Patience Is a Virtue

My oldest son Frankie loved to fish as a kid, teenager, and into his early 20s. He had the patience to sit quietly and wait. He said my dad had it, too, and wanted Grandpa to go fishing with him when he retired. Dad passed away from cancer within six months.

Have you ever had your patience tried by a sulky teenager, a crabby middle-schooler, or a slow-moving kindergartener? Mom’s and Dad’s have their patience tried multiple times a day. How you respond is key in the children’s development.

We often expect kids, especially our own, to be mini-adults. They’re not. They have no concept of time until they have a curfew. And then they’re late. From the start, we need to be the leaders, the ones who set the example, display patience, kindness, and restraint. It may be tempting to yell. Please don’t. As as adult whose Mom yelled constantly, please don’t. I suppose she doesn’t remember, but I do. It was horrible. And she didn’t know any better. She did what her mom did. And I did what my mom did. Until my son nearly died.

Then I changed. I ceased yelling. I begged God to let me have a second chance with my little boy. I saw how destructive the yelling is. I still can be triggered into feeling the bad feelings that went with it. It took a lot of years to stop feeling responsible for upsetting her. It wasn’t my fault. The harder I tried to please her, the worse it seemed to be. It was all within her. And still is.

I’m glad to have been the one to break part of the family curse. My kids don’t have it, but I made other mistakes with them. Someday, I’ll go into it, but not now. We all make our own mistakes in working out the dysfunctionality we grew up with.

Now, I’m not talking about this for sympathy, or to disrespect my elderly mom. I am learning the fact that since I ended this family behavior, I can be an asset to someone else working through flashbacks, memories like this, triggers, and their ensuing reaction. Yes, they (we) can learn to manage our triggers. People with PTSD can, too. It’s not just soldiers who have PTSD. We all have something. We may not even realize it.

Chiding our children to “Hurry up!” is not a good track to be on. Chances are, if everyone started out 30 minutes earlier, you’d all be on time. We had one bathroom, and myself and three kids got ready, dressed, ate breakfast, and had to leave the house by 7 a.m. I dropped them at three different schools at one point, and had to be to work, at my desk by 8 a.m. 7:45 was ideal, but on time was expected. My kids never made me late to work in those early years.

Even as they went to high school, we moved but still had only one bathroom. We still made it to work. When they could drive, I would leave by 7:00 a.m., then took advantage of flex time. It worked perfectly.

As the parents, we need to establish good habits to model for our kids. Plan ahead. Leave early or on time. Be responsible for yourself. Practicing the habit makes it a routine. The routine becomes normal.

Any change we make to our lives to become better people takes time. It’s not a 60 seconds or less thing where change is concerned. Growth doesn’t happen with a stopwatch. Our society values speed more than anything; faster isn’t better; better is better. And you haven’t even lost your patience, you accept responsibility and act accordingly. I believe it’s a good quality to instill in our kids.

Let’s all be more patient. At home. In the car. At work. At play. At rest. It will soon become normal for you. Your life will improve. I promise.

Have a great evening; we’re cheering the Huskers again tonight, and hoping they win again. Time will tell. I’ll be patient. See you tomorrow.

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