BY BARBARA RAINEY
Do all things without grumbling or disputing. PHILIPPIANS 2:14
One thing we disciplined our children for was complaining. I’m not saying we did it perfectly. It seems there’s a genetic disposition in our family to gripe and display an ungrateful attitude over just about anything. It is our job as parents to make sure these discontented tyrants, who masquerade as our children, aren’t allowed to demand that things always go their way. Even at the dinner table. I can remember when our kids would whine about what had been set before them. Dennis and I would say, “I know you don’t like it, but I expect you to eat one bite. After that, you don’t have to eat any more, but you can’t go scavenging in the kitchen for something else.” (I assure you, it won’t hurt an average child to skip a meal and be a little hungry the next morning.)
Sometimes, we’d save the untouched plate in the fridge and serve it again later. They weren’t allowed to eat anything else until they’d disposed of what they’d earlier refused. And we wouldn’t let them have dessert unless they’d finished their dinner serving. We had a large family, and Dennis used to say to them, “Your mom is not a short-order cook for six demanding customers.” Part of teaching our six kids respect and gratitude was giving them the opportunity to eat what I had worked hard to prepare. After all, children are growing up in a world that comes with limitations. They won’t always be able to “have it their way.” As parents, we do them no favors by letting them be the center of their universe when God has tasked us with the responsibility of training them to become His servants. A missed meal might just teach them to appreciate what is set before them. But developing a spirit of complaining will cost them dearly their whole lives.
How much complaining do you do? Your children? Discuss how you will address this issue the next time it rears its ugly head.
Ask the Lord to help you and your children model true gratefulness and contentment.