I Am Tired of Complaining About My Children


I Am Tired of Complaining About My Children

There we were – in the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, feeling the woosh of the electronic sliding doors, welcoming you into a gift-giver’s paradise. Surrounded by brightly colored coffee mugs, intricately woven rugs by world artisans, and the fresh smell of milled scented soaps, we struggled to find our place in the already overcrowded store. Vintage Christmas melodies swooned from the store speakers to soothe snarky shoppers as instrumental music would lull a babe during the struggle of an afternoon nap. We had discovered several finds for our family when I had to dislodge my youngest from his umbrella stroller to use as a makeshift shopping cart. With all three children now free to roam the crowded wellspring of holiday merchandise, a woman, seemingly out of nowhere, approached us and handed my oldest a bag of chocolate coins and four dollars.

Breathless, she sighed and said, “Is it okay if your children buy these chocolates and share them? I normally buy these for myself each year, but your children have been just so well behaved in this store I really would love to get these for them. The money should cover it. May I?”

Surprised and slightly distracted by the tugging on my jeans and the rifling of old fashioned toys on the store shelves, I happily obliged yet gently questioned the stranger lady’s decision making: “That is so kind! But are you sure? I mean, they’ve been all over the place in this store!”

With a wink and a smile, she returned back to her husband, and the children enjoyed their surprise candy treat.

A few weeks later, while grocery shopping, a similar experience occurred. As a seemingly quick trip prompted me to take the troops on foot instead of sailing in a grocery buggy, my four year old accidentally cut a woman off in a narrow aisle, filled with picture frames and other breakable items.

Without prompting, he stopped, turned around toward the woman and said, “I am so sorry! Please excuse me.”

The lady, with a shocked expression on her face, looked at me and exclaimed, “Did he just say excuse me AND I am sorry?! YOU are a good mom.”

Immediately I went into a billion reasons why I am not, starting with, “Well, ma’am, I don’t know I would go that far…”

Cutting me off and staring me dead into the eyes, she said, “Well, I WOULD. You ARE a good mom.”

My seven year old, grazing my hand lightly as the lady marched on, quietly said, “See Mommy? You really are. You need to listen to her.”

It was then that I realized that I had a struggle with complaining. And downplaying. About myself and sadly, about my children.

We live in this culture that loves self-praise and self-gratification so much that we are afraid to agree with anything good spoken over us or our families at risk of sounding conceited:

When someone tells me I look pretty I respond with “I look tired.”

If someone compliments my choice of clothing, I make a joke that I have worn these same jeans two days in a row.

When friends and family enjoy coming to our home, I point out that we have nothing hanging in our hallways, I am behind on laundry, and it is “still a work in progress.”

And when strangers – TOTAL STRANGERS – tell me that I am a good mom and my children are beautiful and well behaved, I go into an utterly unnecessary tirade of how I am barely making it as a mother, question God for making me one, and site random examples of salsa jars breaking on aisle seven and tantrums on the cold concrete ground in the parking lot.


So, I decided to try this out for myself. Last week, I was in a store, by myself, and saw a mother with five small children, one in a buggy, and the other four following her quietly in a store full of craft supplies, lamps, mirrors, and other various breakable objects.

“Wow! You guys are doing awesome!!” I said. “And so are you, mama!”

“Well, you must not have heard them on the other side of the store, and these two I babysit, and these two are sixteen months apart, and…”

Mamas? This is an ugly cycle we need to break. TODAY

LET SOMEONE TELL YOU TODAY HOW IMPORTANT YOU ARE. How vital you are to your family, your home, your community, your workplace, to the stranger that takes your order at a restaurant.

Let it start with us. I am tired of complaining about my children. They are friendly, smart, courteous, wise. They let people go first into an open door, and they find toys in their rooms to gift their siblings on a normal day, just because. They wave at strangers, and they still make birthday cards for our elderly neighbor, even though we moved almost two years ago.

You are beautiful, valued, and you ARE doing a good job. How can strangers see it and we cannot? Our world is notorious for using words as weapons. Countries are at war, families are broken, friendships are severed.

Today? Be grateful. Pleasant words are sweet to the soul. Just smile, give thanks, and shower someone else with the same kindness.


  1. I do this same thing all the time…when someone says he’s so good so well behaved…I’m like well you didn’t see this or that. We just need to stop and take the compliment!

