Patience. This is something I seem to struggle with lately as a mom of four fabulous, yet busy-bodied and imperfect children. So you take an imperfect mom, and couple it with imperfect children, and there you have it! Imperfectness! Every day is a work in progress. My kids range in age from 6 to 17 so I think it’s only normal for me to be pulled in a gazillion directions at once. With this, comes a lack of patience on my part at times!
How many of us had 1 Corinthians 13:4 read at our weddings? The “LOVE” chapter in the Bible…..you know, the one that says “love is PATIENT, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” Even though this is a very popular verse read at weddings in regards to our marriages, I think it also applies well to the love we should show our children.
One meaning of the word patience is: bearing pains or trials calmly without complaint.
I want to focus on the word “calmly” for a minute. How do we as moms respond when our kiddos push our buttons? Are we calm? Do we get to their level and talk reasonably to them so that they can understand our expectations? I know some moms are yellers. Do you know that our children do not hear what we are saying when we are yelling at them? It is SO HARD, yet so important to do our best to remain calm in a situation where we feel our patience wearing thin.
Having a quick temper is like a fire burning out of control. It burns us and everyone else in it’s path. When you feel yourself getting angry, look for the cause. Patience is something that anyone can lose, but fortunately , anyone can find it again.
Something I have done in the past, and continue to do, is separate myself from my child so that I have a chance to gather my thoughts and calm down before I deal with the behavior. I might send them to their bedroom, or send myself to my bedroom for a few minutes. Obviously this can be done if they are old enough to be alone for a few minutes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a mommy time-out!!
When we lose our patience we can say things that will hurt our children.
There are times when we need to hold our tongues and not let the words flow. That old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!” is false! Words hurt and can cause damage!
A while back I was at the kitchen sink doing dishes, and Chloe, my 9 year old, was sitting at the kitchen table with the ipad. She was playing some sort of game where she was asking me questions. She asked me who my favorite teacher ever was. So I told her “Mrs. Riharb, she was my first grade teacher.” She said “ok, how do you spell that?” I replied “R-I-H-A-R-B”. She asked again, “how do you spell that again?” I responded with the same answer. The third time she asked I snapped. “Chloe!!! Are you serious right now? You really didn’t get it yet?!?!”
The look of sadness in her little eyes was heartbreaking and overwhelming. I lost my patience and as a result, hurt my little girls feelings pretty badly. At that moment, Chloe heard from her mama that she isn’t a good speller, and my quick-tempered response was hurtful, too!
With this comes something extremely important. In order for our children to be forgiving and become forgiving adults, we need to model this. I often apologize to my children. When we do so, we’re teaching them how to forgive and how to ask for forgiveness when necessary. That day I asked Chloe if she would forgive me for lashing out at her, and reminded her that I was wrong and that she is a wonderful speller!
Patience isn’t something that can be perfected and then forgotten about. It is the ideal to strive for, but unrealistic to have it down perfectly. Sure, you will have days when you feel like you’ve mastered it, and days you feel like you have completely failed. If you except the fact that it is something to strive for, you will be less demanding of yourself and your kids. Emotions are deeply wired into human beings, especially into parents. The most laid-back of us can be pushed to rise up angrily…that is the nature of parenthood.
A few tips that can help us in this area:
Know if you’re tired. When we’re tired, our patience runs thin.
Do an attitude check. Are you a prefectionist? Do you have unrealistic expectations of your children?
PMS. Know your cycle. It’s very common for women to experience less patience certain times of the month.
Be aware of your stress level. People under intense stress lose patience quickly.
Employ your sense of humor. Many moments that can cause a mom to lose her patience can actually become funny if you stop and think about it. (For example, when I found each of my toddler daughters covered in my make-up they had gotten into, I had a choice…I could either lose it on them, or laugh about it! Pictured above is Chloe, my now 9 year old during one of her many bouts with my make-up.)
Did you grow up in a home with a parent who had a short fuse? If so, be aware of your own tendency to model what you grew up with. (How many times do you say or do something and think “oh no, that was totally something my mother would say or do!”)
Remember your children are watching you. If you want patient children, you need to do your best to be a patient adult. (We all will lose it sometimes, that’s when learning to say “Im sorry” is good for everyone.)
As moms, it is said that we are the thermostats of our homes. We “set the temperature” so to speak. So quite often, if mom is going crazy, the whole household is going crazy. If mom is impatient, chances are everyone will be.
Again, nobody is perfect in this area. Let’s just be reminded today that being a patient mommy is something we can all strive for.