The Disturbing Trend of Adults Gossiping About Children

Gossip:  idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others (from

Gossip:  It is never good.  It destroys people’s reputations.  I remember my father teaching me that all we have is our good name.  He taught me that it is important to live with integrity.  He also taught me that people love to gossip and I should stay out of it.  Talking about other people and their private affairs is one of life’s greatest temptations.  It is human nature to compare ourselves to others and a human foible that we cannot resist talking about each other’s lives.  It is hard to avoid listening to it and doing it.  As adults, we don’t do enough to stem the tide of gossip.  It is bad enough when one adult talks about another adult in a way that does harm.  More and more often during my parent or professional staff workshops, the topic of adults gossiping about children is raised.  Parents are upset that their children are victims.  Staff members are aghast at what they hear in their school hallways.  People ask me why they see more and more of this behavior.  My reply is always that I think that adults don’t seem to understand the harm they are doing.  It is a symptom of the fact that we forget that children deserve respect, privacy and consideration of their feelings.
Adults have a great many misconceptions about their own behavior when they are around children.  They think if you sit in the back of a room at a children’s event and talk, no one can hear them.  They think that their children will take advice when they don’t live that way themselves.  They think that when they talk about children to each other, there is no harm to the child. Children have a reputation.  Who are we to destroy them?   

Two adults are standing in a school hallway.  One adult says to the other, “Do you see that child?  I heard she plays rough and pushes the other kids around.”

A child walks by a group of adults in a playground.  “That boy over there never talks.  What’s up with that?  I wonder what the real issue is.”

“My friend said that that kid….”

I don’t know your life’s journey and you don’t know mine.  We also don’t know the whole picture of a child from the little snippets we get from observing isolated moments in their lives.  My heart goes out to the child who has self-esteem issues and then suffers further rejection because adults have spread rumors.  Parents do have a right to decide that, perhaps, their children should not socialize with another child.  They do not, however, have the right to malign the child.  Simply stop the playdates. Make your rules for your child.  Do what you feel is right without broadcasting it.  The old adage “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” should apply equally if not more to children who are still learning about socialization, behavior and expressing emotion. 


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Copyright 2014 © Cindy Terebush
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