One Key Trait All Great Parents Have in Common

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If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in parenting five kids (now aged 2, 12, 14, 18, 19), it’s the need for patience. That has not come easily to the second most impatient man in the world, but parenting has certainly exercised and strengthened this spiritual muscle over the years. So much so, I now believe that patience is Christian parents’ greatest need. Here are six areas of parenting where I’ve learned (and am learning) to exercise patience.

Wait for intellect to develop
Like most parents, especially like most home-schooling parents, when we were starting out we had high hopes for our kids to be experts in Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Gaelic by the age of three.

My older boys still remind me of when I tried to teach them the Hebrew imperfect conjugation when they were four and five. OK, that’s a little extreme, but most young parents over-estimate the intellectual abilities of their children and try to push them too hard too fast.

Even with teens, though, there are some lessons that just can’t be learned until the brain connections are formed. Now, when our kids can’t seem to grasp something, no matter how hard we or they try, we just wait a few months and try again.

Then, “Ping!” It’s there. In seconds.

Waiting can save a lot of work and stress—for us and them.

Wait for maturity to kick in
Sometimes we might look at teens and wonder, “When will they ever grow up?” They can get so excited about trivialities such as computer games, nail paint, muscle size, clothing brands, engine capacity, Vines, memes, etc. They can get so desperately upset about catty comments, rejection and put-downs. Their social skills and not very social or skillful.

We comfort, we cajole, we counsel, we correct, we scream; and they still revert to toddlerhood.

A year or two later, we notice they’ve left childish things behind—not just their toys but their tantrums—and maturity has crept up on them. Priorities have changed and they are even able to look adults in the eye and talk to them.

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David Murray
Dr. David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Seminary. He is also Pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. David is the author of Christians get depressed too, How Sermons Work, and Jesus on Every Page. You can read his blog at HeadHeartHand.org/blog or follow him on Twitter @davidpmurray. David is married to Shona and they have five children ranging from 4 months to 17 years old, and they love camping, fishing, boating, and skiing in the Lake Michigan area.

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