The only way to parent with the same grace that God gives to us, is to offer our children the same grace God gives for our imperfections. If we demand perfection of our children to keep us looking good or to keep them faithful then we are already failures. And we are living under the self-deception that we can do what the Word of God says we cannot, create perfect followers of the law.
When we live in a house of perfection we live in a house of constant accusation. That’s because the law, that defines perfection, is an accuser, and not an unfair one at that: they aren’t trumped up charges. But because the law constantly accuses us, we tend to become accusers of others who aren’t keeping the law as well as we think we are. We rationalize this because, after all, we all want something better for our kids, and so if it takes a ‘scared straight’ approach so they can avoid the same mistakes we made in our youth we will do it. Of course this is an exercise in futility and rooted in a prosperity gospel of parenting, which imagines that our kids deserve a better life than we had. But imagining that our kids will be perfect and never fall into sin is a gross mishandling and misrepresentation of the gospel.
Disciples are not made primarily on lecture, instruction, or discipline, but by observation of the discipler by the disciple. That means how we parent our child bears tremendous weight on the discipleship of our child.
In the time of Jesus, his disciples were called followers because they literally followed him around, listening to what he said and doing what he did. He was the one the disciples would imitate. So what then of the little disciples in our homes? Would it be a good thing or a bad thing for them to imitate us, to follow in our footsteps, to walk in our ways? Not to walk in the ways of our sin, but in the ways of our demand for perfection from others: not to walk in the ways of our past, but in the ways of our present?
This is the inherent danger of creating disciples of anyone but of Jesus himself. The only thing that we are qualified to be is a sinner saved by grace. If we want to disciple our kids to be perfect then we have to be living that way ourselves, otherwise we are telling them one thing and living another and that hypocrisy is then easily imitated by our kids who learn to live a double life just like we do.
The way we parent/disciple has to lead our children to a clear and biblical view of the gospel. And that means perfectionism can’t be the goal, being successful can’t be the goal, being well-mannered, being seen and not heard, turning out better than we did, being religious, patriotic, moral, none of these can be the goal. But to have a right view of God and of man, and a clear and intimate understanding of the gospel of grace, and to build a house that prodigals yearn to run back to, that is the goal of the discipling parent.
Excerpt From: Michael DiMarco. “House of Grace – Big Sinners Raising Little Sinners.”