Discovering Our Patience

Welcome back to Revive Family’s Connecting Hearts blog. I’m Jeff Schadt the founder of Revive Family. This week we are beginning a new series about patience. It is clear that we all desire to be patient parents, but that’s not easy in our fast-paced, crazy world. When we find ourselves struggling with patience, it’s easy to start feeling like a failure as a parent. In my coaching of moms I have found this sense of failure to be counter productive. We become more sensitive to the things that our spouses and our kids say to us. Our sense of failure is triggered. We become impatient and react. This can become a vicious cycle when we get down on ourselves. We put more and more pressure on ourselves which increases our stress level and negatively impacts our patience.

In this series we will re-examine patience and look for deeper answers. What causes impatience? How can we tackle it so we are not putting pressure on ourselves and trying to control our reactions? How can we actually see change from the inside out? It’s possible that even mentioning this topic cause your stress level to rise. If that’s the case and you’re struggling with patience, sit back right now. Take 10 deep breaths and let it go. Take the pressure off yourself.

Patience is Vital for Great Relationships in our Homes!

The reason I feel this series is so important is that patience enables us to have great relationships with our kids. When we find ourselves impatient with the people closest to us, we need to examine our hearts and understand ourselves. Why? Because when impatience strikes and frustration or anger results, we’re literally pushing those closest to us away. If this happens on a fairly regular basis, we damage the sense of safety that our kids and spouse have with us and they distance from us emotionally.

This blog series is also available in a Podcast.

Emotional distance can become another vicious cycle. When when they distance from us, it can trigger in us a sense of being rejected or not being loved or respected. We feel wounded; we become more sensitive to the things they do and say. This can literally lead to a cycle of hurt in our family relationships. When others are hurt by our reactions and impatience, they become impatient with us. This series is vital because I’ve seen a cycle of hurt in so many homes.

Patience Protects our Kids from the Influence of the World!

What if I said to you being a patient parent is how we protect our kids? You might think I am crazy, but let me assure you I am not. Patience actually does protect our kids from negative choices, relationships and the influence of others. That’s right. I said it patience protects our kids. Whether it was from my research with 4,000 kids or research from numerous universities published in Psychology Today, it’s clear that it is the quality of the relationship we have with our kids that actually protects them from bad decisions, bad relationships, and escape behaviors.

Our Patience Will Dictate the Quality of our Relationships

One thing is for certain, our kids are imperfect. As a result our patience level is going to dictate the quality of our relationship with our kids to a great degree.

Recently, I’ve been working with a single dad and his daughter. The dad has been a very successful businessman and he’s used to having the leverage of paychecks over his employees. Now being a single dad, he has all this responsibility and the need to build a relational connection with his daughter.

What keeps getting in the way? His patience! He is a really high IQ leader. He knows what the right answers are, but at times the way he goes about trying to get his daughter to move in the right direction is all wrong. His approach is high on IQ and often low on EQ or emotional connection. In fact, at times his daughter described their relationship as a business relationship, not a father-daughter relationship. This can trigger her hurt and cause her to react or can cause her to distance seeking to replace the connection with other things. In either case, a patient loving, compassionate response is absolutely essential at this point in their relationship, but sometimes patience gets the better of him. The resulting conflicts are slowing down his daughter’s healing and grieving process. which of course does nothing to help him with his patience.

Impatience Undermines Relationships in a Profound Way

Impatience undermines our relationships because it leaves our kids feeling like we’re not a safe place for them. This is a huge risk today because when they emotionally distance from us and we’re not a safe place in their eyes, they’ll try and replace that void with something else. Distance can result in the bad decisions we all fear, which is why I’m saying patience can actually protect our kids.

I know for centuries we’ve been led to believe that our ability to direct, control and impose boundaries with our kids will work; this will protect them, but it doesn’t. It actually increases the risk. What truly protects our kids is a close, safe relationship that allows for deeper more open communication that can help them learn to think, prioritize and make wise decisions for themselves.

Patience is not just Important for us but for all our family members because patience has many personal benefits as well. Here are four reasons to cultivate patience.

1. Patience is tied to mental health: This just makes sense. When we’re patient, we’re not agitated, frustrated, or easily upset. Our stress level is a lot lower.

2. We make better friends:

3. Patience enables us to achieve our goals. If we stop and think about it, it’s true. When we lose our patience while we’re working on something, it distracts us, delays us, lowers our productivity and may cause us to quit. This is why patient people are more likely to achieve their goals.

4. Patience is linked to good physical health

Kids Pick Up our Bad Habits Faster then Our Good Ones

Patience doesn’t just have a benefit for us but for our kids and our family culture. The only way to teach our kids to be patient is to become patient ourselves. Kids pock up our bad habits ten times faster than our good ones. Let’s face it, it’s hard to be joyful and have fun together if there’s a patience problem growing in our home.

It’s really helpful to look up the words we use every day in the dictionary. This is the definition of patience:

The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry, frustrated or upset.

In fact, a number of articles go on to explain that the primary word we should be focused on is impatience, not patience. I found it very helpful to research information on impatience. I discovered that impatience is associated with not being able to achieve one’s desired outcome in a timely manner.

