Delaying gratification does not mean "No"
By Teresa A. LeNeave
We're born with a lot of traits, but I'm not sure one of them is patience. We want what we want, and we want it when we want it. At least that's true in American culture. Lack of patience can be very destructive to a home, to a business, to an organization and even to the government. Lack of patience causes a lot of pain for a lot of people. It will smother you in debt. It will cause fights and even result in murder. It will tear away at the structure of a family until it ends in divorce and little kids pay the price. It will cause heart attacks because of undue stress. Lack of patience is costly.
From the little one-year-old who rears back, screams and cries for their way; to the great American government whose lack of patience caused a debt that threatens the future of every person who will live in America for many generations to come, we see a problem when we're not willing to wait. We don't want to suffer. We want it now.
Most of us are not patient by nature, but if we can develop patience - and teach it to our children - we can be way ahead of the game of life. To me, patience doesn't mean waiting around for something to drop in your lap, but as much as anything, it's delaying gratification.
You've often heard, "we live in a microwave world", and it's true. We can't even wait for the last 3 seconds to click off on the microwave when warming something up. From what I read in the Bible, lack of patience has always been a problem. In Luke 15 we have an example of a young guy who got tired of waiting for his dad to die so he said, "Give me my inheritance early." You know the story. The father gave him his inheritance and the boy wasted it all on riotous living. Eventually, he ended up broke, hungry, and lonely in a pig pen. When he found himself starving to death he "came to his senses" and decided it was time to go back home where he would gladly live a life of patience.
Teaching our children to wait (to delay gratification), may be one of the greatest gifts we can give them. Kids learn to "expect" handouts from us, the parents. Either, we teach our children to work, be independent, do their part (as a part of the family structure), or we hand them everything without them doing anything to earn it. Handing kids everything they want just to avoid confrontation will develop a character trait we'll live to regret. We don't live in a Santa Claus world and kids must learn that as they grow to adulthood. Children must learn to be grateful while delaying gratification because as adults, they will find that's one character trait that will bring a lot of blessings to their life.
Delaying does not mean no. It simply means, "Set a goal and work toward it." Don't expect it instantly. You will get it, but just not "now". Teach children to stick with it; to be faithful and dependable. Being patient is one of the hardest things we have to learn to do. By saying "wait" ... not only to our children, but to our own self, we will find we have a tremendous reduction in stress. I Corinthians 13:4 says, "love is patient". If we want to teach our children to love than I guess we must also teach them patience.