Extreme Patience Required (EPR)

I have a son, who will remain unnamed in case he reads this someday, who likes to take his time…all the time. He has little sense of urgency. This becomes a source of frustration for each family member when we are rushing to an event or have to honor a commitment and are pressed for time. 
Whether it’s eating, dressing up, homeschooling, or finishing responsibilities, his tendency is to delay, be distracted, and lose focus. Over the years, Edric and I have disciplined and trained him to be otherwise but it continues to be a challenge. Edric even got him a watch so he could use it to track his time but he lost it! 

Extreme patience is often required of us as we teach and train our son. Furthermore, we have to carefully consider the positive side of his personality type. Because he is such a chill person and so easy going, he isn’t a reactive, easily angered person. He doesn’t make demands on others, harbor bitterness, and his default disposition is joyfulness. So Edric and I have to manage the tension between training him and encouraging his God-given uniqueness. 

These past few days we have been in Dubai. Edric and I are here for a series of talks and business activities and we took the kids with us. Almost every meal, our son who likes to take his time is the last to finish. Before we head out the door, he is putting a shoe on, using the toilet, looking for a jacket, or in the middle of something he should have completed thirty minutes earlier. 

During one of these occasions when everyone was out the door and he hobbled out of it with one shoe on and a sock and a shoe in his hand, I asked him what he was doing for the last hour and his reply was, “Umm…I was swiveling around in the chair of the room.” 

Seriously, he can do absolutely nothing for stretches of time and find this deeply gratifying. He’s a stop-to-smell-the-roses kind of person…”stopping” being the key word. 

Like I said, this personality type comes with its strengths. However, Edric and I move about so quickly that it’s tiring to wait for this son of ours to mobilize. This trip has magnified his character flaw, so it has been a real lesson in patience for both of us. 

I nearly failed as a parent when this son lost a piece of his expanders (it’s like a retainer for the mouth to open up the jaw). The accident happened after he forgot to be ready at the hour we agreed upon and Edric and I had to get to the venue of a seminar we were speaking at. Edric couldn’t be delayed so he went ahead to set up his laptop while I tried to hurry our son along.

Unfortunately, a very important piece of his expanders flew out of its container and landed on a tiled floor that had patterns which completely camouflaged the piece. So I nearly cried in aggravation as this accident required me to get down on my hands and knees while in my heels to comb through each surface area of the tiled floor to feel for the piece. 

This is ridiculous!, I thought to myself. Why does __________________ do these things?! Ahhhh!!!! 

Meanwhile my son showed no distress whatsoever which kind of irked me! I reminded him, “You can’t do this…make everyone wait for you. It’s inconsiderate. It’s something you have to change and improve on, okay?”

I am glad the annoyance came out of me in that way rather than shouting at him like I felt compelled to do. My patience had reached its limit and it took the grace of God to contain my irritation! Thankfully, I was about to do a ministry activity with Edric which kept me mindful of my responses. But if I hadn’t been in prayer that day, or spent a good chunk of it preparing for my talk and being in the Word of God, I am sure my emotions would have taken over in a very ugly manner. 

We didn’t find the piece after about ten minutes of searching which was all I could spare before my seminar. So the kids and I left the hotel room and hung a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door knob so we could resume our search later on in the evening. At the end of our day, our son did his best to find the piece and recover it which was good news. (These expanders are pricey!) 

Edric and I have considered how to help him after our speaking engagement. I believe the root problem for him is discipline. He has to train his mind to plan wisely and resist the impulses he feels to move on to something else when there is a task at hand. He also needs to discipline his body so that it follows the dictates of his mind. 

Here are some solutions that Edric and I intend to apply:

1. Don’t stop training him until he develops a sense of urgency, proactive-ness, and responsibility. As tiring as it may be to keep telling him the same thing over and over again, the burden is on us to do so until he internalizes and applies these things on his own. 

