Picture yourself heading out to your favorite fishing hole. You’ve kept your spot a secret from everyone, but now it is time to bring your next generation in. You quietly sneak through the brush to the water’s edge and set your cooler and two chairs down in the small clearing. It’s their first time out, so you cast for them: vrizz, plop. Then you cast out yourself: vrizz, plop. Okay everyone is ready. You’re just about to sit yourself down in your chair to enjoy the quiet of the lake. “Dad, can you cast me out again?”
“You have a bobber kiddo, you have to be patient and leave it out there for the fish to find it.” Vrizz, plop. You step back to your chair to relax.
“Dad, can you cast me out again?” Repeat for the next hour until the sun has risen. When we think about teaching our children patience, sometimes it is easy to forget that before we can teach something, we need to be fluent in it ourselves. Patience is no exception. It’s hard to find and easy to lose when we are dealing with the same test over and over.
So how does one jump from being the father who can’t keep his cool, to the dad who is still smiling after losing his catches on every fishing trip because he is casting someone else’s line out again and again? Patience. A father’s patience is limited. A dad has an unlimited supply.
So how do we get there? How do we go from the patience of a father to the patience of a dad. The first thing is love. Let’s keep using the fishing example. Do you need to bring two poles? Does it need to be quiet? Should the cooler sit between you and your youngsters chairs? Hmm, good questions.
If you bring one pole then you can share the experience, you can teach them how patient you are by your example. Modeling good behavior is how to teach a child your expectations. Because you’d be a hypocrite if you expected your children to have more patience than you do. A child can smell a hypocrite better than a trained bloodhound.
You might think, “I was modelling good behavior, I was trying to fish!” However, what behavior were you actually modelling? What did they learn from you? If I reel my line back in, dad will come over to help me. But this is their first time out, this is when you teach. You probably don’t even need to fish yourself for them to enjoy it.
See the the father in this example was focusing on his own goal of landing a big bass (or your fish of choice). His own goal nonetheless. That’s what made the difference. A dad would focus on the goals of his little one. Think about that for a moment. If your child catches nothing and you catch something, they may not want to go next time.
Reverse that though, put a real dad in the picture. What is his goal? He wants to teach them the value of patience and the exhilaration of catching a fish. Joy through patience. Isn’t that the real lesson we want to teach them. Patience brings the reward.
A father is annoyed by patience. A dad enjoys patience.
When we want to teach our children patience, they have to see us not only exercise it, but also value it. It is after all instilling values into your children that will help you make the leap to dadhood. We don’t want to just teach them patience, we want to teach them the value of patience.
If we’re out fishing then we already know how to catch fish, but that little wide-eyed person next to us doesn’t. Maybe we should take some time to talk to them about it. It doesn’t matter if they’re too little to handle a rig or not. Move that cooler out of the way put their chair right beside you. Talk to them. Talk them through your methods. Share with them. Tell them your stories. Leave your line in the water. If you show them how you are patient, they they’ll learn to be patient themselves.
The best fishing trips aren’t always the ones that come back with the biggest fish, and the best lessons are the ones that your child doesn’t even know they are learning. Patience is taught by being patient.
Because any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.