PDA

View Full Version : A good friend or a gossip?



Perks
05-21-2008, 02:49 AM
I have a dilemma and I'm thinking you people are just who I need to ask, since it's not your red face at stake.

We have befriended a family recently who have daughters just the same age as ours. They're imports to the area like us, lots of fun, and we've gotten together about ten times over the last few months.

Their oldest daughter blabbed to my daughter a nugget of info about the mother, my friend, that's of an extremely sensitive and personal nature. To the tune that the mother would be mortified if she knew that other people are discussing this about her, especially via her nine-year-old daughter.

I'm having lunch with the mom tomorrow and I don't know whether or not to tell her. I think I'd want to know, but she's going to be very hurt, embarrassed, and upset at her daughter.

What do you think?

Silver King
05-21-2008, 02:57 AM
That's a tough one. I guess it depends on exactly what the issue is about; but I'd most likely remain silent about the knowledge lest she decides to kill the messenger.

ETA: It might not hurt to talk to your friend's daughter and tell her to keep her mouth shut about her mom's personal business.

Shweta
05-21-2008, 03:00 AM
Seems to me if the daughter's babbling her mother's secrets, the mother will find out soon enough.
And if she does and you didn't tell her, isn't that worse?

I guess it comes down to how you tell her, and it sounds to me like you're concerned about her, not gossipy.

mscelina
05-21-2008, 03:03 AM
ewwwwwwwwwwwww...the worst of the worst. The following advice is completely contigent upon the nature of what you've been told. If, for example, the daughter is saying something like "Mommy beats me." or "Mommy does drugs." this is what I *note that--I* would do.

Having been there before, I'd mention it--but offhandedly. One of my daughters has the nasty habit of misrepresenting things that happen in our family. I was at work one day and the mother of one of her friends came in.

"Meredith tells me that you're not going to allow her to go to college this winter," she said with a definite upturning of her well-bred nose. "That doesn't seem like a smart thing for a parent to do."

"Oh really?" I smiled at her. "Did Meredith tell you that her grades last semester culminated in a 0.0 GPA?"

Tell her. Nicely. In an age when even the slightest suspicion about a parent can result in governmental interference or worse, it would probably be in the best interests of mother and child.

SPMiller
05-21-2008, 03:04 AM
I can't think of any set of circumstances under which it would not be optimal to tell the mother as quickly as possible.

If the mother is a reasonable person, she won't take her anger out on you. If she isn't reasonable, well, she won't be a very good friend in the future.

And as Shweta said, the mother will find out eventually. Better sooner than later, to minimize possible damage--depending, of course, on the information's sensitivity.

TerzaRima
05-21-2008, 03:05 AM
If you like and respect these people, presumably you don't think the mom is going to go all medieval on the nine year old. She'll be upset, sure, but we've all had survived having angry parents. I'd tell your friend, in a manner that imparts your concern and the clear impression that the nine year old really did not know any better.

Perks
05-21-2008, 03:29 AM
the clear impression that the nine year old really did not know any better.Oh she knew better. That's the thing I think that's going to hurt the most. I'm not worried about her being angry with me. I just know she's going to be really upset.

It's nothing like her beating them. It is of an entirely adult nature, but not just harmless birds and bees stuff.

Thanks guys. I appreciate the feedback.

TerzaRima
05-21-2008, 03:42 AM
That's the thing I think that's going to hurt the most.

Yes, but her daughter is nine. My sense is that your friend probably had an affair or an abortion or something like that, and while a child that age can be told that certain things are family secrets, they can't be expected to appreciate the subtleties as to why, or why secret keeping is morally right in some instances and not others. I obviously have no idea as to the details, and I can see why your friend would be chagrined that the secret was told, but I can't imagine that the child did it to cause pain.

Silver King
05-21-2008, 03:42 AM
Come on, Perks, we need more information to go on here. Did the girl catch her mom in bed with another guy or something? Or another woman? A few juicy tidbits would help to better illustrate your dilemma so we can offer the best advice possible. ;)

Siddow
05-21-2008, 03:46 AM
PM the gossip to me and I'll let you know what I think you should do. :D

Mandy-Jane
05-21-2008, 03:58 AM
I'm going against all the advice given so far, and saying that you shouldn't say anything. It would cause pain and embarrassment for her and for you. She may never find out that her daughter has said something anyway. I don't know. That may be the option I'd take. But I'm gutless!

