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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4 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!

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