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The Power of Patience

Posted 22/07/2016 - By Harley Farmer

“I want it now!” is a favourite demand of children.

My parents raised me as one of five boys teaching us there was always a choice:

  • If you want it that badly you can earn it.
  • If you don’t want to earn it you don’t want it that badly, do you?

That was fine in outback Australia fifty years ago as we didn’t know what was available to the rest of the world.

What do parents do now in this time of instant gratification? The internet gives their children access to innumerable choices and the rate of change is likely to increase.

Change becomes dangerous in the absence of stability. One choice as adults and parents is to throw our hands up in horror saying it’s all beyond our control. Another is to utilise things that have not changed.

Last winter one of my posts featured Olivia, the little girl next door who enjoyed sharing our strawberries each summer. She was born into a time of massive change and instant gratification which made it wise to introduce some balance. I checked with here parents that Olivia was old enough to understand the concept of responsibility. We decided she was so I allocated her a strip of strawberry plants in my garden which she would have to plant herself. The post showed her doing that, albeit with my close guidance. The intention was to teach her the power of patience.

Olivia Patience

Six months later and I’m reminded that a picture paints a thousand words. Here is Olivia with one of her strawberries! That is one very happy little girl. Her parents had bought many strawberries from the shops yet you can see how she values this one. It took 6 months of patience and she now has the memory of that strawberry being very special; something she waited so long to enjoy.

The shop strawberries provided instant gratification; this one provided something far more valuable — a treasured memory.

The rest of her life will be spent at a hectic pace not imagined when I was that young. However the delight she enjoyed with her first “self-grown” strawberry is the same as the delight I remember from a similar situation half a century earlier.

Humans have not changed in that time. “Earning” a huge sweet juicy strawberry may end up meaning more to Olivia than many other aspects of her fast moving life. Only time can tell. What I can say for sure is that children who’ve been raised on the other side of our garden fence have all had a chance to learn the power of patience.

A six month wait is far from instant gratification. Was it worth it? Olivia’s face provides the answer.  Yes, it most definitely was.