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These mistakes can keep you from being a good parent

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A few tips to avoid counterproductive parenting strategies.

According to St. Francis de Sales, “what we need (with children) is a cup of understanding, a barrel of love and an ocean of patience.” So, does this mean that it takes more love than understanding to raise a child? While this seems debatable, what is certain is that it takes infinite patience: toward ourselves, our children, the others — as well as toward God. 

Patience and restrained impatience are two different things

“Better a patient person than a warrior” (Pr 16:32).

So, patience is more important than courage. But, most of the time it goes unnoticed. Let’s take an example of patient parents, teaching their child how to tie his shoelaces. They will take time to show how it’s done, offer advice and encouragement, and give multiple chances to practice. In short, it will seem to the child that they have nothing better to do; their patience will go undetected.  

On the other hand, if the parents show frustration (nagging the child, telling him to “hurry up,” and manifest their general annoyance) it will be the case of of them trying to restrain their impatience. 

Being patient and restraining impatience are two entirely different things. When people restrain their impatience they repress their will. They place a lid on a boiling pot. Everything seems to be going fine until they explode, or (in the absence of emotional outlet) implode! In other words, sooner or later their impatience becomes apparent, taking a form of a violent outburst. It can be directed toward the other or toward oneself, but it’s always very damaging.  

Patience is the fruit of the Holy Spirit

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5: 22-23).

Patience goes hand in hand with self-control – both are the fruit of submission to the Holy Spirit. To be patient with our children, we must first place their education, their future and all that we wish for them into the hands of God. Patience and love rejoin each other in the present. Patience makes us live the present moment in full. Impatience only makes us regret that the future is not already here. 

To be patient is to surrender to Providence. The reason we get so impatient has to do with the fear that our children won’t be happy, that they won’t grow up well, that we will fail in our parental duties. If we think carefully, our impatience is inseparable from our lack of confidence. We want to hold victory in our hands, because deep down we’re not sure we’ve earned it. Our frustration can also be provoked by the desire to have it all – we want God and money, the success on Earth and the Kingdom to come. Our hearts are tormented and divided.

Patience is not passive

Patience isn’t content with “killing time,” waiting for transformation or improvement to take place. It encourages, forgives and accompanies with tenderness and compassion. It is the opposite of resignation. To be patient is to hope and live the present moment with God, because having resurrected in Christ we have already triumphed. To be patient is to see the signs of God’s mercy beyond one’s errors and failings.  

Christine Ponsard

 

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