Patience is a Virtue

My husband and I teach a parenting class at church. At the beginning of every series of classes, we ask the participants to write down what they would like to learn. As we read their responses later, we found that a large percentage wanted to learn more about patience. Mind you-many of the participants are new parents with tiny toddlers who can’t communicate effectively. Patience is greatly required to understand how to help their children. As a result, this whole week I have spent time studying and practicing patient parenting. This is what I have discovered:

1. Impatience is the number one reason parents become abusive, which stems, of course, from selfishness.

2. Patience dissolves most minor problems while impatience aggravates them and makes them worse.

3. Most impatient parents are impatient with themselves.

Lets start with number one: Impatience is the number one reason parents become abusive, which stems, of course, from selfishness.. I come from an abusive home. When I asked my father years later what he wished he would have done different, his first response was he wished he would have been more patient. My husband commented that when parents are impatient with their children, it is mostly because they have a personal agenda that is repeatedly interrupted. Any parent out there can identify with the constant calls from mom or dad as they are trying to do the dishes, write a paper, do homework, talk on the telephone, or just take a break. In fact, as I am writing this, My 3 year-old daughter is yelling at me to come and help her in the bathroom. These repeated demands can be irritating. However, I have found that as I quickly take care of my children’s needs first, even anticipating them, I have more time to do what I have on my personal agenda.

This goes into the second point:Patience dissolves most minor problems while impatience aggravates them and makes them worse. When we are patient with our children and put their needs before our own, their aggravated calls lesson and problems are resolved quickly. Our patient behavior also teaches our own children to be patient throwing less fits and recognizing that they will get what they need. As I have practiced patience this week, my relationship with my children has improved. They respect my wishes because I am respecting theirs.

Now lets talk about the final point: Most impatient parents are impatient with themselves. When I was studying about patience, it never occurred to me that I could be impatient with myself. However, at a closer examination, I realized I was. For example, I seldom finish the long lists I make for myself at the beginning of the day and I always come away disappointed. I am often pulled in many directions from friends, to children, to my husband. How to juggle it all can be difficult and my expectations of myself often cause me to become impatient. As I keep my priorities straight and have a positive outlook, instead of being impatient, I can come away from the day feeling like I have worked hard and been productive. I am in the process of working on weekly lists instead of daily lists so that if I don’t get to everything in the first day, I have the next day to continue. When I am patient with myself I don’t worry so much if it all gets done wich gives me more purpose in helping my children and making them a greater priority.

I have found that patience is a real virtue in parenting and an absolute necessity in successful parenting. I would encourage all parents to take the patient challenge and try hard for one week to be patient with their children and with themselves. I would love to know how it has worked for others and learn from others insights.