Love Never Quits

Persistence is a virtue, I am beginning to realize. That and patience. The two are unusual companions when rearing teens. Let’s start with patience. A wise person once told a story about learning to watercolor. During the first art session, the teacher brushed on the first layer, a wash of cobalt blue, then leaned back in his chair. Silence settled over the room. The moment lengthened. What a waste of time! What was he waiting for? The teacher just sat there, silently. Finally, he dipped his brush back into the cobalt and painted another layer. “The most common mistake by novice painters,” he said, “is that they are so anxious to get finished, they don’t take time to let one layer dry before adding another layer. Creating art requires patience and waiting.” I wondered if it were the same in raising children – a very special type of artistic endeavor. Could patience be a virtue? We have to be sure to wait, to give ourselves and our children time. And to not give up.

Persistence means being there for them. It is difficult when we are really frustrated. We cannot just give up on parenting when it is difficult. We need to find a way through. We need to try. A young mother was very exasperated by her child. He had been pushing all her buttons all day long. She told him, “you don’t even try to get along with me.” They lived on a street with mailboxes on posts out on the sidewalk. The mother one day found straw in the mailbox – someone had been playing tricks on her, perhaps her son, and had been putting twigs and straw in there. She brushed it away. The same thing happened the next day – he was really getting on her nerves now, playing tricks like that. She went out the next day and saw a bird leaving the box and inside were the twigs, straw and now a blue egg. It hadn’t been her son playing tricks after all. It was a very persistent bird, trying to build a nest. The young mother took her son out to see the nest. They left it alone and set up a cardboard box for the mail next to it. She sat down with her son in the house. “I am here to listen” she said to him. It was time for her to try. He poured out all his trials and tribulations and she listened. It seemed to be a new beginning for them. She needed to be persistent, but in a very different way than she had been.

Patience and persistence – strange bedfellows, but somehow essential to us as parents who care, who listen, and who make a difference to our children.

Stories borrowed from Sue Monk Kidd

Commentary by Margaret Murchan, LCSW


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