We like to joke that when God was handing out patience, my younger daughter was standing in another line. Since birth, she has been my child who wants what she wants, and she wants it now. As she’s grown, we’ve been working to teach her patience, but it hasn’t been easy.
It seems that some kids are naturally more impatient than others. My older daughter probably has more patience than I do. She, it seems, was born knowing how to wait for things. That’s not to say she never gets impatient, but she seems to instinctively understand that some things are worth waiting for.
Whether your child understands the need to wait or demands everything right now, patience is an important character trait to teach. There’s value in learning to wait.
When we teach our children to wait, whether it’s waiting patiently for their turn or waiting for us to finish something so we can help them, we are teaching them to value others before themselves. We are teaching them that the world does not revolve around them. We are teaching them that not everything good comes immediately. And we are teaching them how to wait on God.
God does not always answer our prayers immediately. His plan is not always readily apparent. Sometimes He asks us to wait. If our kids never learn to wait, then they might miss out on the blessings God has for them because they’re busy rushing ahead of God’s plan. We want our kids to follow the words of Psalm 130:5: “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”
But our kids can’t wait for God, they can’t wait for His plan, they can’t practice patience unless we teach it to them. We have to be intentional about teaching our kids to wait. And much of that teaching comes from our own attitude. If we moan and groan every time we have to stand in a line, we teach our kids to be impatient. If we get frustrated when we’re waiting on someone else, then our kids will learn to be frustrated with waiting on others. If we grouse every time we get stuck in a traffic jam, then we teach our kids to do the same.
However, if we place the emphasis on enjoying the wait, then we teach our kids to value waiting. If we choose to use the time in line to talk with our kids or enjoy the people around us, then we teach our kids that there can be joy in waiting. If we turn up some Christian music on the radio and sing while sitting in a traffic jam, we teach our kids we can praise God in the waiting. If we choose to focus on the things we love about the people we’re waiting on, then we teach our kids how to value others while waiting.
In this go-go society, we have lost the ability to be patient. Our kids are growing up in a world where they have to wait for very little. Think about it. The Internet is slow when it takes more than 5 seconds to load a web page. We can buy something online and have it at our door the next day. We can instantly download songs and movies straight to our phones and TVs. The wait time for things gets shorter and shorter.
Yet, God is not an instant download. We still have to wait on His timing, on His plan. When we teach our kids to be patient, we are teaching them to better understand God. We are teaching them there is still value in waiting.