I dropped Bug off at school after a mid-day doctor appointment. I lingered in the hall for a few minutes after signing her in, hoping to see Bird on her way to lunch. Bird and her friend, Sparkles, greeted me with hugs and gushing words about the trouble they had been having at recess. I knew about playground drama. The frequency of the emotional disasters though was making it hard to take seriously. I wanted to laugh, knowing it would be forgotten tomorrow.
“Do you want me to come eat with you?” Jumping with excitement they dragged me in the lunchroom and we sat down, soon joined by the third member of this friendship group–Swimmer. Swimmer was in tears. Turns out that on the bus that morning Swimmer had said that Sparkles thought blah blah about Bird. Then Bird told Sparkles what Swimmer had said and Sparkles got mad that Swimmer was talking about her. And Sparkles said she didn’t say exactly what Swimmer said she did. And the story had been ballooning all day to the point where no one really knew who said what, what was said, or when it was said. But they were all mad and hurt. And all three were trying, really trying to express the knot of emotions they had inside, to tell each other what others did that hurt them, and end the pain. It was sweet, admirable and torturous.
For most of the rest of the lunch we talked about the situation, the need to forgive, the benefits of not talking about each other, what to do when a friend starts talking about another and they are not present. It was a good conversation.
BUT. The situation repeated itself this week. Bird said something about Swimmer to Sparkles who told Swimmer…..different words, different she saids. Same feelings. I need to talk to my daughter again.
The lunchtime conversation was good. But I didn’t name the sin. Gossip. My daughter thinks gossip is talking about celebrities or others that are far removed from you. But I think gossip is a regular occurrence among females, young and old alike. I certainly fall into its snares. Gossip is a nasty trap of Satan where our concern for others gets mixed up with our desire to talk to someone about something they will pay close attention to. And our resolve to not participate gets challenged by our desire to be part of the group or our need to vent.
|Image credit: Phaitoon|
Have you ever talked to your daughter about gossip? Defined it clearly? Given her strategies for avoiding it? Confessed when you have fallen into the sin of gossip? If your daughter is 8 or older, gossip is already a part of her school day. Time to have a serious conversation. If you talk about it now, you will have a basis for the future conversation when gossip is the cause of serious pain in your daughter’s life. And this will happen. Possibly tomorrow.
Points I plan to include in the next gossip chat include:
*Defining gossip. A good question to ask is, “Would I say this if the person I am talking about were present?” This question isn’t totally straight forward, but Bird and I can talk about the nuances. I plan to discuss how prayer requests can be gossip too.
*Talking about why people gossip: wanting to vent frustration, to manipulate an opinion or situation, to feel part of a group, to be considered “in the know.”
*Giving strategies for avoiding it: change the subject, do not respond, change the activity (want to play Life?), be blunt and honest (I don’t want to talk about this).
*Sharing God’s word. I want my daughter to know that it isn’t just me who doesn’t like gossip. And if your daughter is a younger tween, there are some great vocab words in these scriptures. (Sorry the English teacher in me can’t help it!) All scripture from the NIV.
- A perverse man stirs up conflict and a gossip separates close friends.–Proverbs 16:28,NIV
- Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.–Proverbs 11:12-13
- Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.–Proverbs 21:23
This conversation should just be the beginning of life-long conversations about taming the tongue. Don’t underestimate your tween. She will welcome the counsel, especially if it isn’t a conversation in response to something she did wrong. And if your daughter is twelve or younger, get these lessons in now, while you are still the most influential person in her life.
I need to go talk to my daughter some more but first, tell me, do you have strategies to help your daughter understand/avoid gossip?