Whining seems to come up a lot at our house. I’ve blogged before about whining. We’ve dealt with it before. We still deal with it, as it seems to come and go in cycles. We’ve talked about unbelief (e.g., the children of Israel murmuring in the wilderness), and attempted to get them to replace the murmuring with thankfulness (Be careful for nothing, but in everything…). It’s not something we ignore, although we are far from being perfectly consistent. Sometimes the whining doesn’t even hit my radar, like today when I handed Laurel a cup of milk that she whined for. I realized it after the milk was gone.
As an aside, one thing I haven’t done is address the problem of whining as unbelief in the context of salvation. Whining is a symptom of the larger problem of unbelief for salvation. I need to think about that some more, because whining might be a good context to talk about salvation with our children.
However, we’ve been noticing something interesting. Often the whining is a statement that should be a request. When we have our children change their statements to questions, their attitude changes.
Read the following in your best whiny voice (go ahead and do it out loud):
- He hit me!
- I wanted that cup!
- I’m playing the piano now!
- I just cleaned the kitchen!
Notice that all of these represent legitimate concerns. Try saying them as a request, nicely.
- Please don’t tease me now.
- May I have that cup next time?
- Will you wait until I’m done playing the piano?
- Will you pick up the crayons on the kitchen floor?
Whining often comprises statements of discontent instead of requests. (It is true that sometimes whining is irrational and inexplicable, I know, but this relatively rare in our house. Usually the whining is rooted in an offense, whether small or great, real or imagined.) What we discovered was that simply telling the children to stop whining isn’t always successful, because they’re still concerned about stating their grievance (only a little nicer).Having them restate their problem as a request actually changes the tone. In some ways, changing the syntax actually changes how we think.
Is this biblical? Any examples from Scripture that we can think of? Here is one:
And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
39And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
You can almost hear the whine in the disciples’ words. It’s really more an accusation that a question, and Jesus correctly identifies the problem as fear cause by unbelief. Jesus’ words have great implications for us as adults, so we’ll talk about that tomorrow.