When It's Hard to Be a Patient Parent

by Joel Littlefield November 15, 2018

There are many challenges to parenting, some of which are innate. Some parental challenges just come with the territory. Every parent knows there will be days of exhaustion in the battle to teach our offspring the rights and wrongs of this life. Even just the common decency of "pleases" and "thank yous,"chewing with one’s mouth closed, and not interrupting one another is often like trying to teach a little puppy to use the bathroom outside instead of on living room floor. The repetitive lessons and talks are happening, and in fine fashion I’m sure, but still, there’s “pee on the carpet” just about every day.

“How many times do I have to tell you…” Ever said that? Every parent has. And, unfortunately, only God knows that number.

The issue of repetitive parental discipline is real and will always be a part of our daily lives until the day our sweet, wonderful, gifts from God are matured and moved out. I’m convinced that the greater lesson in this issue, though, is not their obedience. Rather, it's our patience with them. Here’s the crazy part: I know that you agree. The reason I know is because you feel it in your heart of hearts every time you have to say the same thing for the zillionth time and lose it. I know because I’ve done it. I, just like you, have raised my voice in frustration, gotten angry, and said things I wish I hadn’t. I’ve had to repent, say "sorry," and come clean with the fact that my attitude was the issue more than their disobedience, or at least equally the issue.

Be patient, fellow parents. Reflect the heart of Jesus. The principle is at the root of the gospel. If we’re to lead gospel-filled homes, we need to pray harder for this than we do most other things. When we pray for patience, though it sounds very specific, it’s also very broad. Think about it: patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. And if patience can be mastered in us through our submission to Christ and His word, then imagine what else will flow from this.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” (Galatians 5:22-23a)

There it is. That word, patience, stands out like a sore thumb doesn’t it? Even those who are best at it will admit they need more if it. Our patience in the Spirit, flowing from us in the most unlikely and often maddening situations, putting out fires of wrath and laying the groundwork for God’s Spirit teach our children through us. I imagine we would all like to see these fruits.

The next time you give a repeated lesson to your teenager or say the same thing you just said two seconds ago to your kindergartner, remember to preach this to yourself. Remember the patience of Christ through the years of your "just not getting it." Even this very day, He is showing patience toward you and absolutely he never shows unnecessary anger.

What do we do when we fail? (And we will fail.) We remember that Jesus, who never rudely interrupted His mother, never back-talked His Father, and never so much as thought a sinful thought, died in your place to make you righteous in Him. You are covered by His grace, the very grace that you and I have been called to walk in and that supplies us strength today.