Generation Cedar

helping moms who struggle with being patient

I struggle being patient. Always have. And I hate it.

I asked the ladies on our Facebook page some of their biggest struggles as a mom, and patience came up repeatedly. So I’m not the only one. And neither are you!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this phenomenon, how those of us who want so desperately to be patient struggle with that very thing.

I want to offer 3 things I think will help:

1. Effects and considerations of the consequences on our children

2. Possible causes

3. Solutions

Why is patience with our children so important?

There is the obvious–impatience can be ugly. And it can hurt. It can make our children feel like they aren’t good enough, or fast enough. It can cause real damage if impatience turns to constant anger. But at the same time, let me encourage you that we are human. It is humanly impossible to never display impatience. So while we don’t need to feel defeated, but rather repent and be humble about our shortcomings and sins, we do need to understand the seriousness of it so we have the proper motivation for change.

The biggest reason we need to pursue patience is that it is one of the fruits of the spirit and we are commanded to cultivate those qualities. Nothing–absolutely nothing–will help our children grow in patience more than having it modeled for them. It is difficult to be kind (the second fruit) when you aren’t being patient. We need to recognize the importance of working on being patient, and recognize the damage that can come from our impatience so that we are determined to do something about it.

Why Are We Impatient?

Personality. Perhaps everyone could answer this differently, but it helps to try to figure out where our triggers come from. As I’ve done some soul searching, I believe much of my impatience comes from expectations born out of my personality type. Maybe you can see yourself in this.

I am an INTP personality, and virtually can tolerate zero irrationality. Which, unfortunately, can often characterize young children’s behavior. Also, as a visionary, I can visualize, clearly, the “end product” of everything. I know how I want things to be and I can already see them, so when it comes to parenting, I can forget the loooooong process between now and then, forget the daily work that must be done to accomplish the long-term goals, forget the maturity that has to take place and the slow process of growing. I find myself thinking (or saying) “But I’ve already told you that. You know what to do/not to do.”

What I’m saying is, you might, by your very nature, struggle with being impatient. Own it. Deal with it.

Too busy. Secondly, the demands of daily life, no doubt, contribute the greatest challenge to parenting patiently. The more there is to do, the more the potential to deal with our children in anger or impatience.

Lack of training. In the busyness, it can be so easy to let behaviors go that gnaw away at our sanity. I have found that if I focus on training, it can go a long way to a more peaceful day. We tend to be distracted during times when our children are not obeying or are displaying some behavior that needs attention, and we can literally train them, if we’re not careful, to ignore our half-intended warnings, until we end up blowing a fuse when we have to address it for the third time.

Solutions.

Remember this first: our children are like lambs, given to us to shepherd. They are not complete, they are not yet wise, or mature. They aren’t trying to aggravate us. They need direction and they need it patiently. We can do this.

Regarding personality: we can’t let our expectations rule us. Yes, the end picture is important. But more importantly is remembering that children are children. We must simply expect to have to remind them of the same things over and over. Patiently. Let me suggest that as we remind, the more we praise their efforts and progress, the less reminding we’ll have to do in the future. Praising makes a child say, “Oh! I get it. This is what I’m supposed to do.” It’s far more motivating than an impatient tirade about “How many times have I told you.” Ask me how I know.

Regarding being too busy: I’m urging you to get rid of anything you can to help avoid distractions that cause irritability. Rearrange your schedule to pay bills when the kids are not needing to ask you questions every 5 minutes. Save your social media for later. You might even have to cut some things out of your schedule altogether.

Few things help me be patient more than slowing down and devoting the time needed to my childrens’ needs. I love this quote from Rachel Jankovic which reminds me:

“Motherhood is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.”

Being patient with our children is an integral part of our job. Realizing that helps us to ensure we are doing all we can to foster patience.

Regarding lack of training: Pay attention, calmly address the situation of disobedience, or squabbling, or whining, with appropriate discipline and an assuring control, and they’ll stop second-guessing your authority, bringing much-needed peace. I have also found, miraculously, they are just happier when you have drawn the safety of the boundaries and lovingly enforced them. It’s really quite refreshing and you’ll remember how important it is to be deliberate.

