Do We Gossip About Our Children?
This is a classic re-post of a devotion I originally wrote Jan 2008. I thought it was worth sharing again.
Do you ever catch yourself talking to others about your children – “venting” about the struggles of your children to others. I had the opportunity to present the devotion at co-op this week and the Lord very clearly put this topic on my mind. Probably because so many moms I come in contact with don’t understand the power their words have. Here are notes from the devotion.
Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD.
A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.
A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.
1 Timothy 3:11
Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.
A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends.
He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.
The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.
Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.
Thou shall not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people.
2 Thessalonians 3:11
For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.
We are clearly warned against gossip/slander/talebearing. Usually, we tend to think about this in terms of talking about friends or acquaintances. We might even consider that we shouldn’t speak about our husbands poorly. But, how often do we put this in terms of speaking about our own children?
How many times have we found ourselves “venting” about our children to others? How many times have we “asked advice” about a particular problem with our child to anyone who will listen? How many times have we told a tale about them in front of others, only to see their mortified face afterward? How many times have we been so frustrated that we let spill out our frustrations on the phone to a friend, only to have them listening in the other room?
I truly believe there’s a difference in asking advice from a “mentor” about an issue with a child and just openly complaining about the child. I believe there needs to be one or two close friends or “older women” that you can go to when you need godly counsel. But beyond those couple of people, spilling our child’s struggles to anyone who will listen can only be classified in my mind as gossip about our children. Even still, I believe what we share with close friends or mentors needs to be guarded carefully. Carefully in the way that we are really seeking counsel and not just venting, and careful in the way that we don’t speak about our children so that they can hear us.
When thinking about close friends or mentors, I feel like it’s very important to really know the person with whom we’re talking. Will they possibly continue the gossip? Will they give us godly advice and not just help us to continue the cycle of complaining?
What we expect from our children is most often what our children live up to. Our expectations are not always spoken to them. Unspoken expectations are read from things like our attitudes, facial expressions and what they overhear us saying about them. When we talk about them to others, what they hear from our mouths becomes a form of the “expectation” they relate to themselves. Even if they don’t hear us talking about them, children most often know that we have been. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they don’t know what we’ve said – even little bitty ones.
And what happens when they overhear us talking about them? Besides the expectation they start to internalize, what else happens? Bitterness, anger, dejection, hurt feelings, thoughts that they can’t possibly be good enough, thoughts that they are causing all the strife in our houses, withdrawl, sibling rivalry….????
Go back and reread 2 Thess 3:11. When we talk, talk, talk – even in the name of “I’m getting advice from a mentor” often gets us nowhere.Actually getting to work on the “issues” we have with our children is what will really make a difference.
So, what to do? Practice building our children up to others. Not only will it reap positive results if our children overhear us, but it’s likely to paint a better picture in our own minds of our children. The problems may no longer seem so bad. Ken Ham always says how you see things depends on the glasses you’re wearing. This holds true with our children as well.Looking at them from dark and negative glasses will hide all their wonderful qualities and keep us focused on the bad that needs to be fixed. Putting on positive glasses will help us to focus on their good qualities, in turn, the bad qualities are likely to be pushed out as the good qualities keep growing.
May you be blessed as you strive to uplift your children and train them to wholeheartedly follow their God and Savior. May we always be mindful of the nudging and teaching of our Lord as He shows us the way in His Word.
I agree with your wisdom in this post! Another thing along these lines that grieves me is when we talk about others to or in front of our children. It is crucial that we follow Scriptural admonition in this area and guard our tongues. Two of my favorite verses on this topic are Psalm 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips; and Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.
Thank you for your insightful post!
Good additions, Dana!
I would agree with this post if we are careful about the original language and don’t make scriptural what is not. The words used in the Greek and Hebrew that lay under the English word gossip specifically refer to being a false accuser or someone who unjustly accuses. The root word is diablos (devil). The intent is to mar the relationship with, malign or the person you are speaking out against. The other ideas is whispering. Starting a secret attack on another person and their character.
I am the mother of an addict. It does not help my child if I make her addiction a family secret. Additionally, it separates me from my support systems. Bringing her struggles into the light means that other people don’t assume she is a safe person to leave their children with. Calling her counselor and telling them she has lied about spending the weekend with me so that she will get a pass away from her court ordered commitment isn’t gossiping. No where does Scripture command me to be silent about my truth and my life.
I tell my children all the time that there is a difference between telling and tattling. In the same way, I think there is a huge difference between telling and gossiping.
Wonderful post! Thanks for pointing this out. (&…ouch!)