The Foundation: What We Did From Ages 0-12 - Part 1

On the comments from Gary on my recent post Update on My Own Personal Legacy Dad Process, I've decided to unpack some of what I've talked about and explain it more in depth. Specifically, about what my wife and I did for the first 12 years, how it was different, why we did it and what was the ultimate outcome.

I often find that new parents are the ones who tend to go in search of parenting knowledge followed by parents experiencing some struggles in the teenage years.

Foundation Principle 1:

1. Creating security in our home and in our children's hearts. 

This was done primarily in 2 ways: Modeling a loving marriage and practicing Grace Based Parenting

We weren't always perfect in practicing these two areas but we made this our goal to constantly strive for and we worked on it daily.

1. A Loving Marriage -

This is one of the most important steps in the Legacy Dad process, if you don’t get this right then all the rest seems out of place. This is also something you will work on everyday for the rest of your life. It is so important that I call it the Foundation of the Legacy.

The example you set in your marriage will carry on to your children. How you treat your wife will be how your sons treat their future wives. Your daughter will expect men to treat her as she saw you treat her mother. If you are setting the proper example this can be wonderful. If you are setting a bad example, the results can be disastrous.

Have you ever had a water leak in your house? Well there are two types of leaks in my book. The first is a sudden burst of pipes which floods your house with water and the effects are immediately visible. The second is the gradual leak in which the effects are not visible immediately but over time it eats away at your home and in most cases, causes even greater damage. Pipes break at pressure points or points that are weak.

Your marriage faces the same two leaks and it is the most vulnerable at your pressure points.

Repairing your house from a leak is a costly proposition; it is much easier to do some preventative maintenance periodically. You can repair a marriage from a major leak but it is much easier to do some daily maintenance and save yourself some emotional dollars.

Things can happen suddenly in a marriage that causes a burst, unexpected and unforeseen things. A financial failure, being laid off or losing a business. The income stops temporarily, debts pile up and pressure looms in and causes friction. Some marriages don’t survive this burst. Or it could be a tragedy, the death of a child or family member and the husband and wife just can’t stop the leak. The birth of a special needs child can also cause this burst. The focus of the family goes on the child instead of each other and some marriages don’t survive this burst. There are many circumstances that can cause this quick burst and end a marriage.

But the normal way a marriage dies is by the slow daily leaks, the slow drifting apart. The couple that looks happy but one day they wake up and say “We aren’t where we used to be.” “We aren’t connected.” “We aren’t moving forward.” Now believe me there is no perfect marriage, the reason why is we are all human and prone to sin. You’re going to argue, going to lose your cool and say some things you don’t mean. But the goal is to minimize those events and make them the exception instead of the norm.

There are four areas that I believe make up a Legacy Dad Marriage, each one is illustrated in the posts below which were written way back when this blog was first started.

1. Communication

2. Unresolved Conflict

3. Creating Common Interests

4. Confused Allegiances


2.  Grace Based Parenting

If there were ever two most important dangers to avoid in parenting, they would be legalism and permissiveness.  Unfortunately, many parents unknowingly subscribe to one or both of these styles of parenting and they often lead to disastrous, unintended results.

Dr. And Pastor Tim Kimmel has come up with an alternative philosophy that models our parenting style with our children, in the same way God deals with us as his children.  Through Grace.

Grace Based Parenting clearly describes a style of parenting that preserves the need for boundaries, obedience, respect, and discipline but which also appropriately considers “the three driving needs” of children—a need for security, a need for significance, and a need for strength.  Grace Based Parenting does this by focusing in on the climate in the home. Grace Based Parenting accurately observes that there is a place for rules and strictness in the home, but how they are presented makes “all the difference on how they are received.”

Kimmel observes that much of the parenting by Christians is based on fear—fear of the world and the deteriorating culture, fear of other parents, and fear of the opinions of the church. This in turn encourages parents to focus on behavior rather than on the heart of their children. Kimmel instead encourages parents to parent their children as God parents His children—with grace. “Grace-based parenting mirrors God’s love, reflects His forgiveness, and displaces fear as a motivator for the choices we make.”

Grace-Based Parenting points out the fallacy of basing our parenting on the desire to raise “safe Christian children” by depending on controlling the environment around our children in order to shape them. He calls this a “disaster in the making” and warns that this effort “will produce shallow faith and wimpy believers.” Instead, Kimmel urges us to raise strong children and to move beyond outer problems and address the inner problems of our children.

One of the most critical strengths of this book is the atmosphere of grace in the home that Kimmel portrays as well as the matter of-fact, yet gracious manner in which he notes that parents and children are sinners and must be dealt with as sinners. Consider these comments from the chapter, “The Freedom to Make Mistakes”

“Legalistic parents maintain a relationship with God through obedience to a standard. The goal of this when it comes to their children is to keep sin from getting into their home. They do their best to create an environment that controls as many of the avenues as possible that sin could use to work its way into the inner sanctum…. It’s as though the power to sin or not to sin was somehow connected to their personal will power and resolve…. These families are preoccupied with keeping sin out by putting a fence between them and the world.

The difference with grace-based families is that they don’t bother spending much time putting fences up because they know full well that sin is already present and accounted for inside their family. To these types of parents, sin is not an action or an object that penetrates their defenses; it is a preexisting condition that permeates their being. The graceless home requires kids to be good and gets angry and punishes them when they are bad. The grace-based home assumes kids will struggle with sin and helps them learn how to tap into God’s power to help them get stronger.

It’s not that grace-based homes don’t take their children’s sin seriously. Nor is it that grace-based homes circumvent consequences. It isn’t even that grace-based homes do nothing to protect their children from attacks and temptations that threaten them from the outside. They do all these things, but not for the same reasons. Grace-based homes aren’t trusting in the moral safety of their home or the spiritual environment they’ve created to empower their children to resist sin….They assume that sin is an ongoing dilemma that their children must constantly contend with.

[Children in a grace-based family] are accepted as sinners who desire to become more like Christ rather than be seen as nice Christian kids trying to maintain a good moral code. Grace is committed to bringing children up from their sin; legalism puts them on a high standard and works overtime to keep them from falling down.

Grace understands that the only real solution for our children’s sin is the work of Christ on their behalf…. Legalism uses outside forces to help children maintain their moral walk. Their strength is based on the environment they live in. Grace, on the other hand, sees the strength of children by what is inside them—more specifically, Who is inside them.”

More In Part 2