Thursday, May 7, 2009

May Niche Article--Gossiping About Our Children

Gossiping about our Children

During the past year or so, I have been very convicted about gossiping about my children. Some of you can probably relate. You are talking with another mom, or group of moms when something someone says makes you think about a struggle you are having with one of your own children and next thing you know you are telling them about Johnny’s anger problem or his inability to tie his shoes at age seven. I have done this often. After all, what Mom doesn’t love talking about her children?

I would be horrified if Jeff went to work and told his co-workers, "Kim has such a gluttony problem. And can you believe she burned supper tonight? Here we have been married for 21 years and she still burns supper sometimes. And you should see how long it takes her to get dressed some mornings! Why, the other day she was still in her PJs at 10:00 in the morning!" (I should hasten to add that Jeff would never dream of talking that way about me to his co-workers.) Yet I have talked like that about my children.

Several things happened in the past few months to convict me that I should not be saying negative things to others about my children. I shared with one friend that I have a child who sometimes has anger issues. I notice that the next time she and her children were at my home, she treated that child differently than she had before. She was not as kind and friendly towards my child. She also seemed to want to keep her children away from this particular child of mine even though my child had never expressed anger towards her children. Since this friend was well liked by all my children, I felt badly that I had put a wedge in their relationship. I have noticed in other situations, as well, that when I say negative things about a particular child, he or she is treated differently.

Another thing that convicted me about gossiping about my children was that a couple of times (that I know of) they have overheard me. I could tell by the look on their faces that they were hurt. In talking to them later, I learned that they felt I had betrayed their trust. Even though I apologized to them and they forgave me, it did not take away from the fact that they knew their mom had shared something very personal about them.

The third thing that convicted me about this was when word “got around” that one of my children was afraid of the dark. I had “only” told a couple of people and the next thing I knew, several people knew and my child was teased about it by other children.

Shortly after these things took place, I was reading in James 3: 5-12 in my private devotions. Verses eight and nine especially spoke to me.

But to the tongue can no man tame, it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father, therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

That sure was convicting to me. Did I really want my tongue to be “deadly poison” to my children? Did I want to “curse” them, my dear children who made in the image of God.

We are to bless others with our tongue. Our children are not the exception clause. It does not edify either our child or the person we are speaking to when we tell others about our children’s faults and failures.

I try to be very careful not to gossip or speak badly of others. Yet, I was willing to tell even casual acquaintances about sins and struggles in my children’s lives.

There are times when I still visit with other moms, because it is helpful to talk about the not so fun parts of parenting with others who can relate, but I am more vague. Instead of naming a specific child and going into detail about something, I will say things like “I can sure relate, we have had a similar issue at our house” or “Yes, one of my children went through that, too.”

There are a couple of exceptions when I believe it is okay to talk about our children’s struggles. The main one, of course, is our husband. As the head of our family, Jeff should certainly know what is going on in our children’s lives. Since I spend more hours with them, I often see these things before he does and it is important that I keep him abreast of what is going on in our home.

I also have two very dear friends who edify and encourage me and who pray for me regularly. I do share my burdens relating to my children with them and they share theirs with me. I know they will pray for my child and for me and that they will still love my child even if they know of his or her struggles (as I will for their children). I also know they will never tell anyone else about my concerns, except for perhaps their husbands. I have also occasionally needed to talk to Sunday School teachers and others who have been in leadership positions over my children about behavior issues or learning disabilities though I make sure to make it clear that I want it to stay between us.

We want to avoid the opposite extreme as well. While there is nothing wrong with sharing our children’s accomplishments, we need to do it in a humble manner. Most of us have met parents who constantly brag about their children. You came away thinking that their children must be the only children on the earth who could possibly be that intelligent and well behaved. I have been guilty of bragging about my children as well, although, sadly, I usually err on the side of being critical. (Of course there is an exception clause to this and that is Grandparents. You can brag about your children all you want to them and not only will it not bother them. they will love it!)

I would like to close with a verse that has been both convicting and encouraging to me.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

God bless you as you edify your children.


Kandie Stilwell said...

Good job and, oh, so true. We all fail in keeping our child's trust about issues in their lives. Love ya.

mrsmarkdave said...

Wow! That's really convicting!

Kim S said...

Thanks, Kandie and Mari. (((HUGS)) You are both so encouraging.

Julie said...

I have had an uneasy feeling on this issue for a while now but I have not stopped to take the time to make some well thought out decisions as to how and when to discuss these things. Instead I have vacillated back and forth between not really sharing at all and sharing too much when I have felt a strong need for ? I'm not sure what word I should insert there. Not always sure of my motive. Advice, encouragement, justification? Sometimes my motivation behind wanting to talk about my children is honorable and sometimes I'm afraid it might not be. Thank you for thinking through this issue and then taking the time to share with others about it.