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Hey, parents: Watch your words

This is my public service announcement. Parents, please stop gossiping about other people’s children. I was waiting in line at a coffee shop not too long ago and overheard a conversation between two mothers. It was not my intent to overhear, but they were talking so loudly that I’m not sure it is considered eavesdropping. Is it actually listening in when the conversation is so clear that another patron asked them to quiet down? That debate can be pursued at a different time. I only get 400 words.

It wasn’t a busy day and I was waiting to pick up my daughter when their conversation put a chill down my back. The conversation was mean-spirited from the time it caught my attention. Children’s names were tossed out like confetti, branding each one with labels that most people don’t use in private, let alone in a coffee shop. I have to admit that I thought at first these mothers were talking about some TV show drama. They were not.

I’m not a perfect parent and my children are the first to remind me of my mistakes. My husband and I have always tried to set a good example regarding the gossip train. If my children came home with a story, we would ask if there could be another reason for the other person’s behavior. Does the information being said make any sense? Could it be that (insert name here) is struggling at home?

I didn’t recognize these people, but I did approach them as I was leaving to tell them that I didn’t think a public place was the venue to vent their spleen about children. It was odd. It was as if the parents were the ones in high school and having a lunchtime Mean Girls Burn Book moment. It was an eye-opening experience that has allowed me the opportunity to make sure I’m walking my talk.

I do talk with my friends about different issues all the time. It is healthy to get advice. I’m also not suggesting that you stop paying attention to potentially dangerous situations involving your children. There is a difference between our children’s safety and adults embracing rumors. It’s easy to get caught in the whirlwind of teenage drama, but we also need to be the adults in the room.

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Time guidebook series. For family-friendly activities go to AdirondackFamilyTime.com

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