Having a child in may ways is the definition of impatience

Having a toddler, a three year old or an adolescent means that rarely are things going to go or move as quickly as we’d like them to go. This can bring out impatience because we’re being blocked related to our goals and objectives for the day. This is why we need to stop and examine ourselves because the problem is really us, not our kids or our spouse.

Our View of Parenting Can Set Us up for Impatience

Why do I say this? We have a goal. We want to see that goal happen in a timely manner. As a result we need those around us to do what we’re asking them to do in a timely manner. It’s all about us, our goals, our timing, our perspective. In fact, one might even argue that the traditional view of parenting that we’ve all been taught or raised with by our parents is based on this same paradigm. It is based on our expectations, our boundaries, and our desired outcome for our kids, which often leads to impatience because our kids get in the way of our expectations, desired outcomes and goals. Perhaps our view of parenting may be contributing to our impatience, which causes our kids to distance from us.

Kids Can Emotionally Distance and We May Not Realize It!

It’s important to note that in my research with 4,000 kids, parents did not realize their kids were emotionally distancing from them because their kids knew how they needed to act around their parents to keep their parents happy and avoid their reactions and impatience. As a result I found that these kids were emotionally hurt and distance was growing between them and their parents without the parents’ awareness and crucial understanding.

As I reviewed the research related to patience, I was surprised how comparatively little research was available versus other topics. Perhaps that is because it’s an uncomfortable topic; we hate to admit our impatience. If we boil it down, impatience is really nothing more than selfishness. I say that because all the articles spoke in terms of impatience stemming from something disrupting or getting in the way of our goals and desires. They are being thwarted, which makes things more difficult for us. The focus is all about us and our desires. our being selfish.

Either driving in bumper to bumper traffic or our kids’ delaying our getting out of the house on time can cause us to get impatient. Our goal is impeded so we become impatient. Our goal and or task becomes more important than the relationship in that moment in time.

What do We do if We’re Struggling with Impatience?

To help answer this question, let’s look at two key points from an article titled “10 tips to help you become more patient parents.” Frankly, the article put it quite bluntly. Their first tip is:

Know that it’s not your child, it’s you.”

Ouch. That hurts a bit, doesn’t it, parents? I want you to know I’m right there with you. I’ve gotten so much better, so much more loving, compassionate and grace filled with my kids. But just yesterday, because I didn’t sleep well the night before, I was dead exhausted and was really short and chippy with Eric my youngest son. What makes it different though is I realized it and I actually said, “Dude, I’m sorry. I’m just dead exhausted. Can you cut me a little space, a little grace because I’m just flat out spent and I can’t take anything right now.” He looked at me and said, “Okay, I get it,” and came over and gave me a hug.

When we’re impatient, when we react, when we become frustrated, when we get angry, the article states that we need to realize it’s us, not our kids!

Wait a Minute, They Behaved Badly

You may be thinking, wait a minute. They were slow putting on their shoes. They weren’t moving towards the door fast enough. They were going to make us late. That’s why I lost my patience. But here’s what the article and the research behind it proves. Frustration, impatience and anger are your responsibility not those around you.

When you feel impatient or anger building up inside, that’s when you need to take a step back and evaluate the situation. It’s important to find the emotional trigger that is making you upset because your child’s actions are not the problem.

You may be thinking, wow, I don’t want to read this article, but it’s really true. Too often I talk with parents who blame their impatience, frustration and anger on their spouse or their kids. That doesn’t mean they don’t love their spouse and their kids; it may mean that there’s some brokenness in their heart.They don’t want to become frustrated and angry with their kids or their spouse, but they’re carrying some wounds inside that limits their ability to interpret, process and communicate their feelings in a productive way. The pain, hurt and anger get triggered by something those closest to them do or say and they are instantly frustrated, upset, angry or yelling.

So what if it is not simply selfishness about your goals for timing being thwarted that is leading to impatience. Then it is likely something deeper. A hidden emotional trigger. An unresolved, unhealed wound or issue that you’re carrying around inside. When this is the case our kids or spouse can say something fairly minor and it trips off that pool of pain and all of a sudden our patience is blown right out of the window.

Kids Will Say the Darnedest Things to Us

Kids will often say things to their parents, mom or dad, like you’re mean, stupid or clueless.    Now that I’ve undertaken my own healing process and allowed the Spirit to circumcise my heart, such comments can actually bring a smile to my face. Why? Because they don’t make me feel hurt any more or get me upset. They simply are not triggering internal negativity about myself or unhealed wounds. I kind of chuckle and say, “Okay, how come you think I’m mean?”

#1 Admit it

If this is the area you’re struggling with, the first thing you need to do is stop and both admit and accept that the frustration, the impatience, the anger you’re dealing with is really not your kid’s fault. It’s not our spouse’s fault. It lies on your side of the ledger.

#2 Break the Selfish Spirit and Humble Ourselves

The next step is to break through your selfishness, be humble and truly examine yourself and your heart. This will help you understand what’s going on inside.

