On a typical day in the average family, a parent hears approximately 127 complaints per hour.
“I’m hungry.” “I’m bored.” “I don’t want to eat that.”
“I want a puppy.” “I want an iPod.” “It’s not my turn to wash dishes.”
“Why doesn’t she have to help?” “When do I get a turn?”
“I want. I want. I want.”
“Wah. Wah. Wah.”
We wonder why our children are so prone to complain. Should we look in the mirror?
“Laundry again?” “I don’t feel like cooking dinner.” “Why didn’t you take out the trash?”
“I wish we could afford a bigger/newer/nicer house/car/whatever.” “I need a raise.”
“It’s time to pick the kids up from school already?” “I hate my boss/job/co-worker.”
As a society, we think complaining, especially under the guise of being funny, is acceptable. As a result, we are raising children to want more, work less, and expect someone else to give it to them. That’s a recipe for disaster because eventually there won’t be anyone left to use less, work more, and do it themselves. How does complaining affect us and the people around us?
Complaining fosters a negative attitude. One in which no one sees the silver lining for all the clouds they think block the sun. By overlooking what’s right, what’s wrong becomes insurmountable.
Complaining blames someone else or demands that someone else fix it. It doesn’t change the situation, and doesn’t provoke any action that will. It’s called spinning your wheels. You sling a lot of mud, but you don’t go anywhere.
Complaining minimizes life lessons that build maturity and faith. David didn’t become king by wishing his way to the throne. He worked as a shepherd. He wrestled a lion. He killed a giant. He fought for his country. He ran for his life, but refused to take revenge. He learned to lead under the most difficult of circumstances.
Complaining makes everyone else just as miserable. A rain cloud follows the complainer even on a sunny day.
If we want our children to mature into responsible adults able to raise their own families and live happy, successful lives, we need to learn to complain less so they can follow our example. That’s the recipe for a winning attitude.
When given the choice to voice your opinion or vent your frustration, don’t. If you can’t say anything positive, don’t say anything at all. It may be very quiet for a while until you can choke out a single sentence of encouragement or praise. But do it. It will get easier with practice.
Realize that everything isn’t perfect and accept situations and people for what they are. Take a deep breath, shrug your shoulders, and let it be. You might even break into a Doris Day rendition of Que Sera Sera.
If you’re discussing a problem or situation, are you part of the problem or part of the solution? Part of the problem involves complaining. Part of the solution means brainstorming fixes or improvements. Walk away if you can’t help.
What is your sore spot? Is there something that always triggers a negative response? Figure out what it is and avoid it like the plague. If it can’t be avoided, find one way to mitigate your response. Think of fluffy kittens or fields of daisies or pounding a car with a sledge hammer. Don’t act on that last one. Just think about it.
Embrace failure. Life can’t be 100% success. Thomas Edison figured out two thousand ways NOT to invent the light bulb before he succeeded. In fact, Mr. Edison didn’t even wail and moan when his factory burned in 1914. He simply told his son that the “rubbish was burned” and he could start over. By the way, he was 67 when that happened. If our children can see us embrace failure and hard circumstances and start over, their lives will be impacted beyond our wildest imagination. They won’t battle attitudes of defeatism and feelings of inadequacy. They will develop a winning attitude that will make them resilient in the face of life’s hard knocks.
If your children are young, they will model the behavior you exhibit. So, you have time to change your habit and raise them with a winning attitude. If your children are older, confess your faults and challenge them to change with you. Be accountability partners and encourage each other to be beacons of light instead of agents of gloom.