But the biggest solution of all…

Prayer, ladies. At the beginning of the day, you and God, on your knees, committing to crucifying the flesh THIS day, and asking for His grace on you, and through you. “You have not because you ask not.” Don’t let us be guilty of thinking we can man-handle our short-comings alone. We have a Heavenly Father who is for us, perfectly able to give us daily mercy. Ask Him, then purpose to get up off those knees and walk patiently with your little lambs.

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15 Responses

  1. Sometimes it helps me to remember the patience that the Lord exercises when dealing with me. The way I see the kids’ shortcomings or misbehavior is the same way that the Lord sees mine, and yet he loves me and leads me gently. With his help I can do the same and communicate the gospel and unconditional love to my children.

    1. your words will help me to be more patient towards my kids,,i wonder how God feels about me when i shout at my kids

  2. This post was an answer to a desperate prayer this morning! Sometimes I feel very unequipped for the large family God has given me and I struggle as I seem to be so very stretched thin. But I know the Lord wants me to press in and allow Him to continue to sanctify me in this process. Thank you, Kelly, for not only being so real but offering real solutions!

  3. I find that when I am on top of the training I feel more patient, even if I am not. I think I am a control freak, so when I feel things are out of control I snap and yell, scream, basically throw a 2 year old tantrum (being a good example and all). When I take care of the issue immediately, every time, I feel like I am doing something to take care of the situation.

  4. Love this!

    Getting ready to go pray now as I take care of my friend’s 3 year old and almost 1 year old all day..
    Perfect reminder to do the first priority. (That I often forget). SIGH
    🙂

  5. As I was reading the list of possible reasons for being impatient, I wasn’t shocked to see that all three describe the backbone for my loss of patience at any given moment. Though I wasn’t shocked, I was relieved….I have felt like the most temperamental, mean mom lately, and very alone in my battle. Thank you for posting this, it is very timely! God bless you, Kelly, and the many others that your blog touches.

  6. I’ve run the gamut in terms of parenting patience. All the way from too patient and too permissive (when my middle two were very young, resulting in them having no “company manners” whatsoever) to utterly impatient and intolerant to the point of emotional and verbal abuse (yes, something we make too much of in Western society– not every hurt feeling or criticism is emotional or verbal abuse– but they are very real things).

    That was when my middle two were preschool-aged and I was expecting another one, and taking very bad counsel from very bad sources. Never take parenting advice from someone whose children all left home the minute it was legal for them to do so and seldom visit.

    Looking back on it, being too impatient and intolerant had far worse, and more far-reaching, consequences than being too patient and too tolerant. Children will, eventually, grow out of having been treated to too much patience (at least, as long as expectations rise eventually and good counsel is given). Cleaning up the consequences of damaging a child’s soul is much more painful, much more time-consuming, and much, much more difficult. Gone there, still doing that, and probably will be for the foreseeable future.

    Ironically, I showed just about the right amount of patience to my firstborn. I guess it had to do with parents (or a father anyway) who showed the right amount of patience with me, and with having the support and involvement of family and friends in figuring out how to raise her. We were much more isolated when the middle two came along (short of the Internet and a telephone connection, I had no one but my husband and children and what little advice the local public school could give).

    Most of my impatience revolves around perfectionism. And my perfectionism, in turn, tends to revolve around anxiety. Mostly fear of failure, or of the social judgments of others. I cared nothing for such things for many, many years– being a high-functioning autistic and an INSP, I naturally care a lot more for what I believe, what I know, and what the small, still voice in my heart tells me is right (the source of most of my believing and knowing) than what any equally fallen meat popsicle has to say on the subject.