Perks
05-21-2008, 04:16 AM
She may never find out that her daughter has said something anyway. I don't know. Yeah, I've been trying to weigh that in, but if the daughter told my daughter, I'd be surprised if she hasn't told all of her little friends. She and my daughter aren't really very close. They spent time together on their own only about four times.


and I can see why your friend would be chagrined that the secret was told, but I can't imagine that the child did it to cause pain.No, you're likely right. She was most pleased about giving my daughter something to gape over, but I don't think she specifically set out to hurt her mother.

Gah. It's difficult.

robeiae
05-21-2008, 04:19 AM
Seems to me if the daughter's babbling her mother's secrets, the mother will find out soon enough.
And if she does and you didn't tell her, isn't that worse?

I guess it comes down to how you tell her, and it sounds to me like you're concerned about her, not gossipy.
Ditto.

"Listen Wilma, I need to tell you something because I think it's important that you know what's going on. Your daughter Pebbles told my daughter X. I don't know if it's true and I want you to know I don't care if it's true. But I thought you needed to know what your daughter was saying. I'd hate for this to get passed around to people you don't even know and for it to come back to you, causing you any pain or making you feel uncomfortable."

Perks
05-21-2008, 04:21 AM
Ditto.

"Listen Wilma, I need to tell you something because I think it's important that you know what's going on. Your daughter Pebbles told my daughter X. I don't know if it's true and I want you to know I don't care if it's true. But I thought you needed to know what your daughter was saying. I'd hate for this to get passed around to people you don't even know and for it to come back to you, causing you any pain or making you feel uncomfortable."That's about exactly the speech I've been rehearsing. Do you live in my brain, Rob?

robeiae
05-21-2008, 04:22 AM
Yes, 'cause of all the room...


:tongue

Perks
05-21-2008, 04:25 AM
I also have to put in the part that I'm not looking to have this come between Pebbles and Julia. Julia wasn't tattling, it just raised a bunch of questions.

Perks
05-21-2008, 04:26 AM
Yes, 'cause of all the room...


:tongue
Nice. Assbucket.

PattiTheWicked
05-21-2008, 04:30 AM
If it was me, I'd want to know my daughter was telling people my personal business. Not so I could punish her, but so I could talk to her about what it's okay to discuss with others and what isn't. I think Robeieiaiaieiieaoe's advice is right on the money.

Williebee
05-21-2008, 04:31 AM
"Assbucket"

You kiss your friends with that mouth? Is there a sign up sheet?

Is this the "worst case scenario"?

Your friend is mortified, reacts in anger and tells all of your shared acquaintances about the horrible person you are, and the lies you tell about her child. Some believe her, some don't.

Best case scenario?:

She's mortified and embarrassed that you've learned this about her. She puts a lock down on the kid. And you grow closer due to shared secrets.

Do you care enough about her to be that good a friend?

Good Luck!

Perks
05-21-2008, 04:34 AM
"Assbucket"

You kiss your friends with that mouth? Worse than that. I kiss everybody, c'mere.

Just don't tell my friend's daughter - it'll be all over.

P.H.Delarran
05-21-2008, 04:43 AM
because it sounds maybe like she shares these things for shock value and to gain attention (you mentioned she's new to the area) I do think you should mention that her daughter is sharing personal tidbits, but maybe you don't need to mention the details, unless she asks. which she probably will. I would. but she should respect that you didn't make a big deal about the grit of it.

eldragon
05-21-2008, 05:04 AM
This reminds me of something a friend of mine told me when I was a kid.

It seems her parents were "always" having sex on the couch, right in front of the kids.


And soon enough, they were having a late-in-life baby.

And to hear this revelation about the parents having sex on the couch, was shocking to me, at the age I was. "How could they? Right in front of the kids?"

But now that I'm grown, I think that the story was probably un-true. I can imagine that the parents were having sex on the couch, but they probably thought the kids were in bed or something. One kid heard something and told another kid, and they snuck up on mom and dad "doing it" on the couch. The rest is history.

But in my kid-mind, I imagined all kinds of scenarios.

So, Perks, chances are there are elements of truth in the story, and some elements of fiction created out of ignorance in the 9-year-old child's mind.

I think I'd just dismiss it. Or maybe I'd address it, but make it "light conversation."


Just my .02.

Silver King
05-21-2008, 05:07 AM
I was thinking of another angle just now that might be worth exploring. Is it possible your friend's daughter might be making up the story for whatever reason? I'm not doubting her disclosure (even though I have no idea what was imparted), but it wouldn't be unheard of for kids to create a tale for their own amusement while relishing the shock of their audience.