  2. SO.GOOD. And so timely. Just this morning at the dentist’s office the dentist said, “I don’t know what you guys are doing, but you have some great kids.” And I replied, “We just got lucky.”

    What? Come on. Yes, I think my kids are extra special, but I know they don’t behave like they do because they’re real angels sent from above. We work hard to discipline them when needed, praise them when needed. Are they always well behaved? No way! But when they are and someone notices? I’m going to start simply saying thank you.

  3. I love this. I always try to say “Thank you, they’re great kids.” I really believe that the more my kids hear that they are great kids, the more likely they are to behave that way.

  4. I thought that the other day when my daughter received a complement and I said, “You should be at our house when she wakes up.”
    I also think that kind of self and family downplaying is part of Southern women culture.
    Sunday when the same lady told my daughter how much she enjoyed meeting her and turned to me and said, “You have a very lovely daughter.” I caught my down response and said, “Thank you, I think she’s pretty great too.”
    I felt better for it, and I’m sure my daughter did.
    Keep reminding people! This could change the world. Really. Think if all children heard a grateful thank you and extra praise for every outside complement. How great would that be?!?

    • This is such a lovely story and I think you are spot on with the Southern women culture observation! There are little quirks we carry with us that sometimes I do not even think we initially notice. Although most Southern culture aspects I am super proud of, this is not one of them 😉

  5. This is not just mom’s. I find myself doing the same thing with my kids. I have four and when we take them to dinner people say “your kids are well behaved” I look at them and ask “are we talking about the same children?” My kids are great but am also in this same trap. Thanks for the eye opener.

  6. It is so very true I was in a parallel situation where I was in a meeting and the principal of the school my daughter attends was there. She is not the principal anymore she is still in the school district but was last year and my daughter just loved her, anyway, she said to me you know you do a really good job with your daughter. You let her be herself and yet guide her creative and outgoing spirit. I was floored and actually said, What?, I had no idea what to say and also how to even take the compliment. After a few too many second pause I finally mutter thanks but was just so shocked.

    It is important to remember that we are all good moms doing our best and that it is alright to take compliments! This article was great! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  7. So glad I saved this to read on my desktop when it first came out. This was so beautiful and so very true. I do this very same thing and I know all of my friends who are mothers do too. Praying for the grace to accept goodness about my and my little family! Thank you so much for this!

  8. Thanks. I really needed to read this today. It made me cry. I have really great kids but I’m not good at accepting compliments and I don’t think my kids know how great i truly think they are because I try to downplay compliments in false modesty. Thanks for helping me see myself and my kids in a different light.

  9. 🙂 Wonderful post! Recently we were headed into the post Thrift Shop and my 14 yo held the door open for a lady coming out who commented “Wow Chivalry isn’t dead! Thank you!” … While to often I have to remind him -I made sure I told him how proud I was of him for being thoughtful, obedient and a good Scout 😉 We all need to hear thank you and good job sometimes!

  10. Oh. My. Goodness – you have NO idea how much I needed to read this… about myself and about my mothering. We spent Christmas with my mother and she “gently” gave me advice for a few days – then, on the last day we were there, she lost it and started yelling at me about how I was parenting/disciplining my 7 yr old son. It was ugly and we left early and went to a hotel. I cried for hours (and it still chokes me up now)….. I AM doing a good job, darnit!!! and God wants me to know that!!!!!! I read this article at work and had to fight back the tears the entire time. I NEEDED this. Thank you so much!!!!!! I’m going to print it out so that I can re-read it again later (and probably let the tears come). Blessings!

  11. Beautiful! I so very much needed to hear this. Needed someone to say it to me. I have tears in my eyes right now thinking off all the time I have wasted brushing people off, thinking bad about myself and my kids. I resolve to stop that right this minute! Thank you, thank you, Thank You!!!

  12. Thank you so much for writing such honest words! I have just read two of your posts and I am blown away at how your words spoke directly to my heart. It is great to be reminded that we are not alone in this journey! God bless you!

  13. I’m so guilty of this. My husband & I receive compliments on our children’s manners & behavior quite often, yet I tend to twist it or ignore it, or (HORRIBLY) “use it” when my kids do misbehave (ie. That lady at the store wouldn’t say you behaved well if she saw you right now… OUCH)… I never realized how guilty I am of this it. We DO have courteous, respectful, caring children, because we’ve worked very hard from their birth to teach them to be that way! THANKS!


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