Patience or Kindness?
I’ve been tossing this question around for a while now. Some may feel these attributes are interchangeable or that one should not be greater than the other. In theory, I’d agree. And I did for many years. In application, I found something else to be true recently.
There is definitely a relationship between patience and kindness.
Without patience, a putting up with either emotionally or physically in the absence of anger, kindness can’t truly exist. Kindness though is a state of mind that comprehensively includes love, tenderness, and sympathy. Kindness is an attribute of warmth while patience can lack warmth.
As parents, we need to exhibit both attributes. But I began to wonder if a particular mental attitude would enable me to parent more effectively than the other or with more joy than the other.
Parenting with Patience
I went thru a slightly challenging parenting phase about 6 months ago. My husband was out of town for the majority of three (3) months. It resulted in added responsibilities to my plate, that in turn added to my stress and overall tiredness – neither of which engenders positive parenting. Multiple times a day, I found myself chanting, “Patience. Have Patience. Be Patient.” I did this the most in the evening when it seemed the “witching hour” turned my children into wall scaling hyenas, and turned me into Cruella Deville.
It worked, after a fashion. Immediately following the mental reminder for patience, I would react with my patience. I was less likely to act frustrated, but I still felt frustrated! At the end of the day, I couldn’t imagine any greater joy than bedtime and no children to interact with.
One day, reflecting on my feelings, I thought, “This is truly sad! I wanted my babies soo much; now I have them and I’m not enjoying them! Yes, I’m being patient, but it’s not making me feel better.”
Granted, we all feel frustrated with our kids from time to time. And I know for our family, we were all acting slightly out of the norm. The girls missed their Dad; I missed my husband. But if there was anything I could do to parent with more joy, I needed to find it! I wanted to rediscover the art of slowing down and enjoying the moments.
Parenting with Kindness
I knew that I needed to pinpoint my impatience triggers, and head them off at the pass, so to speak, in order to prevent them. Then one morning, I had an epiphany. I didn’t have to view my parenting gig as one act of patience followed by another. I needed to view it as one act of kindness, tenderness, and sympathy followed by another.
It sounds so simple, but it had a profound effect on me!
This eloquent Japanese proverb came to mind:
“One kind word can warm three winter months.”
My smile, my tender touch, my loving words, my relaxed demeanor could go a long way in making myself and my girls happier. To do that, I needed to make some mental readjustments.
How I Exercised Kindness
There were a couple tips I incorporated into my daily routine in order to parent with kindness.
Became More Realistic
I needed to realize that I was expecting too much from my children. Emotionally, they were experiencing an upheaval. This naturally affected their behavior. I needed to stop expecting things to move quickly, and in the way I wanted. Life wasn’t going to proceed in an efficient manner I expected. I needed to remember they’re still small. I needed to see things through their eyes.
Express More Empathy
By seeing things through their eyes, it was easier to acknowledge their feelings. I was able to carefully consider the kind way to communicate my wishes rather than playing the parent card too quickly. I also tried that much harder to be attentive to what they were saying through their body language, their tone of voice, and to stop reacting with irritation to their words.
Display More Affection
I made a concerted effort to slow down, to smile at their antics rather than frown. I became more aware of my daily words of affection and confirmation. And by expressing more love and kindness, I felt more love and kindness!
This is a completely subjective post! There is no right or wrong, just food for thought. Give it a try in your parenting methods and see if it makes a difference!
P.S. What Do You Think? Patience Or Kindness?