When Parenting Loses It’s Patience

I’ve been struggling with parenting lately.  Bean is at this age that constantly tests my patience and, if I’m completely honest, I have not exactly passed those tests.  I’ve been quick to snap at my kids, quick to anger, quick to discipline.  Sometimes those actions are needed, but sometimes I go to them because they are easier than having the patience to parent kindly.

Gosh, that sounds horrible when I write it out.

This Sunday, our minister gave a sermon about individualism. She talked about discovering who God calls us to be and using the gifts we have been given. A lot of the sermon was about looking inside yourself, but the parts of the sermon that spoke to me were the parts about giving our loved ones the space and encouragement to discover who they are as God’s children. She talked about raising children to be not who we want them to be, but who God calls them to be. She talked about kindness and acceptance and patience. All those things that have been missing in my interactions with my kids lately. Sometimes, I love when sermons reach into your heart like that and touch you personally. But this time, it made me squirm a little in my seat. I was embarrassed in front of God. Embarrassed in front of Chris. Embarrassed in front of my children. Because God was pointing at me in that service and saying, “Back off my children, momma.”

I think my heart was open to hearing that message on Sunday because Saturday had been so spectacular. It was the parenting day that I had always wanted – full of places to be and cheering for my kids. Gracie had her first ballet lesson, which was just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

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She was about the most un-GRACE-ful kid in the room, bless her little heart. Her little belly stuck out of that pink leotard and she stood on those long, skinny, little legs of hers and looked every inch like a flamingo.

I watched her through the little window in the door (which is why the videos are so blurry), and couldn’t stop smiling.

After her ballet lesson, we scooted on home to meet the rest of the family so that we could head to Bean’s soccer game.

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He really loves soccer practice, but he isn’t crazy about game days. I don’t think he likes playing in big herds of kids. He’s fairly popular with his friends, but when given the choice, he always seems to prefer to play in smaller groups or on his own. He gets overwhelmed with large groups or activities, and I think game day is a little intimidating for him.

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Chris and I do our best to encourage him out there, but therein lies my parenting dilemma right now. My “encouraging” looks more like “pushing.” Because Bean is naturally a little shier than others, my go-to instinct is to give him a little nudge to get him out there with everyone, but as my patience wears thin these days with factors other than my family, I have noticed that my nudging is getting a little pushier. My tendency towards tough love has drifted more to the tough and less to the love.

Which is why Sunday spoke to me. I adore my children and, most of the time, I’m a pretty good parent. But I have forgotten that these kids are on loan to me. They belong to their Heavenly Father, also. And he has created every hair on their heads, every thought in their heads, every gift in their little hearts to become the people that HE wants them to be. Parenting is much bigger than me, and I have momentarily forgotten what a privilege it is to have been chosen be their mom.

As we sat in church on Sunday and I tried to stealthily cry so no one could see me, I prayed the same prayer over and over again. “Lord, parent through me. Lord, parent through me.” And as we have begun this week, I have continued to go to that prayer over and over and over again. “Lord, parent through me.” When I lose my patience, when I need more kindness, more lovingness in my words, “Lord, parent through me.” And it has reminded me to stop and take a breath, and to remember who my children are and whose my children are.

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15 Thoughts to “When Parenting Loses It’s Patience”

  1. Chrissy H.

    You are not alone. Thanks I needed this too. My 5 year old has been testing me lately also. Kindergarten is a real game changer.

  2. Heather

    Thank you for this post! I am the mother of 3, a 5 year old daughter and 18 month old twins and I often have the same struggles. My patience isn’t what I wish it was and sometimes I feel like I’m mean mommy, especially with my daughter. Five years old is a tough age, it feels like everything is a battle of wills and that can wear you down. I appreciate how honest this post was and it’s helpful to me to know I’m not the only one who feels this way or has the struggle.

  3. This morning I got up early to take our dog to the park and walk him before the crazy of the day started. Towards the end of our mile, I realized that it would be a great time to pray and prayed almost that exact same thig – for the exact same reason. I found myself asking for grace – and today’s portion of patience. That I would parent with the fruit I the spirit tater than raising my voice 158,352 times in a day. Yesterday was horrible. Today is a new day, with no mistakes in it… Yet. (Bonus points if you know where that quote is from)

    1. Melissa

      What a wonderful story, thanks for sharing it… I especially like your Anne quote 🙂

  4. So needed to hear that – have been struggling with the same. We love you, and love that you share and help remind us too. 🙂

  5. Ummm . . . I’m sitting here trying not to cry. I so get this, and I don’t think there is a mom on this planet who doesn’t understand. Great post.

  6. Candice

    Have you read “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”? Bean may be more of an introvert than shy, necessarily. I’m an introvert, my sister is an extrovert, and her son is totally an introvert and she and her husband (also an extrovert) get super frustrated with him when he’s not ready to jump into stuff the same way they are. Reading her some passages from the book really helped her to understand what he needed (and she’s a middle school teacher, just like you). 🙂

    http://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Power-Introverts-World-Talking/dp/0307352153

    Also, yeah. I get this. Keeping patience is the hardest and feels the worst when you lose it. Parenting = not for wusses.

  7. Jamie

    I don’t have kids yet, so I can’t really relate. But, I do often find myself looking for more patience wth my husband. On another note, those videos of Gracie are to die for…I couldn’t stop smiling!! Her inablity to gallop sideways is insanely cute.

  8. This post was written for me, thank you! I needed this as a reminder because of other responsibilities outside the home, I’ve allowed myself to feel tons of pressure and take it out on my children.

    Great post!

  9. Sarah

    Oh how this spoke directly to my heart. My kid are 2.5 & 1.5 and some days I could just cry at how overwhelming they are. I need to write Lord parent through me today on sticky notes and put them everywhere!! Thank you

  10. Meredith N

    I love this reminder that our children are on loan. Thank you!

  11. Sarah S

    So beautiful. I too find myself too far on the “tough” side of the tough love sometimes and I try to picture what that looks like through my children’s eyes and then I feel ashamed. More often than not, when they are acting out they are going through a rough time in their own life and that’s when I choose to be the hardest on them? It’s really humbling. One of the things I love about parenting is the endless chances. I will always give my daughter another chance, I will always extend the olive branch to my son if he will take it. Each day is a chance to do better.

  12. Suzanne

    Parenting is kicking my ass lately and I’m often feeling at my wits end. It’s more to do with the balance in life with work, raising a baby and allowing her freedom to grow. Parenting is so, so tough. Thank you for posting this…it helps me tremendously.

  13. Alex

    Thank you for posting thoughts like this. I’ve been reading your blog for years and I really relate to your writing and experiences.
    Some similar things are happening in my parenting life and I hope I can remember your and your minister’s thoughts!

  14. Sounds like a book by Nancy Rose called Raise the Child You’ve Got, Not The One You Want. It’s a pretty good book! http://nancyjrose.com

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