Ask parents what bothers them the most about their children’s behavior and “whining and complaining” probably make the top five list of almost everyone. What if you could do something fun that might just help them better understand why complaining is something they need to erase from their lives?
This one takes a little effort, but it’s more fun and thereby possibly more effective than your daily lectures on the topic. You will need to get some tonic water, some quail (your butcher can special order it they don’t normally carry it) and make a batch of “manna” cookies (you can find a recipe here). Then grab your kids and a Bible.
Tell your kids they are going to have an experience very similar to one the Israelites had in the wilderness. Take your kids outside and go on a really long walk. (This works best on a warm day.) Have the tonic water and some cups in a tote bag. When your kids complain about being thirsty, give them a drink of the tonic water. (It’s bitter, but won’t hurt them.)
When you arrive home, serve them manna cookies. Ask them what it would be like if that were the only food you served them at every meal for the rest of their years at home – no restaurant meals, no school lunches – just manna every meal. (Note: No one knows for sure exactly what manna tastes like. This recipe is based on the few clues we can find in the Bible.)
Pull out your Bible and tell them the story from Numbers 10 and 11. When you reach the part about quail, let your kids taste some of the quail meat you cooked.
As they are eating have them discuss how they felt on your little “journey”. What are some reasons all of the complaining made God and even the leaders so upset and angry? Remind them God had just delivered the people from horrible slavery. Discuss what the people should have been grateful for instead of complaining. Ask your kids how all of the complaining might have affected Moses and Aaron and their leadership. What about Joshua, who was in training to become the next leader? What about the people themselves?
Ask them what things they complain and whine about a lot. What should they be grateful for instead? How does their whining and complaining have a negative effect on others? Challenge them to think of ways to remind themselves to be more aware of their complaining and make an effort to stop. (You might even want to have a family challenge to encourage everyone to break bad habits!)
If you’re a Christian parent, you are well aware there are a couple of verses in the Bible about children obeying their parents. You may have even used them from time to time to remind your kids to obey you.
As your kids get older, the obedience part becomes more natural (hopefully!). The part that causes them issues at times is the part we forget is in the verse. Here’s the entire passage found in Ephesians 6:1-3, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother” (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on the earth.”
When I was in school and worried about a test, my parents would usually say, “Just do your best.” I knew they meant study, get help from my teacher if I needed it and try to answer the test questions in the best way I knew how to do. No one called this being a perfectionist or worried about our mental health.
Yet at some point, someone noticed there were a few people who took things to an extreme. They expected themselves and everyone around them to be perfect all of the time. So we started being told to “chill” a bit and not worry so much about being “perfect”.
Have you ever tried to find a book on Christian parenting? There are dozens of great ones on the market. Have you asked a parent – who raised children who are faithful, productive Christians as adults – what they did? Or did you attend one of our Christian parenting seminars filled with ideas and tips?
Many of those sources may have listed a few characteristics of a successful Christin parent. Maybe they emphasized love, patience or godliness. There are three qualities though that are often implied in Christian parenting advice, but rarely stated plainly enough for most people to understand their true importance.
Tantrums, hysterical crying, stomping feet – as a parent, you are probably familiar with the strong emotions children often have – and the many ways they can be expressed.
Unfortunately, the “natural” ways kids express their emotions are not always the most healthy and godly ways to process them. As a parent, you need to help your children learn how to process their emotions in ways that are pleasing to God, yet still healthy for them.