Years ago, a friend asked me if I ever let my kids punch pillows to vent their anger. My oldest children were in their mid-teens at the time and my answer was a quick and confident, “no.” I understood her question about purposeful pillow punching. Kids do get angry and want to unleash their fury. May as well give them a feathery place to do that. Who wants to repair holes in the wall? I get it.
But my unwillingness to grant pillow-punching privileges to my teens began when they were whining wee ones. I treated whining like the sin that it is.
Whining? A sin?
Yup. Just take a trip through Exodus and Numbers and you’ll be introduced to the children of Israel who spent years wandering in the wilderness because they were ungrateful, whiny babies. After being set free from the chains of Egypt, they constantly complained.
They hated the food. (Exodus 16)
They cried when they were thirsty (Exodus 17)
They murmured about the journey (Numbers 11)
They were afraid in spite of God’s promises (Numbers 13)
They grumbled against the men God ordained to lead them (Numbers 14)
This is just the type of stuff kids complain about, isn’t it?
“Mommy, I’m huuung-gree.”
“I’m so thirsty!”
“Are we there yet?”
“You’re not the boss of me!”
If we’re equally familiar with the scripture passages, it can motivate us to steer our kids away from their whining ways. I really do believe “Once a whiner, always a whiner.” Old habits die hard. Unchecked emotions are harder to rein in over time. The pillow puncher of today is the road rager of tomorrow. We have to discipline kids for murmuring.
And hey, it’s never too late. Sit down together as a family over the course of a few weeks and read about the children of Israel. Talk candidly about what it means to grumble against God, to be ungrateful for his blessings, to doubt his promises, and to murmur against those who lead us, including parents and teachers.
And by all means, own up to your own whining. I have had to do this, for sure! I have often referred to myself as Debbie Downer because I have battled negativity for as long as I can remember. All of us struggle in big and small ways:
It’s easier to complain about the weather than to be thankful for another day.
It’s easier to whine about going to work than to be grateful for employment.
It’s easier to find fault with the preacher and the president than to pray for them.
If we’re honest, we parents sabotage the No Whining Zone we want to create. Let’s grow up and nip our own whining in the bud.
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… Philippians 2.14-15