Weaning and Whining

People can give new meanings to words. Weaning is usually used to describe the process of convincing a baby to give up breast feeding. But being a father and an observer of human behaviors has led me to the conclusion that weaning is a life long process. I’m not suggesting that it takes a lifetime to give up suckling a breast, and many men never do. I am suggesting that “giving up” is a process that continues throughout growth and development. In fact, you could say that we are ultimately weaned from the tit of life itself.

Whining is another thing I hear a lot of and I am forced to conclude it has a lot to do with weaning. In fact, the one follows from the other. When you wean a child he whines. I am pretty sure that this whining, if allowed to continue throughout adulthood, is responsible for many murders in families.

One of the really tiresome jobs of parenting is weaning your children from all sorts of things. As humans we start out life totally dependent. Your job as parent is to raise them to independence. This means removing one by one all of the dependencies. Hopefully if you done it right they can leave the “nest” before they are 40 years old. And hopefully you can do it all with the minimum amount of whining. I don’t have a definitive answer to the whining part so if you do, then please drop me an email.

Now some child rearing books I’ve read suggest that at some point the child actually wants their independence. We call these children teenagers. And while it’s true that teenagers crave autonomy from their parents, I’ve also noticed they often have a real feeling of entitlement which can only come from not being fully weaned. I have a post teen living at home who thinks that he is in a hotel and that I am the concierge. And he thinks his mother is the housekeeping and kitchen staff. This weaning problem becomes the real dilemma of life. Even after being kicked out of the nest the weaning process continues. I think that for many people it ends with some sort of codependent relationship with a spouse. Maybe the weaning is never really over.

For many the weaning process can be sudden and traumatic. You often hear stories about these people and how they found some sort of inner strength to continue their lives. I wonder about the people that you don’t hear stories about. The ones who don’t really survive the break.

Adults have weaning to do as well. Many men have to be weaned from their sexual expectations as they grow older. And many are apparently still sucking at the little blue nipple of viagra pills. Women have their issues as well. Some should be weaned from their credit cards. And unfortunately in our society we’ve raised many children, male and female alike, to believe in a fairy tale existence with a fairy tale ending: a delusion from which they ultimately will have to be weaned.

But the real test of adulthood, at least it seems to me, is when you can translate your whining from the negative into something that is NOT whining, a positive. Whining is just a cry for a tit that might never come. At some point in life, you have to stop looking for its meaning and start living life to give it meaning. and you can’t hardly do that and be whining all the time.

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