Here’s a true story: My wife and I have terrific kids, but there was a time during our children’s teenage years when the bottom essentially fell out of our life together as a family. I’ll spare you the details, but we pretty much thought we’d failed on every level, failed to the extent that we would never be the parents of happy, fulfilled, independent adult children. If we needed anything during that time, we needed patience, and we needed to learn how to have patience with our kids.
My friend Kathy tried to encourage us: “I was rebellious as a young adult,” she said. “But my parents were patient. I eventually found my way. Your kids will too.” We didn’t need a timetable, what we needed was hope. Patience provides a place where hope can take root and grow. Patience provides a place where hope can take root and grow. Additionally, the practice of applied, hopeful, deliberate patience can facilitate all kinds of healing. Patience is a great investment. Here are five ways to have patience with your kids.
1. Don’t ask for patience, practice it:
Patience is a choice, so it’s something we have to decide to do rather than something we wish we had.
2. Think of patience as an intervention:
Patience is a tool we can apply to a situation. Once we understand the benefits of patience and choose to apply it, we won’t react with anger in most cases. We don’t magically find patience one day by tripping over it, we simply pick it up and use it.
3. Keep expectations age-appropriate and reasonable:
Parents don’t lose patience when a toddler takes several months to potty-train, and we wouldn’t expect a five-year-old to learn subtraction in one afternoon. Likewise, our teens don’t always think, process, or learn exactly on dad’s timetable. It takes Patience, Flexibility, and Humor
4. Invest more in the relationship than the result:
As dads, we can be overbearingly results-oriented. Patience tends to be a natural byproduct when our focus shifts to the relationship.
5. Restate, rethink, reevaluate, relax, and regroup:
Rather than bear down, restate your expectations, rethink your timetable, reevaluate your approach, relax in the space your decision for patience grants you, and then regroup. In other words, actively work the problem rather than simply reacting to your frustration.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is hard about being patient?”