My friend Lynn had been trying to reach me and we are an hour’s time zone apart.  She had something she wanted to hash out and since we are in different cities…..

….AND different social cultures, we often run things by each other when we need help.  

She had sent me this cryptic text that said she needed to talk to me about a “God, lightbulb moment where she realized her pride had  been in the way.”   I text back that whatever it was, I was pretty sure that my pride often got in the way too.  

We finally connected while I threw the last of my dinner dishes in the dishwasher and I began to listen as she described her “situation.”  She told me that at a night out with moms recently, one mom who was always prone to sharing all the latest information about which girls had been up to trouble and with whom, divulged loads of reputation killing information about girls in her daughter’s grade.  

Gossip Mom was “friend” to all those under the age of 18 and could entice the specifics of every party and naughty thing anybody had done out of the girls….especially those things they might not tell their own parents.

Lynn explained that Gossip Mom pumped the girls for information but then turned around and used that information as power with the other moms.  

Lynn confessed that she had been guilty time and again of listening, and just generally participating as a bystander whenever Gossip Mom would start revealing stories.  Lynn said she never stopped her or called her on it.  She liked hearing the scoop.  But in her gut, she felt uncomfortable. 

On this night though…..it got personal.

While Gossip Mom held court with the group of moms, she began to devulge information about all of the daughters at the table including my friend Lynn’s daughter.  In front of her.  In front of everybody.  And Lynn was furious. 

Lynn lamented to me that it was her own pride that allowed her to listen to all the garbage about other girls, thinking, not my girl, my girl behaves. But when she heard this woman casually slay her own daughter like a roast on the dinner table that night…..well, then it was different.  She had had enough.  Lynn confronted her and then took a walk to sort out her feelings.  

The trouble with trouble is it starts out as fun.  Quote by Anonymous

Who does gossip actually hurt? 

Sometimes we engage in gossipy conversation to connect and come into agreement with someone we are trying to find commonalities with ….by validating that we are on the “same page” about a subject or person ….then we have determined we are on the same team.  

But is it really unifying? 

In other situations….as in all of life….knowledge is power.  Knowing means you are in the know.  Gossip Mom was in the know.  She was in the loop.  How do you think the other moms felt? 

“Why didn’t my daughter tell me that? Gosh I’m so out of it.  I’m such a loser or prude, my daughter doesn’t tell me anything.  Wow, that’s going on in this grade? Fear, I wonder if my daughter is doing that?…..negative, negative, negative”

Gossip is like a passive form of bullying since the target isn’t there so you could say it’s meant to make the gossiper feel better about him or herself, just like a bully does.  

Believe me, I have participated in many a gossip session that was just flat out wrong.  But here are the reasons that I think abstaining is a better choice when it comes to gossip; and I’m talking to myself here too:

  1.  Treat others as you would want them to treat you. My mom used to always say that. Thanks mom.
  2. The only person that you really hurt when you gossip ….is the relationship sitting in front of you.  The person you are talking about may never ever know you said those things.  The trust you are eroding is with those you are talking to right there.  When I heard this in my early 20s, it stopped me dead in my tracks.  It’s just not effective in building REAL friendships.
  3. Rumors label people.   Sometimes good people have bad behavior but that doesn’t mean they are bad people.  I sure wouldn’t want someone labeling me with a rewind of MY whole life.  OH gosh that would take me down!  Discussing things gives it legs and life to just keep going and going.  Making it more real.
  4. Personal things should stay personal. Nuff said. 
  5. Reputations are hard to forget.  People are going to make mistakes and should be able to learn from them and reinvent themselves, especially teenagers!  Gossip perpetuates labels, reputations and negative vibes on a kid.  The village needs to redirect, encourage, support and guide together……not burn at the stake for a foul.
  6. Hey man, it’s just flat out negative to go down that rabbit trail.  It will make your heart beat faster but that’s just stress as you learn about the latest escapade of teenagers and wonder if yours is doing that!  That’s probably Cortisol which is probably contributing to raising your sugar levels and probably giving you …like cancer or something.  Oh that’s just gossip from me but I’m just sayin  You don’t need all that negativity.  Do you?  
  7. MIND, BODY, SPIRIT….Think excellent thoughts, focus on the positive, eliminate the negative  …..Try a gossip fast instead of a gossip fest and see what happens? Bet you feel excellent!
  8. It’s Biblical.  Don’t Gossip.  Proverbs 20:19 says “He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip.” and Proverbs 10:18 “He who spreads slander is a fool.” Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” and Philippians 4: 8 “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” 

Lynn and I finished talking about the whole thing and agreed to watch our own tongues, focusing on the positive.  We talked about the complicated conversations she was planning to have with her daughter and how to warn her daughter to choose carefully who she shares private information with as well.   What do you think about this subject?  Share your thoughts or tips for how to handle situations similar to Lynn’s  in the Submit a Reply box below. 

Best,

Ivy

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