Do You Gossip About Other People's Kids?

Filed under: Weird But True, Opinions

Moms are gossiping about other people's kids. Image: Julia Freeman-Woolpert/sxc.hu

Whether you participate in it or not, it's hard to avoid gossip. Reality TV, celebrity culture and gossip rags all promote this idea that it's okay to talk about what other people are doing -- even if it's none of your business. But what about when it comes to kids? Is it okay to talk about other parent's kids? Are moms doing too much gossiping?

It happened to me once. I was standing with a mom acquaintance we'd run into at the park. Watching our kids play, she noticed how well they got along. And then it happened, she dropped the gossip bomb. "Not like _____'s kids," she began. "We had them over once. Can you believe the way those kids behave?"

The problem was, ______ was a friend of mine, and her kids spend a lot of time at my house. Not wanting a confrontation, I quickly changed the subject. But I was left with the feeling that I should have said something more.

I probably should have, at least according to author Michelle Borba. She tells MSNBC that parents have two choices -- become part of the problem or part of the solution. "You've got two options -- are you going to step up to the plate and become one of them or be the integrity model?" Borba says. She thinks moms should stop the conversation before it starts with a gentle but firm, "You know, I feel uncomfortable talking about other people's kids."

Tara, a mom of two girls, says she hears gossip every day while waiting to pick her kids up from school. "The school hallway where all the good gossip happens," she tells ParentDish. "I hear murmurs all the time." In fact, Tara says last year she heard a dad spouting off about starting a petition to have a child removed from his kid's classroom. "I know that boy," she said, "That guy was blowing things way out of proportion, but parents definitely started treating his mom differently after that."

Tara says she tries her best to avoid gossiping parents and doesn't participate in the practice herself. But mom blogger LJ, who asked not to be identified, admits that she's been known to gossip. "'l'd like to think I'm not (gossiping) to tear other moms down...or to make myself look like a better Mom. But I'm not sure why I do it. I guess I just need to talk about it."

According to Borba, LJ probably hit the nail on the head. Parents buy into the naturally competitive atmosphere that's created in schools and so every little thing becomes a challenge to be better than the next parent.

The problem, though, is that kids emulate their parents, so if your daughter overhears you on the phone complaining about how you can't believe ______'s son won first prize at the school art fair, she just might be the kid spreading rumors about her friends when she reaches junior high. Gossiping can be fun, but it rarely leads anywhere good.

My family lives in a small city, our daughters attend a small school and most of our extracurricular activities take place in our same neighborhood. Our soccer coach's wife runs the program my preschooler attends, a program where my kid plays with the daughter of a woman who works with my husband. That woman babysits one of my first grader's classmates. You get the picture. I'd be a fool to take up gossiping or I'd soon find myself without anyone to talk to. Instead of complaining about other people's kids, I keep myself busy complaining about my own.

What about you? Do you talk about other parents and/or their children? What's your opinion on gossiping?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.