30 Apr
Talking About Other People’s Children

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

Yesterday I was sitting with a group of moms and they were talking about helping out at school and some of the difficult personalities they face with some of the children. I participated by saying one little girl doesn’t like to listen to my direction. That was the extent of what I said and I didn’t say it with a mean tone, just matter of fact. I later realized her aunt was nearby and may have heard my comment.

Should I approach the aunt and apologize? I do not know her that well but she is someone I like and respect. I didn’t say anything terribly rude but I do realize, in general, it is best to not talk about other children.

Signed,

Possible Foot in Mouth

_________________________________

Dear Possible Foot,

Wow.

You know I’ve heard some things in my day, but this one really takes the cake.

I’m just going to take a deep breath and give you the benefit of the doubt.  I will assume that you had an adverse reaction to some medication or maybe you were temporarily possessed by an evil spirit.

Because how else can you explain that awful thing you said about this poor woman’s niece?

I’m just glad that the whole incident passed nonviolently.  Although I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some litigation in your future over this issue.

Of course there’s another way of looking at it.  That what you said is really no big deal.  That it was not mean-spirited, untrue or hurtful.  It seems that “doesn’t like to listen to my direction” isn’t a terrible thing to say about someone. It’s not like you said that she was a future Real Housewife or something.  In my opinion, you should let it go.

You are not certain if the aunt heard you and if she did, she may have just taken it in stride. It’s possible that she  may have even nodded in recognition.  If you raise it with her, you may have to repeat what you said about her niece, which, according to my math and your sensibilities would leave you with potentially two feet in your mouth.

If you feel that you absolutely must say something to the aunt, go with something nonchalant like “That was some chat we had about the different personalities in the class!” or “If they made a movie about our school, they’d definitely cast Angelina Jolie as you.”

But I do think it’s important to recognize the discomfort you felt over this relatively minor gossip scenario. So listen to your gut and don’t gossip about other people’s children.  Except behind their backs, like everyone else.

Take care,

Marinka, TMH

 

 

7 Responses to “Talking About Other People’s Children”

04.30.12#1

Comment by andy.

Ten to one the aunt was feeling a little validated. Sibling rivalry and “my kids are better than her kids,” and all that.

And if she goes to her sister/brother, whatever, to report, I mean, teachers are human beings. That’s my take. I’ve caught wind of outright dis-respectful behavior by my kids’ teachers but I don’t make a big deal because I think teachers are, many of them, saints for dealing with so many kids in a day.

04.30.12#2

Comment by Desperate Dietwives.

As the loving aunt of two adorable but pretty vivacious kids, I would advise you not to worry about it.
I adore my nephew and niece, but I am fully aware of their faults, just as I’m able to dicern between a mean-spirited and a fair comment coming from the outside.

Anyway if you feel uncomfortable, just learn the lesson for next time and always talk about other people as if they were around, hearing you.

Don’t go confronting the aunt, instead: unless she comes up with the topic herself, it’s 10 to 1 that she didn’t hear or didn’t think it a big deal.

🙂

04.30.12#3

Comment by Alex@LateEnough.

I would hate you forever for talking in a group of moms about my kid or my niece if my sister had children because I would assumed what I heard was only a little bit of viciousness that was said. I also would spend the rest of my days defaming you and wondering aloud how your children will survive your parenting. I would appreciate you apologizing and then I would just concentrate on hating all the other moms in the group. Probably.

04.30.12#4

Comment by Plano Mom.

Is it possible that your discomfort is more with participating in a discussion with mean spirited undertones? Because that’s the only way I can take offense to what you said. If the other comments were a bit mean-spirited, then I’d still think of your comment as a reasonable, kind way to participate in the conversation while trying to steer it in another direction.

04.30.12#5

Comment by vodka tonic.

Lesson learned – just keep it closed. There are vicious mothers at my kid’s school. They badmouth everything from mom’s fashion to kid’s probable IQ. I try to make myself as visible (and silent) as possible there.

05.01.12#6

Comment by Big ol' B with a capital B.

I doubt it’s a big deal. And I wouldn’t bring it up unless the aunt does. However, I would steer clear of that certain group of bad-mouthing adults. How’s that go?
“Tell me what company you keep and I’ll tell you what you are.” No matter if you participate in the discussion or not, just being there is enough for people to assume you are a bad-mouther. And you don’t need nor want that. Find more positive people to hang out with. Life is too short to hang with judgmental/negative people.

07.01.12#7

Comment by Asanderson.

Sorry, but none of you have any business talking about other people’s children. You all might as well put on chicken costumes because I can hear the clucking from here! I have a son who is special needs and one time I heard a fellow “chicken” talking about him. I was seething because she didn’t know him, she didn’t know me, and if she had something to say about my son, she needs to SAY IT TO MY FACE LIKE A GROWNUP. Maybe then I could have given the idiot a simplified description of his diagnosis so her little chicken brain could understand. Grow up and get a life. You are an adult–not a sixth grader!

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