It’s time to end the complaining, and this applies to parents as well as the kids. Certainly, there will be times when life disappointments grieve us to the point that we have to get our feelings off our chest. In such a case, it’s understandable to vent to someone, as long as our perspective is reasonable and it doesn’t constitute gossip. However, if you “vent” twice, then you are probably complaining. If you are a parent, don’t tolerate it with your children, and don’t participate either.
Kids develop a complaining problem because, a) they are permitted to complain, and b) they hear adults do it endlessly. On that note, understand that being a parent does not make complaining about your children excusable or healthy. To motivate us to end the complaining, I’ve offered four reasons worth pondering:
1. Complaining is living in the negative. If we intend to cultivate a pleasant home environment, it will require deliberate action. Self-regulation, self-control, and perspective are absolutely necessary. Let’s teach our children that words have consequences, and that includes tone not just the words themselves. Cultivating a pleasant home to live in requires every member of the family to learn how to handle disappointments – complaining is not a helpful option. Scripture couldn’t be clearer on this issue, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” (Phil. 2:14). In other words, problems may need to be addressed, but without complaining.
2. Complaining is harmful to relationships. It’s true that misery loves company, but who wants to be around misery all the time? Children need to learn that complaining people do not win friends. Instead, they spread negative attitudes and eventually alienate themselves from people who seek healthy relationships. There is a point where a person complains enough that they are labeled a complainer, and at that point, others only want their company when they are in a complaintive mood as well. Rather than alienating people who could be a positive influence, become the type of person who “ministers grace” with words (Eph. 4:29).
3. Complaining is a distraction from a solution. Problems are resolved when a solution is formed, not when the focus stays on the problem. There may be times when problems need to be worked out in conversation with an appropriate person, but the conversation should be driven by a plan to improve rather than counter-productive complaining. This will require parents to teach children what to do instead of complaining. For instance, help kids put a plan into action to resolve conflicts with friends, rather than listen to endless complaining. Instead of allowing grumbling about how difficult school is, talk to the teacher about a plan of action for improving and help your children focus on the game plan.
4. Complaining is failure to submit to God’s will. Not all life situations meet God’s approval; nevertheless, God allows them to happen. It may be God’s desire to permit your undesirable circumstances to provide you with an opportunity for growth. We grow spiritually and emotionally after enduring an undesirable situation, attacking the problem, and overcoming it. Never is it God’s will for us to harbor the self-destructive attitude that manifests itself in complaining.
Children will need help learning this critical life lesson – complaining assumes the role of a helpless victim and thwarts opportunities to resolve the problem. It’s in a child’s nature to complain about a problem in hopes that an adult will fix it. Sadly, it works at times because the adult only wants to stop the complaining. However, reinforcing this type of behavior fails to teach children how life in the real world works. Neither does it teach them how to live a happy life. Ending the complaining will create a much more positive atmosphere in your home, and it will greatly help your children develop happier dispositions.