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?
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!