Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Parenting: The Value of Persistence

You can’t beat an adorable baby clip, but this one has important things to teach.

Couldn’t you go on watching these two cuties? What is so fascinating about this clip is not so much what these sisters do, but what they don’t do. They don’t cry, they don’t call for mom, they don’t give up. Instead, they persist.

The ability to persist is thought to be a temperament trait from birth. Persistence is an important part of personality. People who persist are more likely to learn, more likely to solve problems, and more likely to be successful in life.

While some children may be naturally more persistent, all of us can learn persistence.

How do you handle difficult problems? Do your children see you trying different solutions and contemplating the situation? It is good for you to share this process with them. For instance, you can talk about a problem you are working on, or a skill you are trying to develop, and let them see, and hear, about your struggles and successes.
How do you handle things when your children are frustrated? If you swoop in and rescue, you are teaching your children that they are not capable. If you over-comfort, or allow them to give in too soon, you may be teaching them that struggle is to be avoided.

Struggle is how we learn. 
Persistence is how we make progress. 
Solving problems makes us smart. 

In fact, persistence is so important that researchers recommend that parents look for ways to praise effort, struggle, and persistence instead of performance.

The parable of the persistent widow is a great Bible story for when your child struggles. The most important lesson on persistence is to be persistent in prayer and trust.

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”  And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. (Luke 18: 1-8a, ESV)

And just a few verses beyond this story is this beautiful promise:

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." (Luke 18: 15-17, ESV) 

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