Who doesn’t want good relationships with their adult children and grandchildren? Sometimes, however, things get in the way of that happening. Whether you are facing obstacles right now, or you have a strong, healthy relationship with your adult children, these five practices matter for both.
So, let’s add to humility the second of five ways to cultivate a healthy relational environment…
Be Patient and Restrained
Patience does not come easily for me. Some of you know what I’m talking about. The opposite of patience—impatience—wants things fixed NOW. That’s me.
I have a grandson who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Though high functioning, he still has physical and relational limitations. I remember the challenge of teaching him to ride a bike when he was six or seven years old.
Besides having to cope with his fear of falling, he also struggled with balance and control. His muscle strength in his legs was considerably less than many boys his age. I’m embarrassed to admit that I found myself getting impatient with him when he couldn’t do the basic things most boys his age do. My impatience only aggravated the situation and demotivated him from trying.
I learned to take a deep breath, and remember that he was not other boys. God made him with the limitations he has for a reason, so there was no point in being impatient. I asked God to help me be patient and restrained in my responses to him.
Patience in Practice
When I put patience into practice, his response to me and his willing to try changed dramatically. He still struggled, and has never been able to ride a bike like most boys his age. But he did learn better once he felt safe with me. My impatience only served to make him more insecure and fearful. Patience freed him to try harder. (The same is true now that he is learning to drive. God help me!)
Not every situation we face in family relationships is as basic as learning to ride a bike or drive a car… or is it? Is it possible we make more of things than is necessary? Granted, there are situations that are unspeakably devastating in some families. We don’t always know why. It could be the product of dysfunctional circumstances and attitudes. Sometimes these things can result from wrong messages that have been repeatedly communicated via friends, culture or from us. But many times, there is no clear explanation. It just happens because we’re all sinners, and Satan is hard at work to deceive and destroy.
The point is, how will we respond? Do we worry and try to fix it, or patiently wait upon the Lord? Patience has a way of easing tensions and opening doors of communication. Patience removes the need to judge or condemn. Patience frees us from worry so we can trust God knowing that He persistently pursues those He loves and calls to himself. We are not God. We do not know all that is going on. We can, however, patiently pray, hope and restrain our actions and reactions for the benefit of all.
If your adult child has walked away from the faith they once professed and embraced as a child, be strong. “We who are strong,” Paul reminds us, patiently “bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1). Patience is a product of our view of God. It is a quality of strength that recognizes only God is “able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20).
That’s worth waiting for.
What tends to push your impatience button, and why? Write down one step you will take this week to demonstrate more patience in this area. Ask your spouse, if possible, to pray with you about this area of impatience.