If there's anything I can't deal with successfully, it's whining. Luckily the leadership folks in both of my congregations are non-whiners. But in the course of my personal and professional life, I do have to spend time with a few whiny types.
I've finally managed, after years of trying to define that "fingernail on the blackboard" tone of voice that announces "major whine in process", to put it into words that satisfy me.
A whiner is saying, in word and tone, "life isn't treating me well and it ought to". To which I now can respond, "life isn't necessarily supposed to treat you well----------you're supposed to treat life well."
I think of two people with remarkably different approaches to life's challenges. One has had a really difficult life situation to deal with and this person meets it all head-on, just doing what is needed and coping. This person will talk about it and vent, but there's no whiny tone in this person's voice or look on the face. The other person has had a pretty steady and easy life in most ways; however, the tone of voice is different, childish, making people feel ill at ease with complaints.
I enjoy being with the first person, despite the challenges this person needs to talk about. I avoid the other person as much as possible. This is not a nice thing for a minister to admit. I would like to be more pastoral to the second person, but all I want to do is shake this person and say "grow up!"
A human being can outgrow whininess; I've seen it happen in my own family. My sister was a champ, when we were growing up. "Mama, Betsy's being mean to me again..." appealing to our mother to punish me for my crimes rather than saying to me "you cut it out, big sister, you're being mean!" and only invoking the mommy-law if absolutely necessary. Once we matured a good deal more, we each improved our basic natures. I'm not mean to her anymore and she doesn't whine.
I think younger sibs do feel weaker and this is their perceived weapon against bullying. But it actually only increases their weakness and vulnerability. It is essential to life to learn how to get our needs met without whining. Person number 2 has not learned this lesson yet but it may be that I will get brave enough someday to sit down with this person and discuss my whining theory of life.
So much for that rant!