“The kids were so bad today. You won’t believe what they did.”
“Don’t tell her I told you this but…”
“He was acting like such a ____________ today!”
“Did I tell you what she did the other day? Oh man, it was awful”
Have you ever found yourself having a well-meaning, private conversation like one of those with your spouse, or maybe even a close friend? A friend recently asked if I considered venting to my husband about our children as in-house gossip. I sat on the idea, pondering it. Evaluating and searching my heart and words led me to the conclusion that, yes, at times I have unintentionally gossiped about my children to my husband. I am thankful for questions like these found in the beauty of community, of friendship; they challenge and inspire me to live more on mission.
I should start by saying I never considered venting to my husband as gossip, as he is a safe place to turn, to vent, to dump my thoughts and feelings. He cares about me, what’s on my heart and what happens in my day. Parenting intersects all of those spaces for me on a daily basis. I heard and embraced that sharing isn’t gossip if the person is part of the solution. He is definitely part of my solution process, but I wondered, does it begin to spoil relationships between him and the kids ? Am I building an unwinnable case against them? He’s already predisposed to my side because we are one flesh, one unit. Telling him my thoughts and feelings is healthy and normal, but do I cross this nearly invisible, hard to find line?
I have decided I need to exercise more caution. I should really evaluate if I am spoiling the well. Why am I sharing? Does he really need to hear about this? Does he really need to know how I feel about every conversation and interaction we have? Should I allow him some space to find things out in his way, through his lens, through their relationship? Shouldn’t he get to have his own interactions with the kids that day to make his own assessments?
I want to be sure I lead with good things. I’ve committed to remind him and speak often of the good things I encounter and see in my children and celebrate those, consequential or inconsequential, when he comes home. To talk about some wins or growth points I hear and see, even if small for that day. Good things must dominate. Celebration must be an integral part of our conversations.
I need to remember that rehearsing the bad exchanges or behaviors in people only reinforces my mentality, and maybe his, of this person. This creates and leaves toxic thoughts towards them imprinted in my brain. Do I want the worst of me being discussed or shared? If it makes me cringe to feel this way I need to remember my little people, and almost big people, would feel this way too. What I think about and talk about matters and leaves impressions.
I will try to tell events without initial assessments. It seems kinder to withhold my judgments, kinder to ask my husband how he views the children, the events, the discussions I am telling him about instead of drawing conclusions for him with my personal slant. Checking myself to see if I am being a fair story teller. Listening to his answer openly after I ask his perspective. He often has such a different view of the same words that I heard or actions I encountered. This is often why spouses are referred to as our better half. They have views or ideas that are different than ours, and I know I need a 2nd set of eyes for most situations.
I need to get on my knees and pray. God can handle all of it, and He already knows and loves my child more than anyone. He is my safe refuge for every messy corner of my heart and family. I won’t spoil God’s view of my children; He loves them unconditionally. I need no filter when I am here, on my knees.
I’m not talking about being fake, or hiding things. I’m just saying I want to implement caution going forward when talking to my spouse about our children. Caution to give my spouse the freedom and space to experience the kids from his own lens, not immediately from mine. Caution to allow him to know what’s on my heart, ensuring he knows the tenor of the home. I believe one of the beautiful things about marriage is the position the spouse holds to help the other expand how things are seen or perceived, even when it comes to our kids. I am thankful for the call to proceed with caution in this area.