2. Stay beside him when he homeschools and eats his meals so we can monitor him. Yesterday evening, I sat beside him and he downed his soup and pasta in a fraction of the time it usually takes him. This is because I got to remind him constantly and reach over to rub his back every time he got distracted. 

3. Commend him when he puts effort into quickening his pace. Because he gets corrected a lot, we don’t want him to grow up with insecurities or feel like he is compared to his siblings who don’t have the same issue. So we have to balance out our training with affirmation, too. This also means communicating to him that he is unconditionally loved and accepted, too. 

4. Correct him in private. His siblings tend to feel the same annoyance that we do towards his mannerisms and personality, so it’s unhealthy for them to hear us correct him in front of them. This will only fuel their aggravation. 

5. Edric intends to spend more focused time with him. After all, he’s a boy and there’s nothing like the attention and mentoring of a father to a son. 

6. Extend grace. This son of ours makes mistakes quite often and as tempting as it is to lose our tempers with him, we absolutely cannot as it will destroy the seeds of faith that have been planted in his heart. Our greater desire for him is that he loves and obeys the Lord. If we do not respond to him in ways that are spirit-filled, and if we do not ask for forgiveness when we fail in this area, we will push him farther away from us and this goal. 

7. Thank the Lord for Him. His personality is a blessing and his life is a beautiful gift. Does he need to keep improving in certain areas? Of course. But it doesn’t make him less special or important to us or the Lord. So we need to thank the Lord for being intentional about giving us a son with his unique traits.

8. Pray. Edric and I need to remember that we can’t control our kids. We may be able to train them and discipline them, but their hearts are another matter. This is God’s department. He is the one who causes real transformation of the heart so that the behavior follows. Prayer acknowledges our dependence on Him to make this happen. 

I don’t know if this son of ours sounds like one of your kids. But if he does, be encouraged. Faithful discipleship always produces fruit. 

“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Hebrews‬ ‭12:11‬ ‭


29 thoughts on “Extreme Patience Required (EPR)

  1. I had the same character before getting pregnant. My siblings used a joke on me that I’d never get married (a pamahiin from my mom.) I used to eat really slow and if I didn’t feel like going to a place, I’d drag my feet.
    What moved me to really change (besides knowing Jesus) was a situation where I only had 10-20 minutes to eat before breastfeeding (since we didn’t have help at the time, I really had to be quick about it.)
    Is he competitive? Maybe you can try games w positive reinforcement like extra play time.
    For example: If he can get ready by a certain time, he can have more time to watch his favorite show.

    What works w another friend of mine is his family waits for him in the car, wc makes for shorter times to get dressed.
    I also used to fix everything the night before and/or place my shoes in the car the night before and would put them on in the car if I was in a hurry. So all I had to do was get out the door.

    Bullet journaling and lots of prayer helped, too. I forget less and feel more accomplished at the end of the day when i check out tasks even menial ones. I really had to ask God to help me w my attitude. I pray esp for clearing of the mind. I always used to have cloudy thoughts but daily prayer made me sharper. I try not to get too much sleep or too little, or get too tired before bed bec too much sleep makes me slow.
    I also used to be able to laze around all day without doing anything but knowing Jesus helped me cope with this. When I had more responsibility as in raising children, home making and working, I didn’t have time to day dream.. Your kid can be responsible for opening the car for everyone for example so he has to be ready before you enter the car.

    I hope you’re able to read this and I do hope it helps.

  2. This post is very timely. I thank God for you for writing it! I am in a similar dilemma with my kid. It has been a struggle to balance home, an infant and a preschooler let alone have a kid who like what you said, likes to take her time. She is slow in eating, showering, easily distracted and enticed to play. I struggle with patience and my temper too. I’m constantly knocking at God for grace to be gentle despite what I am feeling when schedule is not met. I dont know what to do and how to handle the discipline without being too harsh or too lenient. Thank God for your post. I will try the solutions you recommended. Looking forward to God’s grace to win in this area of parenting. All the best!

