The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Psalm 145:8).

I’d heard these words countless times at church, but they didn’t sink in until my child was 6 and needed help focusing. Our pediatrician recommended we try a prescription vitamin that only comes in the form of a pill.

I don’t remember struggling to swallow a pill the way our child did. My husband had empathy because he remembered his mom mixing applesauce and medicines together for him. He was out of ideas when applesauce didn’t get the job done.

When I called the pediatrician, she recommended disguising the pill in something sweet. We were hoping for a liquid to swallow, a patch, a mist—something. We even tried olives (our kids love them), which paired better with the pill’s fishy flavor when broken open. That worked for a day.

We finally gave in and mixed it with ice cream—God forgive us. (That’s certainly not what our pediatrician had in mind when she suggested something sweet.) We started serving our already energetic kid pill-flavored ice cream at breakfast and after dinner—it worked half the time.

What was even worse was how disagreeable my husband and I got about wasting these expensive pills. We were ridiculous. Here we were losing our tempers and having to leave the room so the other parent could take over the role of pill-taker guide. Not our proudest parenting moment.

As parents we pray for all kinds of things for our kids, but we often forget to pray just as regularly for ourselves and our spouses who need things like God’s patience just to raise children.

A month later we took out the pills again. At this point my husband was determined we just go back to water. Would you believe that this was when our child finally got into a rhythm of successfully swallowing the pill—with water?

Jesus’ turning water into wine can barely compete in my book!

My husband and I weren’t seeking sainthood by staying calm and patiently loving throughout this saga. In all practicality we were just trying to get our child to swallow a pill. As it turns out, God’s mercy was there for us in our parenting, teaching us about patience every step of the way.


Have your little one practice swallowing grapes (or another fruit/veggie) cut up into tiny pieces, so any frustration that comes isn’t associated to wasted pills.

Remember to affirm your child and only be frustrated with inaction of the pill-swallowing so they know their worth isn’t tied to their ability to take a pill.

Try not to take any of this too seriously, even though the need for the pill is serious.

Janelle Rozek Hooper
Janelle Rozek Hooper is the ELCA program manager for Ministry with Children and the author of Heaven on Earth: Studies in Matthew (Augsburg Fortress, 2010). Learn more about her at

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