#3 Identify the Triggers We have from our Past

We need to identify our triggers and where they come from. In the second segment of this program, we’re going to talk about those triggers, how we can identify them and what we can begin to do to overcome them. Then we can become that caring, compassionate, grace-filled parent we desire to become. Triggers cause is to blame our frustration, our impatience and our anger on our kids or our spouse.

When this happens we trap ourselves. How does that happen? Our impatience hurts those closest to us. They pull away and their hurt starts to trigger them. They become impatient with us and all of a sudden we’re in an impatience circle where we’re triggering each other and also blaming each other. No one breaks the cycle by saying, “Wow, there’s something going on with me that’s causing me to have high expectations, need my goals to be met right away or have my kids perform and jump.”

If we don’t want to be selfish and we do want to have great relationships, we need to peruse leading like the Good Shepherd in a loving, patient, serving manner that draws people closer to us. We need to be pursue healing and wellness in our hearts if we desire to be like Jesus where our kids want to chase us around the lake like the 5,000 chased Jesus around the lake. That won’t happen if we react and get angry. Just think about it. Imagine if Jesus reacted and got angry over and over again with his disciples. Would they have followed him? Would they have been there to continue his message? Would they have been there to love and disciple the next generation of believers? If Jesus had had a patience problem, if God was an impatient God, would we be here today listening to the faith radio network

#4 Becoming more like the Good Shepherd

One of the keys to breaking impatience in ourselves is humility. Jesus had all power and authority. He could have forced anyone to do anything He desired, but He didn’t. Jesus was incredibly humble. Humility is the quality or condition of having a modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance.

#5 Seek to Understand by Putting yourself in your Kid’s Position

This means we don’t think of ourselves, our goals and our objectives so highly that we can’t stop and look through the other person’s eyes and seek to understand their perspective. This is where the article’s second tip for becoming a more patient parent comes in. It says: “Look at the situation from your child’s perspective.”

One of the questions I love to ask parents when I’m doing a live event in a church is do you expect your kids to jump up from their game, their book, their toy, or their video immediately when you say it’s time to go? Most say, “Yes.” Then I’ll ask, “When you’re in the middle of an email you’re writing to a friend, family member or for work, and your spouse says, Honey, would you take out the garbage? Do you interrupt that email, jump up and go do the garbage and then come back to the email or do you finish the email first?”

Of course we all know the answer to that question, which is why it’s so important as adults to have a humble attitude with our kids. Why? Because what they’re doing is as important to them as what we’re doing is to us. Their perspectives are just very different. Granted, they don’t have a mortgage and they don’t have the deadlines that we face, but what they’re doing in their world is equally important or maybe more important in their eyes than what you’re asking them to do.

Impatience Begets Impatience

Impatience in these situations only serves to make things worse. When we get frustrated and upset, what often happens is that our kids get upset and push back. All of a sudden we’re in this battle of wills that ends up taking more time than if we had asked our kid, why is this game so important to you? I’ve found once we listened to them and then say, “ We really need to go, you can come back to it later.” They’ll disengage because they felt heard and understood. We can’t get there if we get impatient when our goals are pressing on us and let ourselves become frustrated or upset.

Look at the World Through your Kids’ Eyes

When we stop and really look at the world through our kids’ eyes, it helps increase our patience. Why is this? It keeps us from acting on our assumptions which can cause our impatience. What do I mean by that?

I talk with parents and kids all the time. Parents have assumptions as to why their kids are doing what they’re doing. A great example is an adolescent son to whom the mom says, “Hey, would you take out the trash?” Five minutes later she comes back and asks, “Did you take out the trash?” The kid says, “No, I forgot.” The mom assumes he’s being lazy or are lied and did not really forget, which results in her being frustrated, reacting or giving a lecture. The child is hurt and frustrated because he actually did forget given the adolescent brain. Electrical activity actually shifts from the front lobes to the back lobes of the adolescent brain. As a result, short term memory is adversely impacted. Her son really did forget, but the assumption that he’s lazy and just dodging the work leads to hurt on his side and to impatience on the mother’s which breaks down the relationship.

This is why so many things go awry during the adolescent years. I’ve found in my coaching, when I sit down and listen to a child and then help that child share his perspective, feelings, and issues with his parents, light bulbs come on in the parents, like no tomorrow.

They’re often say, “Wow, I didn’t realize that’s what you were thinking or feeling.”

The parent might add, “Oh, that’s why you’re reacting to me…. I thought it was just because you have a bad attitude and you’re becoming rebellious.”

The conversations I facilitate between kids and parents really help resolve a lot of issues and help the parents arrive at a more patient place because they’re actually seeing things through their kids’ eyes. They have understanding. They develop compassion for their child as opposed to assumptions that lead to frustration because the kids aren’t hitting their expectations or they’re not delivering upon the goals they have for their family.

Patience and Dealing with Our Triggers Next Week!

We really need to look at ourselves and realize that patience, frustration and anger are on our side of the ledger. They’re not caused by what our kids or spouse are doing. We will continue the series next week talking about emotional triggers, how we identify them and what to do with them. When our kids or spouse say things that trigger a strong emotional response, it will be very difficult to conquer our impatience without first looking at what’s emotionally going on with us and why we’re triggering.

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