• Meet your children's need for strength by offering them hope. Let your children practice making some of their own decisions while they're still living with you. Show them by your own example how God will give hope to people who feel helpless. Let them see you turn to God with confidence whenever you need something.

Acknowledge the unique ways God has wired your kids, and help groom them for the future by building disciplines around their gifts and skills. Teach them skills that will help compensate for their shortcomings. Encourage your children to see life as a great spiritual adventure, and to fully participate in that adventure. Give your kids specific goals to accomplish throughout their childhoods (such as learning how to forgive or learning how to handle money). Celebrate their victories and help them learn to lose gracefully when circumstances don't go their way.

• Give your kids the freedom to be different. Accept each of your children's personality quirks, and ask God to help you be at peace with the ways they may annoy you, yet are not morally wrong in any way. Don't expect your children to be just like you, or similar to their siblings. Know that God has made each one unique for good purposes. Don't get too upset by passing fads in music and fashion. Focus more on the attitudes of your children's hearts than on external things in their lives. Don't use Bible verses out of context to justify your own personal preferences. Make allowances for your children to be who they are.

• Give your children the freedom to be vulnerable. Realize that kids' emotions aren't as mature as adults' emotions. Don't overreact, underreact, or write off your children when they become emotional. Acknowledge their feelings and help them work through them so they can grow.

• Give your kids the freedom to be candid. Allow your children to speak openly and honestly about whatever is on their minds, without fear of being punished for doing so. Let them know that they're free to discuss anything with you (even ways in which you have hurt or disappointed them), and they'll be more likely to truly let you into their lives. Listen closely when they talk, and ask questions.

• Give your children the freedom to make mistakes. Rather than trying to force your kids to maintain a moral code, view them as sinners who want to become more like Christ. Expect them to struggle with sin, and encourage them to turn to God in the process. Love them unconditionally and forgive them whenever they hurt or disappoint you. Avoid condemning them; choose to address their wrong behavior rather than attacking their character. Let them experience the consequences of their mistakes, fairly and consistently, to let them know you love them to much not to help them grow. Never give up on prodigal children, knowing that God will never give up on them.

Adapted from Grace-Based Parenting, copyright 2004 by Dr. Tim Kimmel. Published by W Publishing Group, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tn., www.wpublishinggroup.com.

Dr. Tim Kimmel and his wife Darcy are the founders of Family Matters ministries. Committed to helping Christian families thrive in our culture, Tim is one of America's top advocates speaking for the family today. He has sold more than 750,000 books and videos, including Little House on the Freeway and Raising Kids Who Turn Out Right. For the past five years, Tim hosted his own nationally syndicated radio show broadcast in more than 30 major markets. Tim and Darcy have four children and one grandchild.