The Myth of Patience

We as parents carry the legacy many traits in the name of virtues (or virtual quality 😉 and expect the child to follow the same. Patience is no different. Does patience depends on our expectations from people or situations?

Does this sound familiar?

A parent came to drop her child. She had planned that she will run some errands after dropping him, but for some reason that day the child was in no mood to go inside readily. So when they reached the waiting area she said to her child, “Go”. But the child just sported a blank look. She tried again, “Go, go in, everybody is going inside”. But the child was not budging. Soon her volume and tone of voice raised as she tried, “Go inside, session is starting, aunty is waiting, go in”. Soon she was very irritated and said, “Why don’t you go” I have to go, now GOOOOOO”.

Is parenting a lot about patience? If yes, how do I have more of it?

First let me put my opinion forward – I think patience is a Myth. In parenting or in real life we are not more patient or less patient. Or put the other way each one of us shows more patience or less patience at different times, in different situations, with different people.

Check these scenarios:

I am in a super market and I am comparing various brands – I take my own time to decide. But once I reach the payment counter and the check out person is taking more time I tend to become impatient. However, if I am waiting for the doctor and if the doctor is taking more time, I am pretty Ok with that. But if after the doctor’s appointment I have to pick up my daughter, then again I am pacing outside the doctor’s door impatiently.

Does it mean that I have less patience or more patience? Or does it mean that patience depends on something? Maybe the situation.

Here is my proposition:

Patience is Inversely proportional to expectations.
The more I expect from myself, the world around me, my child, and the less patience I seem to have with them. The less I expect, the more I am relaxed.

The reason we are Ok in the doctor’s clinic is because we expect the doctor to take time. But if I have to pick up my daughter, then today I am expecting (even wishing) that doctor will take less time, and hence I get impatient.

So let’s take another example – to show that patience per-se is not a quality but it depends on what kind of expectations do I have. Let’s say I am feeding my child and expect either of these two – child to eat the whole bowl or child to finish eating in 10 minutes.

Now the moment the child eats slowly or does not take interest in the food -I start getting impatient – I say, “Hey come on eat this much. You’re a fussy eater. Now come on.” patience goes out of the window. But what if before starting the meal, I was to say to the child, “Eat as much as you want”. What do you think it will do to my patience – now whether the child fast or slow and more or less it keeps me patient.
Some people will argue that this way the child will eat less. But your way of expectation also didn’t help. This way at least you are relaxed and child is relaxed and then chances are that she will actually eat more.

So what we are saying is that whenever you catch yourself thinking or saying that “I don’t have patience” rephrase the statement to “My expectations are too high”. And high expectation creates stress, not better results.

A classic example is of parents trying to put a child to sleep who doesn’t want to sleep. They will pat the child vigorously, till they run out of patience and give up. After some time they may just roll away. and soon the child, now left on his own, goes to sleep!

When we work from the paradigm of “I do not have patience” – it seems to imply, this is not in my control – the child is to be blamed for this, I am made like that, it cannot be made better. Its like patience is a resource and I have less of it. This thinking is final and fatalistic. However the moment you work from the paradigm of “My expectations are too high”– it implies that I am responsible for that – and my expectation are perfectly in my control. When I want I CAN LOWER THEM. This way of thinking is flexible and restorative.

So check out where you operate from – a lot of us have very high expectations from ourselves and from our children – “She should eat well, she should be organized, she should study well, on time, sitting properly in the chair with no shake in her concentration, while she should also learn her keyboard lessons fast so that she can play whenever I want her to play in front of my friends.

A taut string is very simple to break
A limp one can loop into endless possibilities!