Patient Parenting

Patient Parenting

“Patience is a virtue.”  We’re all familiar with that cliché and Paul reminds us of the importance of patience by listing it among the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. So, if you’re a Christian parent you ought to be patient.  Right?  Patience actually means “waiting without complaint.”  So, what’s so virtuous about “not complaining?”  Really, there is more to it.  Something in addition must be required to make one’s lack of complaint virtuous. That something is discomfort.  It’s because when a circumstance is uncomfortable for someone and we find his refusal to complain remarkable, we therefore regard him as “patient.”

There are those times when the very best parents, in the most virtuous families, experience great discomfort.  Many times the God-fearing, well-meaning, kind-hearted parents go “bonkers.”  That’s right.  They totally lose it.  What little stores of “patience” might have been held for just a time as this, it leaves its’ nest and flies away.  Bottom-line, they “go nuts.”  For as much joy as sweet little children bring to a home, they can equally bring great discomfort.

Kids do ridiculous things that get on our nerves.  At times, it seems that they know exactly what they are doing too.  Pushing the “buttons” of your limits and “getting underneath your skin” becomes an art form for the little rascals.

I have noticed that I am more susceptible to loss of patience when I’m tired or stressed from work.  I also realize that my lack of patience with my kids might not have been as severe if I had tried to understand the situation a little better.  And, there are those times when I’m reminded that being a more consistent disciplinarian in the early years could be paying dividends now if I had invested differently.

So, what can we do about our impatience with our kids?  Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Get the rest you need. Find a little time to relax and reflect. Turn off the computer and go to bed!
  2. Have realistic expectations for your kids. They are kids.  Based on their age and developmental stage, determine what rules and guidelines are appropriate.  It’s not that you shouldn’t challenge them, just be realistic.
  3. Keep the “big picture” in mind. Right now your kids are in training to become mature, God-fearing adults, but … they are not there yet.  Keep in mind your goal; you’re guiding them into adulthood, not pushing them there.  Galatians 6:9 says:Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
  4. Pray for a gentle spirit toward your kids. Don’t be the parent that comes across as always grouchy or mad.  God has a way of softening your heart.  Ask Him to do so.  Humility is a good trait for parents.   “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”  James 4:10
  5. Recognize that God is always with you. He is ready to help you.  All you have to do is ask.  Psalm 37:7 says “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act.”

 One last thought:  When you are tempted to lose your patience with your child, remember how patient God is with you everyday.

Ric Callahan

Pastor of Families, Westwood Baptist Church, Alabaster, AL