The Complain Drain
Spoken by my children in a whiny type of voice:
Mom…. I don’t wanna do my math.
Mom….Can you make her stop singing?
Mom….I don’t need a bath.
Mom…I don’t wanna zip my coat. It doesn’t look cool.
Mom….Do I really have to read all of these pages?
Mom…Are we having chicken again? I’m so tired of chicken. We have it every single day!
Mom…Why do I have to look up all these words? Can’t you just tell me some of the definitions?
Mom…Everyone else my age gets to stay up late. Why can’t I? Seriously, I’m too old to have a bedtime.
Ah! The penetrating sounds of whining and complaining! It’s amazing how such simple sounds from such small people can be so draining, can raise the stress level, can drive you crazy! Yet the truth is, I am guilty as well. I have been modeling a complaining attitude to my children.
Spoken by me in an irritated voice:
I am constantly doing laundry.
You children are always leaving your stuff all over the floor!
Oh… my stomach hurts.
Oh….my back hurts.
I’m so tired!
That dog is driving me crazy!
There’s not enough time in the day.
This computer is taking forever!
Can this printer print one thing without chewing it up?
So …. how to fight this difficult battle?
1.) Start with me: James 5:9 “Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged.” As much as I’d rather not admit it, in teaching my kids not to complain I have to start with myself. When I complain about situations going on in my life, I am modeling an unhappy attitude for my children — one they can easily imitate. It helps me to recognize what my triggers are. Following are some common areas of complaints for women in general and homeschoolers in particular:
- In-Laws, Relatives
- Appearance, Weight
- Personal Schedule
- Husband’s Schedule
- Lack of help
- Lack of sleep
- School district
- Homeschool Requirements
2.) Recognize a Complaining Attitude in Them: This may sound silly, but I can often let my children’s complaints go on for quite a while. If I take the time to register when a child is complaining, and remind them of God’s expectations and desire for them to shine, I can help disciple their hearts and attitudes, reminding them of how God wants to shape them. Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
3.) Battle Complaining with Thankfulness: God has given me so much to be thankful for! Each time I complain and each time my children complain, we are forgetting to be content with the abundance God has given us. As it is said so well in Veggie Tales, “A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart”. If I take the time to count my blessings, I am so humbled by all that He has given me. I need to remind my children to do the same. Colossians 3:15b – 16 “And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
4.) Battle Complaining with Praise: There are times when it is harder for me to find things I am thankful for. (I’ve noticed this tendency in my children as well!) During those times it is good for me to remember that though my circumstances may be bad, God is still Good. When I take the time to praise Him for all He is, I find it difficult to complain at the same time. Praising our Lord and King is a great way to fight the complain drain. Psalm 150:2 “Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.”
5.) Battle Complaining with Scripture: Our whole family has memorized this verse: Philippians 2:14-15 “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe …” When the complaints start and this verse is shared, I’ve found my children are quickly convicted. They have also graciously and enthusiastically shared this verse with me when I am grumbling!
6.) Battle Complaining with Consequences: It wasn’t until I had been a parent for many years before I realized that listening to an endless stream of complaints caused me to become irritable, grumpy, and ineffective in parenting. When the children of Israel complained, God often put a quick end to their grumblings. I’ve found that it is far better for me to send a complainer up to his or her room than to keep them nearby and allow my blood pressure to rise. Many times when a complaining child is still and quiet in his or her room and brings their struggles to God, they come back much happier and ready to communicate. Numbers 11:1 “Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused.”
7.) Battle Complaining with Prayer: To effectively communicate with our loved ones takes a lot of wisdom. To patiently endure the many complaints we hear throughout the day takes a lot of patience. God desires that we come to Him, and ask Him to be our guide in working with and loving our children. He also promises to take care of us and our children as we seek Him earnestly in prayer. Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Hebrews 11:6b “…anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Our family has certainly not arrived in this area of Christian living! All of the complaints listed by me and by my children are current and regular (see above). I am thankful to serve a God who is patient with me, refining me, and still working in me. Complaining is draining, but I serve a God whose grace overflows and refills my drained cup. Child of God, may His inner joy refill you this day as well!
Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Copyright February 20th, 2013 by Gwen Fredette
All Scripture taken from NIV (New International Version)