When Your Kids Complain About Everything And You Want To Just Give UP

When Your Kids Complain About Everything And You Want To Just Give Up

The drive home from school yesterday was not a joyride.

Lately, my husband Guy and I have been battling the issue of complaining and discontent in our home—I wish I could say it was just the kids, but I fight against it too. Personally, I have grown a lot in this area. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I was either. In general though, my sweet boys have gotten into the habit of letting us know in no uncertain terms that they are displeased if things don’t go their way. And it’s been like this for months…..

It happened again after school yesterday.

I picked up my oldest two and in less than five minutes, this conversation happened:

“Hey guys, we might have a little surprise for you later” I said, cheerfully.

“We are going to the skate park?!” they squealed.

“Oh, nooooo, we don’t have time for that today,” I said, “I was thinking more like going out to dinner someplace special.”

Cue the tears. Ugly ones.

Enter complaining spirits.

Pan a long range shot of mom pulling the car over to the side of the road in an inconvenient spot.

Close up of mom’s face as she turns around in her seat to look into boys’ concerned faces.

“Guys” I said gently and calmly. “I love you, but you are complaining, again. I never mentioned anything this week about the skate park and I was trying to do something nice for you today but it is such a bummer that instead of saying “okay mommy” and being glad for a treat, you are crying and complaining. It’s okay to be disappointed, but this kind of reaction is not Christ-like.”

I’m not a big fan of trying to teach in the moments of conflict but I wanted them to know, immediately, that though I understand their emotions, they needed to learn to handle them in a way that was honoring to both me, and God.

I left it at that, and entered back into traffic. Only a minute or so later, Oliver said, “Mom, I’m really sorry for my attitude. I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that. Will you forgive me? I was really more upset about something that happened at school this afternoon.”

Cue repentant tears, which sound a lot different than protesting ones.

“I’m sorry too, Mommy” Quinn lamented, “Will you forgive me?”

The rest of the short drive home consisted of me listening sympathetically to what was really beneath the surface of their emotions—and how Oliver handled a frustration with a friend at school so maturely and kindly, even though it still hurt him in the aftermath.

It turns out that we had a great afternoon and a wonderful dinner out—a rare treat as a family.

But here’s where I’m especially grateful for the after school scene today: I have been praying on a daily basis about complaining and the lack of contentment in our home. Guy and I have been going over Scripture with our boys to try and reach their hearts, but honestly, sometimes as a mom you wonder when the lesson will ever take root, you know? Its days like these that remind me that we need to persevere as long as it takes when there is a sin issue or a certain negative spirit in our homes. It pays off! It may not be in the timeframe we wish, but we must be patient, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of our children—and us!

When we plant good seed, it yields a good harvest.

Galatians 6:9 is the perfect reminder for moms and dads in the trenches: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

I affirmed the boys for their godly repentance and shared with their dad how much I appreciated their ability to turn it around so quickly and sincerely and I was purposeful to affirm them again at bedtime. It’s not easy to stop a wrong reaction in the heat of the moment, even for me!

Maybe you are battling a spiritual war in your home too. Perhaps your kids are entrenched in sibling rivalry or everyone is out for his own gain. Don’t let one day bleed into the next. Pray. Pray. And pray some more. Work through Bible verses together and patiently teach and train your kids in the way they should go. Don’t give up if they don’t seem to “get it.” Focus on doing the good parenting day in and day out and entrust the outcome to God in His timing as He matures the hearts of your children.

I wouldn’t choose an afternoon of conflict resolution over a pleasant ride, but there is value in these teachable life moments. And that makes my heart happy all the same.

I guess the ride home was a joyride after all.

YOUR TURN: Have you seen God working in the lives of your kids too? Or does it seem like you just aren’t getting through? Are you battling a certain issue in your home? I’d love to include your family in my prayers!

 

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Amber Lia

A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 4 little boys under the age of 10. She is the best-selling author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, say Something New. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights (www.motherofknights.com).