3 Steps Closer to Patient Parenting

Impatience is a gateway sin. What begins with impatience often quickly leads to anger, unkindness, and lack of self-control. Impatience operates similarly to a fleshly appetite: when we're impatient our flesh wants to taste the surging satisfaction of an angry outburst. Of course, a flash of angry impatience against our children brings satisfaction for a fleeting instant only to be quickly followed by lingering regret.

We know when the emotion surging through our heart is simply innocent frustration (not necessarily sinful) or when it's angry, sinful impatience.

I'm the blessed mama to five-year-old and three-year-old boys and a one-year-old baby girl. I love my three little ones with a profound, fierce love. They bring more delight than I ever could have imagined, and I would lay down my life for them in a heartbeat. But as deeply as I love and delight, I struggle against the fleshly and indulgent sin of impatience. 

For most parents who experience impatient anger, we read the way of love in 1 Corinthians 13 and our heart shouts, "I want that!" We love our children, and we know true love is patient. We genuinely desire to be patient, gentle, and long-suffering parents. Our heart's true desire is to model for our kids a tempered, gracious response that reflects our patient, loving heavenly Father.

So how do we grow in this?

If we're prone to impatience and have a natural propensity for sinful anger, how do we put this sin to death? How do we grow closer to that patient, loving parent we long to become?

1. Pause

There is something appetite-like about a surge of angry impatience. It can be so helpful in that first, initial moment of impatience—before an angry word has bubbled forth from the heart—to simply stop and be still. Just pause! Don't give in to the temptation. It won't satisfy. It will only lead to sadness. In that initial moment, perhaps pray or look for perspective or even momentarily walk away. But don't be quick to get angry. James exhorts us to "be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger" (James 1:19), and Solomon reminds us that a wise person is "not quick in your spirit to become angry" (Eccl. 7:9). Sometimes when we're willing to simply pause for a moment before embracing impatience, God graciously reminds us we don't have to give in to temptation.

2. Play

There are many times when young children do infuriating things that, though they might rouse our angry impatience, aren't actually disobedient or sinful. Often, they're just being kids! When children irritate us, we must break the pattern of responding in impatience and realize that a cheerful, playful response is a life-giving option. Playfulness so quickly diffuses the tension not just between parent and child, but the tension and mounting anger within our own heart. It's almost like a playful response (at appropriate times) reminds us of who these precious, funny, little people actually are. There are so many times when instead of being impatient and getting angry, we could scoop a child into our arms and just start tickling them, playing with them, making them laugh.

3. Pray

Prayer is powerful. Like every other part of our Christian life, our desire to put sin to death and to pursue holiness in parenting is something to pray about. A few days back I got a text from a dear friend of mine who has two young children. Her text simply said, "I'm sinning against my kids . . ."

I texted her back with words that maybe you need to hear today too: "Yes, you're a sinner. And us moms often sin against our kids. Has it taken you to the cross? Have you gone to that place where your sin was made no more, where grace and mercy freely flow? The cross: that place (the only place!) where we are given fresh grace and new life. So often our kids are the ones who know and see our sin up close and personal. But such hope is found at the cross. Such grace. Such joy."

What about you? Do you struggle with angry impatience? And if so, has it brought you to find fresh grace at the foot of the cross?



About the Author

Elisha Galotti

Elisha Galotti

Elisha Galotti spends most of her time mothering her three children in Toronto, Canada, where her husband, Justin, pastors West Toronto Baptist Church. Together they long to see their city won for Christ. Elisha is a lover of the arts … read more …

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