    Whenever I start to fear criticism, rejection, or failure though, the fear of those things gets louder than the small, still voice in my heart very, very quickly. I find that, in order to remain an effective parent in the face of that fear (and a society that’s all too willing to feed it), I have to take the time to spend time in counsel with people who exemplify who I would like to be and with level-headed people who are having similar struggles. I find I also have to take the time, when the house is still (which usually amounts to staying up into the wee hours of the morning once every six weeks or so) and nothing is crying for my attention, to listen to that small, still voice and spend much time conversing with the Lord.

    It makes for a tired Mama the next day, but a better Mama overall. It also smacks of selfishness and “me time,” because I enjoy doing it and it does not directly serve anyone but me. However, it improves the general tone of things around the house enough that I am coming to accept that, sometimes, what benefits the Mama (and also what benefits the Daddy– say what you will about video games, my husband is a much better problem solver if he’s given a couple hours of video game time in the evenings) benefits the whole family many times over.

    Letting go of perfectionism, mostly in how I am seen or would be seen if anyone were watching, has been a Godsend for my family. I want to qualify that by saying we will have to wait many years hence for the children to become adults before we see the fruit. I suppose there’s some truth in that, but the real fact is that I’m seeing the fruit already in children who are less distant, less defensive, less inclined to argue, less fearful, more capable of taking direction, more pliant, more eager to learn, more willing to ask for help, and more inclined to be kind.

    Now if I could just do something about my son’s and oldest daughter’s unhealthy levels of conflict avoidance and people pleasing, and have a little more success at working on my middle daughter’s tendency to antagonize people in the name of entertainment…

    Ah, well, she’s only six. It is, indeed, a looooooooooooong process.

  7. While impatience with my kids is not completely a thing of the past (think Sunday mornings and a dawdling kid), I hardly ever struggle with it anymore.

    I praise God that He allowed me to have some unpleasant physical and other symptoms that led me to try cutting gluten out of my diet.

    Not only did numerous physical problems abate or completely disappear as a result, but my wild mood swings, impatience, and other issues like that also virtually melted away. The transformation was amazing and very unexpected.

    Dietary changes may not be the solution for every mom struggling with anger, impatience, and the like, but it is worth the effort to do some research into food sensitivities and how they can manifest behavior-wise (in children and adults alike). We have a very peaceful home now most of the time, and I praise God for that tremendous blessing.

    Of course that does not negate the importance of us adults taking a hard look at our character issues, no matter how clean our diets. Diet is not our savior — we need the Lord’s sanctifying work in our lives.

    You’re right that we need to be on our knees, Kelly, asking the Lord for His mercy as we parent His children. We are all works in progress, our children and us parents, as well.

    Thankful for the Spirit Who guides us as we journey. The Lord is faithful and worthy of our praise.

      1. That makes sense. I have more trouble with irritability when I am very tired, and I would imagine chronic anemia (which I don’t have) is very fatiguing.

        MSG is another bad one for me. Ooh, boy, you don’t even want to know… 😉

    1. Kelly, thank you for this excellent post. I do struggle greatly with patience.

      6 arrows – Thank you for posting about gluten! I just in the past week read about the gluten-anger connection in the book “Cure Your Child With Food.” The author told about a boy who was actually in anger-management counseling (to no effect), being able to completely discontinue all treatment after cutting out gluten. And when the family went gluten-free, the father stopped having problems with anger too! I already know that my husband and son are sensitive to gluten (headaches and gut problems), but we’re very spotty about staying gluten-free. I’ve wondered if being more faithful would help my husband with his irritability issues as well as the other health problems. Thank you for sharing!

      1. You’re welcome, Diana — I’m glad it was helpful! 🙂

        The book you mention sounds great! There are similar testimonies (of remarkable changes children have experienced after their families implemented dietary changes) recounted in a book I own and refer to often: The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet.

        Amazing to me how the ordinary stressors of life are much easier to cope with when one’s body isn’t fighting food-derived physical stress on top of everything else!

        Thank YOU for sharing! Blessings to you and your family, Diana. 🙂

  8. Thanks so much for your blog, its inspiring and uplifting!

    Im new here, so I want to know, whats the car situation with your family?

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