My daughter groaned. “This is taking forever,” she said. We were in the car on our way to her school and road work had things down to one lane of traffic. A flagman was telling drivers when they could go, and we were waiting for permission. “It shouldn’t be much longer,” I offered. I will admit I too was starting to get antsy. I was also hoping that weird noise my car was making is not a sign of bigger troubles, but I digress. I was trying to keep things calm. My five-year-old daughter attends a Christian school, and like many kids in such settings, they are learning Bible verses. I told her about Luke 21:19 and asked her to repeat it with me.
‘In your patience possess ye your souls.’ Luke 21:19 (KJV)
“What does that mean?” she asked. “It means that if you remain patient, you won’t be ugly,” I explained. Sure, I wanted to honk my horn and yell. I also had the option of saying nothing and ignoring my daughter’s impatience. Neither approach would have improved our situation, so I attempted to make things better. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to train up our children the way they should be, and when they are older, they will not depart from that training.
In his book 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, author Jay Payleitner offers a similar idea while waiting with your kids at a train crossing. Payleitner suggests readers count the train cars and make a game out of it for you and the kids. In doing so, you create a fun situation that helps pass the time, check on your kid’s math skills and leave you with a number to compare things to the next time you have to stop for a train. Meanwhile, the human side of you does not triumph by making you yell, ‘WHEN IS THIS GOING TO BE OVER? I HAVE THINGS TO DO!?!’
Kids learn things, and we lead by example. If I am being impatient, my children will be impatient. If I am ugly and yell things at others, they will think that behavior is acceptable. I have mentioned this in previous posts, but the mission statement of One Million Dads is Lead or Others Will. Sometimes, the ‘others’ may not act nice. So, when traffic delays and other unfortunate situations come about, how will you respond? Will you lash out? Or, will you lead?