    1. You are welcome, Jessica. You are so right about needing God’s grace in order to win in this area! This is so true.

  3. I like this nameless son, I can imagine he’s the one in-front of the attached picture.. is this the same son who likes to pick up lizards and play on his hands? Haha.. I like him, he likes to take time like my eldest son who is un-affected although his very intelligent he can remember things easily! I laughed when he replied, “Umm…I was swiveling around in the chair of the room.” Wow so honest answer.. it’s very rare nowadays. Nowadays you can find even small kids able to utter lies or pretend/hide their true feelings!! I bet when he grows up he will be a compassionate, friendly, no prentitious, man.

    Meanwhile, I feel HORNY when you got down on your hands and knees while on heels!!! Hahaha..

  4. Thank you for sharing, Ms. Joy! Thank you for reminding there’s always room for EPR. God bless you and your family always…

  5. I have a son who is kind of like that, when you need to remind him to get another bite of his meal, sometimes he doesnt seem to hear you until you call his attention a number of times. But his good side is that he ihas a compassionate personality, he would give first and he is sensitive to the another persons feeling. He is now 8. With my 3 kids each one has a personality that you see even at a very young age, even when they are growing up together each one is unique and it amazes me how God made us. Thank you Joy for shariing this.

  6. Thank you for sharing this Joy. Our firstborn is the same with disobedience issues and tantrums that admittedly, my husband and I have lost our patience many times. We have not responded in the right way. Sometimes after a difficult day with her, i would think how can we change our scenario at the house because her constant cries even at the smallest things can be stressful when I am also taking care of her 1 year old sibling. This post gives me hope. Will share with my husband and pray harder. Thank you!

    1. I am glad this encourages you, Ashley. Spending time with your eldest child will probably help, too. It will make her more responsive to you both.

      1. Thank you maybe my plan to homeschool her will be an opportunity. I’m still praying though 😛 The need for patience is always mentioned in the forum for homeschooling which I’m not certain I can really give. God willing, we can try this year before she enrolls next year.

        1. You can always try homeschooling for a year and then taking it from there. Struggling with patience is normal. 😊

  7. This article is “shouting” to me. I have been battling the same thing with my kid every single day..this no “sense of urgency” attitude is killing me. I tried to be patient, write timetables and tick it off..to no progress. I will pray nalang..

  8. This is probably Elijah cuz he’s the one who wears a retainer. And my gulay Elijah needs braces so bad! Sorry! Please forgive my name-dropping!

  9. A very timely reminder and encouragement…Indeed, God speaks in so many ways…He just did through this…thank you for sharing…

  10. Hmmm, here’s another possible perspective. I read years ago a book by John Ortberg called “The Life You’ve Always Wanted.” It’s about spiritual disciplines and one of his chapters is “An Unhurried Life: The Practice of ‘Slowing’.” When the author had asked one of his spiritual mentors what he needed to do to stay spiritually healthy, his mentor said “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” He goes on to talk about how “hurry sickness” is unhealthy. He recommends entering a life of training to learn to slow down. One quote is “We must find ways to deliberately choose waiting, ways that make hurry impossible. As we practice them, we should tell God we are trusting him to enable us to accomplish all we need to get done.” Maybe God has also given you this son to help to train YOU as you train him? 🙂 Just throwing out the idea for your consideration 🙂

    1. Most definitely! Ha ha ha. God is using him to train me! That’s one of the reasons why I am glad he is in our family 🙂

  11. Just prayed for someone to help me deal with my son and your article came along at the right time! My eldest fits perfectly your description but what really pushes my button is his constant whining. I tried all forms of discipline (timeouts, withholding privileges) but it seems as if he just wanted to TAKE HIS TIME and be constantly distracted by a lot of things…this has been a struggle especially he has 2 brothers I need to attend to..thanks joy and hopefully you can send more feedback on how your strategies have worked on him 😊

  12. This is such a wonderful article. It’s so great to read a parenting article that is grounded on faith and His guidance. May God continue to bless and guide you & Edric! 🙂

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