Grace instead of punishment…

A while ago, my husband got a new phone system in our house that made working from home easier for him. One of the features of the system was that the phones intercomed each other–a convenient thing when you needed to ask a quick question from upstairs or downstairs and didn’t want to yell.

My daughter thought it was a great feature too and had fun calling from room to room.

Especially at bed-time.

One night, literally a minute after we’d put the kids to bed, we heard the intercom…

Beep. Beep. Beep.

I picked up the phone.

“Mommy?” My daughter said. “Can I have some warm milk?”

“No, Honey. It’s late. You haven’t even tried to get to sleep yet.”

“But, Mommy?”


“I’m starving.”

“You already had dinner and brushed your teeth. It’s time for bed.” I went to hang up the phone.

“Wait, Mommy. If I have crackers, do I have to brush my teeth again?”

“You can’t have crackers.”

“But I’m starving.”

I knew I should stand firm. I knew it. But against my better judgment, I started to waver.

Maybe she’s going through a growth spurt, I thought. Maybe she should have a little snack…

“All right,” I said, guiltily aware of the fact that I was teaching her if she bugged me long enough, I’d give in. “You can have an apple.”



“What about quesadillas?”

“No!” I’d just caved and offered her a snack, and now she was getting picky? “No quesadillas. It’s bed-time. I’m hanging up the phone and I’m bringing you some apples.”

“Okay. But, Mommy?” she said in her sweetest voice possible.


“Can you please cook me some bacon?”


“NO! I’m not making bacon. It’s nine o’clock! What do you think this is? Room service?”

Cute little laugh. “Yeah.”

I know I should’ve stopped the conversation right there and given her a consequence. But, blame it on being at that delirious parental breaking point where, like it or not, you’re either going to laugh or cry, I started cracking up.

I laughed, then she laughed, until we both laughed so hard we couldn’t stop.

“Well, it’s not,” I finally managed, catching my breath.

“Okay,” she said, still giggling.

“Listen.” I tried to sound firm. “I’ll cut you some strawberries if you don’t want apples. Then you need to go to sleep.”

“Okay. I’ll have strawberries.”

“Okay.” Sigh.

“And Mommy?” she said.


“While you’re at it, can you make me some warm milk?”…

After that, I didn’t think those intercoms were such a great feature after all. But you know what? Being able to laugh with my daughter, instead of getting angry at her, reminded me that sometimes it’s better to choose grace over punishment. I’m not saying discipline isn’t important; it is. I believe in giving kids boundaries and enforcing the rules, and that late-night snack conversation with my daughter wasn’t a normal occurance. But I am saying that sometimes, even when the people we love do something wrong, offering grace or overlooking an offense might be the right thing to do.

After all, isn’t that what God does for us? We all make mistakes. Yet He showers us with grace, love, and forgiveness.

So, whether we are parents or not, the next time someone we love does something we think they shouldn’t, or the next time we get irritated with them, may we remember God’s grace. And may that help us to give grace in return.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. – Ephesians 2:8

4 Responses to Grace instead of punishment…
  1. Tricia
    December 28, 2009 | 7:31 pm

    I love to laugh instead of get upset. Although we don’t have an intercom system in our house she still likes to see if she can get a drink or something to eat after I put her to bed…

    Sometimes I think of myself as room service… But in all honestly the main guest I am service is our Father.

  2. Vicki Haley
    December 29, 2009 | 7:41 am

    We have been considering putting in an intercom system as well, maybe we better think about it some more! I’m new to your site and am excited to be here.

  3. Gina
    December 31, 2009 | 11:06 am

    Amen to that! Wish I would have learned that earlier in my parenting and wish I could remember to fall back on that more!

  4. Aileen
    January 12, 2010 | 1:05 am

    I love this story because it sounds like comversations I have had with my daughter. It was so much better to not get angry (I’ve gone there too) and to laugh. Thanks for your story!