailor a plan to turn their unique, God-given abilities into assets, who aren’t afraid to lead the way  in living a great spiritual adventure, and who work to turn both their victories and their defeats into a series of accomplishments. Abilities, adventure, and accomplishments – they form a recipe for a strong hope.” (p 125)

Chapter 6 – A Delivery System for Grace

Grace-based parenting works from the inside out. It is all about having concern for the child’s heart and their heart being connected to God’s heart. That is why it is so important for us, as parents, to ask God for his grace in order to have the wisdom to listen to our children instead of lecturing, to be able to respond to them instead of reacting, to engage them instead of dismiss them and to pray for them and with them instead of becoming the judge. (p. 129) “The success of our parenting plan rests far more on our personal and daily relationship with Christ than any other factor.” (p. 133)

In this chapter, Dr. Kimmel introduces the four basic pillars needed to maintain a grace-based environment for children. These four “freedoms” serve as a filter system for managing the day-to-day challenges of raising a child and give discernment for delivering grace at any given moment.

1.The Freedom to be Different 
    Because they are children they will be weird, unique, strange or quirky (discussed in Ch. 7,p.  143)

2.The Freedom to be Vulnerable 
    Because they are children they are in a fragile state of flux with immature emotions
    (discussed in Ch. 8, p.163)

3.The Freedom to be Candid 
    They need a place to speak freely without fear (discussed in Ch. 9, p. 185)

4.The Freedom to make Mistakes 
    Children will sin, parents should not be surprised but love unconditionally
    (discussed in Ch. 10, p.   216)

“What happens inside the four walls of a family home does more to affect the outcome of children’s lives than any other single factor. The home is where life is making  up its mind.” (p. 211)