What if our goal, as parents, wasn’t to control our kids, but to set them free?  What if an eventual goal for our parenting was to launch our kids into the world, not just let them go?  What if we spent less time trying to mold our kids so that they impress our friends, and more time helping them unfold into the godly man or woman that God desires for them to be?  Yeah, now that would be something.

Dr. Tim Kimmel has written over 20 books on parenting.  I have interviewed him before for this blog.  You can read that post here.  He has two books that stand out to me.  They are: Raising Kids for True Greatness and Grace-Based Parenting.  These books are full of great wisdom when it comes to raising your kids in a healthy environment, with healthy goals in mind.

In his weekend seminars based on this material, he outlines 4 freedoms that grace-based parents should give their children.  They are simple, yet profound.

Working at a summer camp is a great way to begin understanding a small portion of the intricacies of being a parent.  In fact, when it comes to training our summer staff at Pine Cove, we teach a combined seminar on parenting and discipleship.  We do this because we recognize one flows out of the other.  We adapted Dr. Tim Kimmel’s parenting material to fit in the context of summer camp.

Below is a clip from one of these sessions, where I am teaching on these 4 freedoms.  I am speaking to our 1,300 summer staff as they getting ready to be counselors in cabins at our summer camps.  Right before this session began, I showed this music video, from the song, Father of Mine by Everclear. In it, the singer repeatedly says, “My father gave me a name, and then he walked away.”

1. Grace-based counselors give their campers the freedom to be different.  My kids can be annoying at times.  Or worse, they can embarrass me in public, most likely because they aren’t acting like  perfect kids.  When they act that way, it is easy for me to assume what they are doing is wrong, instead of just simply being different.  Grace-based counselors – and parents – set them free to live out the personalities and uniquenesses that God instilled in them.

2. Grace-based counselors give their campers the freedom to be vulnerable.  One of the great parts in going to summer camp is to get away from being who your friends want you to be.  Campers can take off their “masks,” and be honest about their fears in life. Grace-based counselors – and parents – give children a place to let these fears be known without the fear of being attacked in the process.

3. Grace-based counselors give their campers the freedom to be candid.  What troubles a child’s heart?  It could be a sin with which they are struggling, or a doubt they are having about their faith.  Better yet, it might be a frustration they are having with us.  Grace-based counselors – and parents – allow children to voice these doubts, fears or frustrations.

4. Grace-based counselors give their campers the freedom to make mistakes.  Let’s be honest; there are times when kids are hard to love.  They push our very last button.  They try to bend the rules, push their own agendas, or flat out rebel.  One of the highest forms of grace is to provide correction, discipline and consequences.  Grace-based counselors – and parents – don’t allow the child’s mistakes to break their relationship with them.  They recognize that when these kids are the hardest to love, that’s when they need love the most.