Working On It

I’m Too Impatient And It’s Making My Family Resent Me

“It sets off a chain reaction of negative emotions that affects everyone.”

by As Told To Matt Christensen
Originally Published: 
Ariela Basson/Fatherly; Getty Images, Shutterstock

My impatience has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. It's not just a passing feeling; it's an inclination that often affects how I interact with my kids and my partner. While it might not seem like a monumental issue compared to other struggles, its impact on my family's dynamics has been palpable.

Impatience really shapes how I respond to situations. For example, when my kids take their time to do something, instead of patiently guiding them, I find myself getting frustrated and sometimes raising my voice. It's like this internal pressure cooker that leads me to lash out. With my partner, impatience shows up as a lack of attentiveness. I'll interrupt, finish sentences, or assume what they're saying, which comes across as dismissive and hurtful. The atmosphere at home becomes tense, as my impatience triggers emotional reactions from my family. My kids sometimes withdraw, feeling like they can't please me, while my partner gets visibly upset, leading to arguments. It's a domino effect. My impatience sets off a chain reaction of negative emotions that affects everyone.

“Working On It” is a regular series about self-improvement. In each installment, a dad talks to us about a bad habit he has, how it affects him and his family, and what he’s doing to work on it. Here, Tolu, a 40-year-old father of two talks about how his impatience makes life harder for everyone and what he’s doing to foster a calmer, less rushed atmosphere at home.

Looking back, I think this desire for things to go smoothly stems from a mix of upbringing and personal tendencies. My parents weren't particularly impatient, but they did emphasize the importance of structure and routine. Any disruptions were met with a degree of frustration, and I guess that mindset rubbed off on me.

My impatience sets off a chain reaction of negative emotions that affects everyone.

I started to think that things should follow a set path, and when they didn't, it felt like I was losing control. As an adult, and especially as a parent and husband, this desire to provide the best for my family kicks in. I want their lives to be comfortable, and when things deviate from that vision, it triggers my impatience. It's like a fear that if I can't keep everything under control, I'm somehow failing them.

The moment I recognized that my impatience was a genuine issue was quite significant for me. It wasn't a single incident or something someone said, but more of a cumulative realization. There was a morning when I had lost my patience — yet again — while getting everyone ready, and I saw the hurt in my partner's eyes. It was a wake-up call, and the first time I realized the true impact of my impatience on my loved ones. Coincidentally, around that time, I stumbled upon an article about mindful parenting. It was like a sign. Reading about the effects of impatience on children and relationships hit home. I was looking in the mirror, and I couldn't ignore it anymore. I knew I had to address this pattern for the sake of my family's well-being. It requires awareness and a conscious effort to stay in control.

As a father on this journey, I've come to understand that facing our personal challenges head-on takes courage. My ongoing effort to manage impatience might not be as weighty as some issues, but it's unique to my family. And I believe I’ve made progress. For instance, during a recent family game night, I consciously chose to remain patient and let my kids take their time explaining the rules. In the past, I'd rush through it, spoiling the fun, and causing frustration. This time, though, the atmosphere was relaxed, and we all enjoyed the game together. Similarly, on a busy morning, I took a deep breath before responding when my partner asked for help, and the difference was significant. There was no tension, just a sense of cooperation.

Flexibility is key. It's a journey to rewire those thought patterns and let go of the need for everything to be perfect.

In my ideal environment which, I suppose, is what I’m working toward, there's a sense of harmony and mutual respect. We all communicate openly and empathetically, understanding that everyone's feelings and opinions are valid. My impatience doesn't dominate our interactions. Instead, we navigate challenges together, finding solutions without unnecessary tension.

I'm learning that life is unpredictable. Flexibility is key. It's a journey to rewire those thought patterns and let go of the need for everything to be perfect. Because in the end, true connection with my family is more important than any plan or schedule. It's not easy, but my mind is focused on creating a healthier family dynamic where everyone feels valued and heard, rather than rushed and dismissed. I’ve seen how acknowledging and challenging my own impatience can allow my relationships to flourish. I'm committed to building upon this progress and creating a healthier, happier environment for my family.”

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