Today’s post is a guest post by my friend Melinda Means. She and Kathy Helgemo just recently released their new book Mothering from Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family. Read more about Melinda and her book below.
Do you long for instant gratification as much as I do?
For example, I work out for two weeks and expect miracles. I get discouraged when I can’t suddenly slip toned thighs into my “skinny jeans” or show off my “guns” in a cute, sleeveless shirt.
This lack of immediate results is precisely why my “working out regularly” routine often ends at … two weeks.
The biblical concept of patience or “endurance” is a tough one for me to swallow. Quick results are more to my liking. But I can’t recall the apostle Paul ever writing about that.
When I became a mom, it didn’t take me long to realize that patience is a virtue that might come in handy. My children don’t often respond or develop on my timetable. Can you relate?
Unfortunately, for my children, my capacity for patience didn’t develop overnight. It took me much longer to ask God to change my heart instead of expecting my children to change the way God designed them.
Over the years, I’ve conveyed impatience and anger (the two seem to go hand-in-hand) to my children more times than I’d care to admit. I’ve had to ask their forgiveness over and over again as God slowly and mercifully used hardships and difficulties to grow my capacity to love and wait and endure.
Looking back, it’s painful for me to recognize how my impatience was teaching my kids lessons that I never intended.
The WRONG lessons impatience taught my kids:
Lesson #1: You aren’t good enough. When I’m frequently annoyed, irritated or frustrated with my children, it chips away at their confidence. What is the incentive for a child to keep trying when it becomes apparent that his or her method or pace of doing things is never fast or efficient enough for our liking?
Lesson #2: Hurrying is a way of life. No child should have to always feel continually rushed. It’s a very unsettling feeling for adults, let alone little people who have no concept of time or our very busy, important “to-do” lists. Ahem. I remember when my son Micah was about three, I was continually hurrying him out the door with these words: “Come on, come on, Micah. We have to go!” One day, he looked at me in frustration and said, “I’m come on-ing!” “Come on-ing” shouldn’t be a way of life. Especially when you’re three.
Lesson #3: God is impatient. God intended for parents to reflect His love for our children. We’re His earthly representations to our children. If we’re impatient, we unconsciously send the message that their Heavenly Father is, too.
Lesson #4: It’s okay to be impatient. I can talk all day long about being patient and loving, but if my actions betray my words, I lose all credibility. And I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not easy to rebuild.
How do we become more patient with our children?
It requires a heart change that starts with one single act of obedience:
- I’m going to choose to stop myself mid-sentence when I start to hurry my child.
- I’m going to choose to take a deep breath when I have to explain the same instruction for the 10th time to my child because he/she can’t grasp the concept.
- I’m going to choose to focus on my child’s need for grace in a situation rather than my need for efficiency.
With the Holy Spirit’s power, we can start with one choice and build from there.
Instead of asking ourselves, “Why are they so slow?” or “Why does everything take so long?, maybe a better question to ask is, “What is God trying to teach me through these precious, but at times challenging, children and times of waiting?”
When we begin to sincerely seek the answer to that question, we have this assurance: “Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” Daniel 10:12 (NLT)
The lessons He teaches will always produce results.
Melinda and her blogging partner Kathy Helgemo are co-authors of the new book Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family (Bethany House, 2015), available on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com and ChristianBook.com, as well as bookstores nationwide. They blog together over at Mothering from Scratch.