Here’s a confession: I can be a bit of a gossip. It’s a habit I’ve attempted to break, but this habit is one of the harder ones for me to stop.
When one of my girlfriends comes by, we dump on each other. We give each other the full run down of our lives up to the last point we saw each other. There’s sure to be “I didn’t tell you this?!” and “This is a l-o-n-g story.”
If it’s been a while since we saw each other, the conversation can quickly turn from life updates to life gossip. It’s usually at that point when my nine year old decides that she would like to join the conversation.
And here is where my struggle begins.
Do I let my nine year old stay in the conversation, or force her to leave?
Am I wanting this conversation with my girlfriend to be private because it’s simply not appropriate for a child’s ears OR because I’m talking negatively about someone and I don’t want my girl to hear? Embarrassingly, it is often the latter.
I was so frustrated. I was so worked up, angry. Hurt.
A close friend of mine asked how I was, and I spilled it. I was angry at my sister and I was angry at my mom. In hushed whispers I whined to my friend. She did this, she said that. And then this happened. I can’t believe this! I just can’t even.
A pause in my rant brought my nine year old girl into the room. The rant skittered to a complete halt. My girl slumped half her body onto the table and pouted.
“Why are you saying mean things about Aunt B?” she asked.
I had to think for a moment. I wanted to answer my girl honestly and appropriately. The honest answer was, because I felt that Aunt B was completely in the wrong and I wanted to prove how wrong she was to my friend. That’s pretty catty of me.
The concepts I want my babes to know at this point in their lives:
- An argument does not equal hate
- Disagreeing with someone does not mean that either person is bad
- There’s good in everyone
- It’s possible to be angry and love at the same time
How can I show my girl that there is good in everyone if she’s only hearing my judgmental rants?
I don’t want my negative experiences with people in my life to strongly impact my daughters’ opinions of those same people. If I have a dispute or disagreement with a friend or a family member, my destined rant needs to go my journal first where I can work through the problem rather than involve others in the experience.
The experience that typically doesn’t receive the same attention as a loud rant: the resolution.
Simply working through the dispute in my own mind sometimes brings resolution, but any ears that heard my original complaints will not be a part of that resolution. The owners of those ears may still have ill feelings toward the friend or family member I had whined about.
And I don’t want that for my girls.
I Need To Quit You, Gossip!
I read a great line in a book called Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman: “Why be concerned with gossip? Because it’s much easier, as well as far more enjoyable, to identify and label the mistakes of others than to recognize our own.”
I don’t want to raise catty girls. If I am true to that, I cannot be catty myself. My girls’ little super sonic ears pick up everything.