From “Wherever You Go There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn
“(Patience) is remembering that things unfold in their own time…Being in a hurry doesn’t help, and it can create a great deal of suffering---sometimes in us, sometimes in those who have to be around us.”

“Scratch the surface of impatience and what you will find lying beneath it, subtly or not so subtly, is anger. It’s the strong energy of not wanting things to be the way they are and blaming someone (often yourself) or something for it.”

“we attempt to bring balance to the present moment, understanding that in patience lies wisdom, knowing that what will come next will be determined in large measure by how we are now.”

Some of the hardest things I have been through did not have a fix. I wanted a fix. I wanted to tell people what they were doing wrong so that my pain would stop. Under the surface of my impatience was anger, and overwhelming energy of wanting things to be different, and blaming people for it.

I make bad choices when I am impatient.

We used to be told as parents that consequences had to be immediate in order to be effective.

That is a lie.

Neither we nor our children are dogs that must be trained.

But it is a lie that I bought into for quite a long time. The other lie that complicated things was this: you must follow through with consequences. If you didn’t your children would not have consistency and it would damage them.

The issue, of course, is patience. When our kids get crazy in one way or another we want it to stop. It is hard. Sometimes it is painful. Often it is emotionally draining. Naturally we lose patience, and beneath that loss of patience is anger, a natural reaction to feeling controlled by another’s choices.

As we raise our children there is an expectation that we are molding them in some way, smoothing out their rough spots, correcting their errors. And we are.

But when we get impatient…

when we combine the impatience we feel with pressure for immediacy and consistency in follow through…

and then add to that the fear that if we don’t do something immediately and consistently our children will be messed up somehow, then we are in trouble.
Lately, when I have a conflict with one of my sons, we talk about the problem and we agree that we will make decisions about it later. This is even for big problems like stealing. We don’t have an immediate consequence. We wait for cool heads and a sense of rightness.

Sometimes I even yell, “I can’t talk about this right now! I’m so angry I’ll say something I shouldn’t. I will talk about this after I take a break and calm down.”

If I do blow it and fire off an immediate consequence, I no longer feel bound to follow through with it. If God can be merciful, it is good for me to follow that example. Kids respond to relationship better than they respond to rigid rules for parenting.

Last time we had a really big problem it took two to three weeks to figure out how to make it right. But it was figured out so well that we all learned from the process. The offending person truly was sorry instead of angry at having some consequence slapped on him before he’d even had a chance to recognize how he had offended people. He wanted a consequence that made things right, not a consequence that had no connection with what had happened.


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