As a Christian parent, I sometimes struggle with finding the balance between the "train up a child in a way he should go" Scripture, and the idea of modeling God's unmerited favor. My kids aren't spoiled, by any means, but I see nothing wrong with giving them good things or special experiences once in a while even if they haven't earned them or don't "deserve" them.
Based on household rules, children know their boundaries and they hopefully know what the consequences will be if they choose to break rules. There are times as a parent, though, where I have the chance to pause and reflect on how God loves me and how he chooses to parent me.
Yes, I suffer the consequences of the bad choices I make. That's the way life is. But God doesn't restrict the flow of his love and good gifts based on what I do or whether I have earned them. The whole point of grace is that I have to realize I CAN'T earn his love. It makes the gifts he gives so much more meaningful because I know they come from his heart for me, having nothing to do with how deserving I am...or am not, in many cases.
I am a pretty strict parent when it comes to things like bedtime and being respectful and school work and doing what you're asked to do when you're asked to do it. But there are times when they are just going about their kid business, not thinking about anything in particular, and my heart fills up--I just want to drop everything, hug and kiss them, take them out for an ice cream cone and talk to them about what's on their little minds.
I think God is that way with us, too. He sees us going about our little kid business, thinking that everything we have to do is important, and for no reason other than love his heart fills up and he wants to lavish us, even though we don't deserve it.
So I'm asking God to teach me how to parent as he does.
Being human can be really, really overwhelming sometimes. Parenting is hard, especially if you think about the role you play in the person your child will become. The gravity of it can be too much to bear. But it doesn't all rest on your shoulders. God loves your child with the same lavish type of love that he has for you. Learning how to channel his love through you is the key.
God allows us to bear the consequences of our actions, but he is still there to listen with love and hugs and ice cream just because we are his kids and he loves us.