Complaining About Kids: Necessary Venting or Time for Change?

Complaining about kids has become a standard requirement of the motherhood conversation. Is it really accomplishing what we think it is though?

Complaining about kids has become a standard requirement of the motherhood conversation. Is it really accomplishing what we think it is though?

It seems we have a misunderstanding. We have come to accept complaining about kids as a necessity of motherhood. We have been so wronged in our role as mother that it requires large amounts of bitching and wine to even think about processing the injustice that happened to us the day our first child was born. This sounds dramatic, I know. But look through your Facebook feed, listen on the playground, or watch most television shows- they are loaded with conversations complaining about our kids.

Our poor kids! What did they ever do to deserve this? They did not ask to be born. They cannot help that it is impossible for them to pour milk or make a grilled cheese. It is a biological norm that they require more sleep and comfort. They are vulnerable helpless little beings who need us. That’s right- they need us.

Many of us justify complaining about kids by saying we need to “process motherhood”. We need to “commiserate” about how hard it is. I get it. It is hard sometimes. When both our 2 and 4 year olds are exhausted and need to sleep or our aunt’s voice is in our head telling us we better learn to be the boss now before it’s too late, it’s hard. This does not make our kids complaint worthy, though. This is what we signed up for. Maybe motherhood is more demanding than we expected, but must we use our kids as scapegoats for issues that we cannot handle? Wouldn’t it be better to acknowledge that we are facing a challenge or internal struggle and commit to addressing it instead of lowering our children’s self worth by complaining about them- especially in front of them?

I am Not Suggesting that Life is Always Easy or Beautiful, But How Do Our Kids Feel?

Sometimes it all becomes too much. We snap. We yell. We threaten. We apologize (hopefully). We work on ourselves so that we won’t do it again (hopefully). We are human. These things happen. Feeling entitled to complain about our kids though is not the answer. Rather, it is a formula for resentment, disconnection, and low self-worth for our children- whether we call it venting, processing or what it actually is; complaining.

How about looking at it from our kids’ perspective? How must it feel for our children to have their mom(s) and/or dad(s) talk about how hard they make our lives all the time? How devastating must it be to hear that even once? It must feel like they are ruining the lives of the people they love more than anyone in the world- the people who are their whole world. Shoulders so tiny should never bear that responsibility.

There is something we should consider before we attempt to  justify complaining as “venting”, “processing” or “commiserating”: do our kids believe what we say? Do they take our words as truthful and from our heart? If they believe what we say, how is our complaining affecting them?

Peggy O’Mara has a beautiful quote that elicited a ton of personal change for me. She said “The way we talk to their children becomes their inner voice”. I would venture to say that the way we talk about our children also becomes their inner voice.

What Happens When We Stop Complaining About Kids?

The space that was once filled with dread, resentment, and annoyance can be filled with connection, happiness, and appreciation. Should we commit to stopping our complaining, it cannot be just in theory. We must stop fully- so that we learn how to not complain even in our own heads. Complaining never created anything good and does not create change. Recognizing that we are unhappy, overwhelmed, or need a change can be the impetus for getting closer to the happy family life we want.

Our choices today determine what our family dynamic will be when our children our grown. Complaining about our children is not something most of us want as part of our family history. It has become so popular though, that many of us did not know we can opt out. We can. We can opt out of complaining about kids and opt into really knowing, loving, and supporting them. What do you choose?


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