The Power of Giving Your Kids a "Do-Over"

Jenifer is a far better parent than I am. She is consistent, intentional, and present. She strikes a terrific balance of grace and truth that faithfully emulates our God. And she has this one thing that she does that I think is absolutely brilliant.

She occasionally offers our kids a "do-over."


The "do-over" comes into play in those moments when one of our kids says something that is ugly, rude, or downright disrespectful. There are certainly times when these words are not tolerated and a consequence is immediately given. However, there are other times when Jen is discerning enough to know that the child or teen in question is having an immature moment or an emotional meltdown because of something as typical as a rough day at school. In these moments, she doesn't want to turn an already difficult day into a big fight. She would much rather turn it into a teachable moment. That's when she pulls out the "do-over." Here's what it looks like:

Parent asks an innocent question of kid about the school day, the condition of their room, etc.

Kid says something short or rude to parent in response.

Parent is tempted to yell something about "You do not talk to me that way! You're grounded for life!" Instead, parent takes a deep breath and in a calm but firm voice asks: "Do you want to try that again?"

(This is the do-over. It gives the kid some grace and the chance to think about how he just talked to his parent.)

Kid responds again, hopefully with a little bit better tone and/or attitude. If kid in question doesn't improve on the second attempt, parent is free to dish out an adequate consequence, such as "You are grounded for life!"

The "do-over" is effective in that it enables our kids to learn something through taking responsibility for what they are saying. It works particularly well with teenagers who are still learning that their words have power, especially with the ones they love. I also love the "do-over" because it clearly reflects the heart of our God. Grace has been lavished upon us in Christ so we are called to do likewise with one another. When we offer second chances to our kids, we are truly parenting like Jesus.

The next time your child or teenager gives you a little back talk, perhaps you could ask God to give you the strength not to blow up in response. Instead, offer them the chance to try again. They might surprise you with what they can do and learn when they are offered a little grace.

Question: What are some things you do right as a parent that reflect the heart of our God?