Too often I’m a bad example, and then when I find my kids impatient or mouthy I demand they change. Now.
I sat in the doctor’s office and watched as another mom hurried in with two kids. She made sure to let the front desk clerk know she was early and expected to be able to get in right away. She also let them know (about a dozen times) that she wasn’t happy with having to fill out the necessary paperwork for herself and her kids.
“I would have picked this up ahead of time, filled it all out, and made a copy. This is all the same information. This is such a waste of time,” she grumbled over and over again, making sure everyone in the waiting room heard her.
This mom’s kids sat on either side of her with impatient, frustrated looks on their faces, too. And while I don’t know this family I know two things:
1. Kids do what they see and…
2. Too often I act just like this other mom did. I have things to do, and I don’t like to wait for anyone. I also don’t like it when something unexpected comes up, robbing me of my time. And … when I feel as if I’ve been wronged—by anyone from a service provider or even one of my kids—I make my displeasure known.
Too often I’m a bad example, and then when my kids are impatient or mouthy I demand they change. Now.
What’s up with impatience?
Impatience usually comes because we have lots to do and we don’t give ourselves enough time to do it. We fill our schedules, and we try to plow through as much as possible so we don’t get behind. While this may look like a scheduling issue, it really comes down to our hearts. As parents, we base our worth on what we accomplish. And then we teach our kids to do the same.
We don’t trust fully that we belong to God and that we don’t need to do anything to prove ourselves. Instead, we set unrealistic expectations in our minds and attempt to live up to them. We act as if we need to do more and more. We live by the world’s standards and try to keep up.
What’s up with being mouthy?
To make matters worse, we not only run ourselves ragged but we get upset and impatient with others when they disrupt our plans. I may not share my annoyance with someone at the dentist’s office, but I’m quick to share it with my kids. “Hurry, hurry. Why are you so slow? Pick up the pace we need to get going …” I get frustrated with them as if they were the ones who packed my schedule.
Then, following my example, my kids end up impatient and mouthy not only with each other but also with me. I don’t like what I see and deep down I know I’m partly to blame.
So what’s a solution?
1. Tune in to Jesus and walk in step with him. When we take time to walk with Jesus we will be reminded of how valuable we are to him. When we feel his peace then we don’t have to strive to keep up. In Matthew 11:28-30 we read, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
2. Take a serious look at your schedules and trim it down. One verse that convicted me to do this is Ecclesiastes 4:6, “Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” When I try to do too much not only am I overwhelmed but I mistreat others because of it. Look at our schedule. What can you strip out to make it one handful instead of two?
3. Realize that I can be the best example for my kids. When I find peace, treat others with understanding and care, and watch my tongue I’m training my kids how to act. If I want my kids to act right I need to start by acting right first. I know why my kids are impatient and mouthy, and with God’s help, I can help us all to do better.