Does your family have a whiner?
One of my children, who is 5 years old, has managed to bring whining to an art form. We could wander into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory that happens to have a Wii, a Chuck E. Cheese, his friends, and his grandparents inside, but my son would have no problem finding something that was not quite up to his expectations.
Another mom asked me recently if we had a whining and ingratitude issue in our family like she does in hers. Uh, definitely. But to tell the truth, my second-born isn’t the only one in our family who has a problem with ungratefulness and complaining. Unfortunately, I have to wonder how much of it he’s caught from his mother. It’s not something you’d see unless maybe you lived with me. This is more of an x-ray issue. You’d see my problem if you saw my heart.
Recently I read a book titled, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. A mother of six, Ann found herself transformed by a challenge to list 1,000 things for which she’s thankful. So I pulled out a spiral notebook and got started writing my own list.
Here’s what I didn’t anticipate: Combing the day for things I’m thankful for is replacing my old way of seeing the world. It turns my eyes from all the things that aren’t going my way – or even from the discouragement of legitimate problems – and onto the gifts God keeps piling up, just dumping them in stacks and stacks into my life. In essence, it helps me choose joy.
Refusing to complain is a good discipline for my mouth. But to transform my heart, God actually replaced my complaining by helping me see His goodness and worship Him for it.
As I thought about cultivating the ground for the gratitude God wants to grow in my kids’ hearts, I was grateful for some of Ann’s suggestions. As part of your daily routine, she suggests, cover a window one sticky note at a time with things for which your kids are thankful. We covered a huge picture in the kitchen; the non-writers got help or drew pictures.
Another of Ann’s suggestions was to help children start thankfulness journals of their own. We started one at the beginning of the new school year. I have talked my 7-year-old down from his initial well-intentioned goal of 1 billion items, and he is now going for 100 items for which he’s grateful.
On that note, here are a few other ideas to help replace whining with thankfulness.
Your turn. Please help those of us caught in the drama of whining! What practical tips do you have to stomp out whining and cultivate contentment? Leave your suggestions in the comment section below.
Copyright © 2011 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared in MomLife Today®, FamilyLife's blog for moms.
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