Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Family Forte: Kryptonite, Patience, and Hope

by: Topher Wiles
Kids aren’t naturally patient.  Patience must be taught. 

Yes, those are
rubber boots! 
     Picture this.  You’re arriving at home for a bite of lunch on a quick stop between errands.   You do a headcount of kids and find 3 of the 4 reading books in the house.  When you pose the inevitable query to your wife she responds with, “Just look out the window.”  There’s Micah dressed in full catcher’s gear (that is too big for him) running laps around the back yard barking orders to imaginary friends like “Shoot two, shoot two!”  When he finally sees my truck Micah runs inside, throws off his mask to reveal a sweat drenched head, and proudly proclaims, “Dad, I’m ready to play baseball!”
Kids aren’t naturally patient.  Patience must be taught. 

     If Micah was a superhero, patience would be his kryptonite. Our third-born son is a normal five year old with an active imagination and indestructible mindset that leads him to believe he can do anything.  He sees his 12 and 10 year old brothers participating in karate, baseball, and music lessons on a regular basis, so naturally, he thinks it is his turn for them as well.  As both elder sons are getting dirty on the diamond a couple times a week Micah struggles with why it isn’t his time to don the cleats and swing a bat. 
Kids aren’t naturally patient.  Patience must be taught. 

     Each family has to make their own decisions on how to manage their time, priorities, and abilities. When it comes to league sports, we chose a different route than many of our peers, embracing a play-at-home mindset rather than running the hectic, divide & conquer, fast-food-for-dinner-every-night-under-the-lights-lifestyle.  Based on research, we’ve decided that our kids are allowed one league sport per year starting at 10 years old.  Don’t let our self-imposed limitations fool you; we are active!  Our family regularly plays basketball, wiffleball, and freeze-tag together with church friends and neighbors outside.  Rather than tie up 30 evenings in a 3 month period with a league, we have our kids jumping in 1 mile mud runs and 5k’s with us in their preschool years.   During the summer, family tennis days are weekly regulars in our schedules, even putting a racket in the hands of our 2 year old daughter, but no early-age leagues.  Since we have chosen a schedule plan that affords our family more time at home around the dinner table, more date nights for mom & dad, and more vacation adventures, our children have had to wait longer to play in schedule-crushing multi-league sports like other kids.   With our personal family choices, 5 year old Micah struggles with why he isn’t allowed to be on a league team. 

Kids aren’t naturally patient.  Patience must be taught.

      The Good Book is littered with wisdom on counter-cultural patience such as the following.   But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Romans 8:25).” “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him (Psalm 37:7).” “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2).” “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31).” “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).”  
Yet, the Bible verse that tips me off onto how I can best build patience for my child is Paul’s words in Romans 5:4, “Patience produces character, and character produces HOPE.”

     HOPE is the key to avoid frustration when delayed.  For Micah, when he begs to be put on a league team that we know will limit our volunteerism or decrease our quality family time together, we respond gently with our plan of hope.  I say, “Micah, remember, when you are 10 years old you will get to play baseball.  Until that time, let’s keep playing together in the back yard.  Why don’t we take a minute right now to throw you a few pitches.”  Instantly Micah smiles as he grabs his bat to smite the leather ball as a caveman would with his club.  To curb frustration, Micah gets little tastes of the hope to come.  Wiffle-ball with mom, catcher drills with brothers, and special trips alone at the ball field with dad are fun little tastes of hopeful things to come. 
Kids aren’t naturally patient.  Patience must be taught.

     Every family life plan is different, yet we each decide our priorities in life for our family and we must be ok with removing the things that distract us from those priorities.  We must be resolute in saying, “No” or “Not yet” to our children, all while we give them taste of the hope to come.   Here are some other ways you can build patience in your children.

  • Small Doses Starting Young – As toddlers teach them patience in a positive way.  Ask them to calm down before you fulfill their request.  Have the wait quietly for 1 minute before you put more milk in their sippy cup.  It’s not much but it’s a start to build on as they get older.
  • Purposeful Delayed Gratification – In a world where everything is instant, make them wait.  You might want a new puppy just like they do, but make them wait for a birthday or till Christmas to get one.  To build hope, write little notes telling them how excited you are as well.
  • Make Them Pay For It – They want a new Nerf gun don’t they?  Make them save up the money with extra chores to pay for it.  Resist the urge to front them the money; make a special trip later for them to bring their own wallet to pay for that N-Strike Elite Strong Arm Blaster.

Yes, patience is kryptonite to a kid. However, exposing them to small doses of patience with hope when they’re young will later turn them into a superhero in a culture struggling with character.  Kids aren’t naturally patient; it must be taught.  So decide your family priorities and invest in building patience coupled with hope.  You’ll be glad you did.

“Patience produces character, and character produces hope.” - Romans 5:4

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email,, or through our website,