Are Moms Allowed to Gossip?

My son’s kindergarten teacher recently sent a link home called “19 Commandments From Maria Montessori to Help You Become the Perfect Parent.” Now, I’ve long since given up the idea that I will ever be a perfect parent but I do love me a good How-To list. Perhaps it’s the way lists make it feel so neat and tidy and possible, as if I really could become a perfect parent by following 19 simple steps. And I have to admit, I was feeling rather smug after reading the first few. 

Love-filled house? Check. Shame-free parenting? (mostly) Check. Requisite praise? Duly given. Surrounded by safety and support? Yup and Yup. But then I got to one that gave me pause. 

Number thirteen on this list of gems from Maria Montessori says: “Never speak badly of a child, in their presence or otherwise.” 

I do try my best to avoid mom gossip in front of the kids, but it’s that “or otherwise” that stopped me in my tracks. Does this mean I am not to speak ill of my children to anyone, ever? Like not even over a few glasses of wine with my girlfriends on a much needed moms night out? Am I not allowed to roll my eyes at this whole motherhood thing and call my kid a name not suitable for print? Really Maria? 

moms gossip

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized she had a point. OK yes, sometimes I really just need to vent and make the strangulation-gesture with my two hands when friends ask me how it’s going with the kids. As in, they’re driving me crazy today and I’m ready to strangle them. But I’ve been venting a lot lately, and it never actually leaves me feeling all that good afterwards. In fact, somehow, it only seems to reinforce the attitude that my kids are, in fact, driving me crazy. And you know what happens the next time I interact with them? You guessed it, they drive me crazy! 

Now I’m not saying it’s not okay to vent. It’s healthy, it’s normal, it helps us relate to each other on so many levels. And besides, I don’t want to be that mom who’s casually sipping her cabernet and pretending to have it all together, because that is SO not me. But I wonder if being too negative about my children’s behavior when I’m talking to others only serves to perpetuate the very behavior I wish would improve? 

I think for now I’m just going try and be more mindful of my words about my children. Are they constructive? Do I need help or will telling this story help me to get advice that I need? Is it serving a purpose that is useful? And how do I feel afterwards? 

I’d love to hear how other moms balance this need to connect with other moms versus straight up gossip when it comes to our children. Is it ever okay? (Or maybe you disagree with Maria Montessori and think it’s always okay?) I’d love to know! Please share below! 

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7 Responses to Are Moms Allowed to Gossip?

  1. Mary O'Connell March 14, 2017 at 7:28 am #

    Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf) and Maria Montessori agree on this one! As does the Buddhist eightfold path — Right Speech. Not easy, but something worth striving for.

  2. Carolyn March 14, 2017 at 9:52 am #

    I agree we shouldn’t say negative things about them in front of them, but to totally disregard our own feelings is doing us a disservice. I’ve found recently that the thing that most connects me to others is vulnerability. Moms admitting our parenting fails and challenges allows us to bond. Yes, too much could become a self fulfilling prophesy, but admit what is difficult, laugh in the commonalities, work to become better, and report back the successes! We’re all in this together, after all. 🙂

  3. Meagan Schultz
    Meagan Schultz March 14, 2017 at 10:19 am #

    You said it, Mary! Not easy, but worth striving for! Thanks for reading!

  4. Lindsay
    Lindsay March 15, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

    Sometimes “venting” is sharing a funny story or is a great way to ask another mom for their thoughts and guidance. And sometimes venting is venting because we need to vent in order to move on!

  5. Auntie Jude April 25, 2017 at 10:52 am #

    I liked how quickly you related to Maria’s viewpoint on number 13. I’d say it speaks volumes about your enlightenment process! 🙂

  6. Erica wilkinson July 22, 2017 at 1:29 am #

    I agree with the article and your interpretation of it. As a teacher it’s always made me cringe if another teacher vented using harsh language about a child. Have I been frustrated by them, do they drive me nuts, yes and yes but they are growing and learning and giving harsh labels to them (i.e. Adult swear words or labels) just doesn’t seem correct to me are they really doing that behavoir on purpose like some adults might or are they trying to figure out life. They are generally trying to figure out life. I liked what you said about venting is good if it helps you receive advice or verbally work through a problem. Also remember with a trusted friend your okay but what if the mom you vent too turns around and shares with another mom? You’ve just started potentially hurtful rumors about your own kid so know your audience too:
    I especially think moms need to be extra careful when gossiping about other stundents in class too. I know certain students can seem frustrating when you only hear stories second hand from your kid but usually there is more to the story and that child and parent of the child maybe struggling to overcome obstacles you can’t even understand or that a teacher may not legally even be able to share with you. Empathy and understanding that we are all trying to do our best. I wish more people would try And reach out to the parents (or the teacher) to help those struggling kids that get vented about because they might just need the help and support of a friend.

    • Meagan
      Meagan July 22, 2017 at 2:26 pm #

      Thanks Erica – this is a really important perspective – thanks so much for sharing! Teachers definitely have another view of our children. And I couldn’t agree more about us all trying to do our best – empathy and understanding are SO important!

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