What if what she revealed never really happened?

ETA: Cross-posted with Pam 'cause I'm slow, though we seem to be of the same mind.

Perks
05-21-2008, 05:09 AM
So, Perks, chances are there are elements of truth in the story, and some elements of fiction created out of ignorance in the 9-year-old child's mind.

There's really only one element, but I've been thinking that the truth of the information actually isn't relevant to what I should or shouldn't do in this case. True or not, the response that her mother will reap is the same. I know my daughter didn't embellish, because she didn't know what it meant and came to me for an explanation.

Perks
05-21-2008, 05:09 AM
I was thinking of another angle just now that might be worth exploring. Is it possible your friend's daughter might be making up the story for whatever reason? I'm not doubting her disclosure (even though I have no idea what was imparted), but it wouldn't be unheard of for kids to create a tale for their own amusement while relishing the shock of their audience.

What if what she revealed never really happened?See above post. If she's saying it, my friend will be judged for it.

RumpleTumbler
05-21-2008, 05:29 AM
Wear the goldfish toes.

Nothing could be more embarrassing than that.

:e2tongue:

Perks
05-21-2008, 05:32 AM
You are heartless to scoff at my efforts to look nice.

Cthulhu
05-21-2008, 05:38 AM
I'd agree with what most have said, put it to them very cautiously. If you do it and stress that you're telling them not to be a gossip, but out of concern and a sense of friendship, then they'll have no reason whatsoever to freak out. Rather some minor embarrassment now between friends than major embarrassment later among strangers.

C.bronco
05-21-2008, 05:41 AM
You might want to just mention to the daughter that what she's saying might be personal, and to avoid sharing it until the mom gives the okay. Kids can be understanding.

RumpleTumbler
05-21-2008, 05:44 AM
You are heartless to scoff at my efforts to look nice.

You did look nice.

Orange piggies are hawt.

poetinahat
05-21-2008, 05:47 AM
I'm going to go against the grain here: No, I don't think you should tell her. No way.

(In absence of the details, this is a general assessment, of course; let's keep it that way. I'm only going to assume there aren't any legal implications -- for example, if she's gossipping about a murder, then ignore this post.)

Yes, she *will* find out soon enough; best thing to do, I think, is not to mention it again - unless you have an opportunity to tell the girl she shouldn't be blabbing, and that you're not interested.

A few reasons:

1) The girl wouldn't tell you if she didn't want you to pass it on. The best way to stop her is not to help spread the dirt.

2) Never mind your intentions: if you tell, the mom will look at you differently if she knows you know, and she might think of you as another gossip, albeit a well-meaning one. She'll never know if you've actually told anyone else. If you keep it to yourself, and she hears it from someone else, it's only the daughter who can be to blame.

3) Again, never mind your intentions: it's between the mom and the daughter. It's a family matter. I'm guessing that, despite your intentions, they'll think of you as a meddler.

4) Your daughters are watching what you do, and they'll conclude that they should do the same. That's the most important thing, I think.

5) eta: What Pam and Dino said. It might not be true, which would be a calamity for you.

I hope it's all sorted out without your having to make a move. Good luck!

TerzaRima
05-21-2008, 06:09 AM
Poet has some good points. I guess it depends on a) how close you are to this woman and b) the nature of the dirt.

TerzaRima
05-21-2008, 06:10 AM
Oh damn, the Abominable Snowman is in my sig again.

Writer???
05-21-2008, 10:12 AM
Ditto what Rob said. Don't be sucked into playing the kids game. It was her whole purpose for telling.

And people who think nine year olds wouldn't, can't, or aren't capable of doing things deliberately to hurt their parents just don't understand kids. Espescially little girls who get angry. It has been my personal experience, involving most of the people I know, that girls carry a grudge over things with their mother or father, and most well into adulthood. When are they likely to act in a rash, hurtful manner over such things? When they are young and immature of course. Not when they are older and have the sense and maturity to deal with it from a more reasoned platform. So yes, it could be entirely to hurt the mother.

Also, it's only been a few months and like ten visits I think you said. Well, you may be assuming more of a friendship than actually exists. I for one make friends fast and feel close and comfortable with people, but many times it's been one sided and I find that they don't feel we are as close as I thought. A few months is not really a long time to build a deep, sharing relationship. Just something to think about. Feel free to ignore. You have to live with it, and you seem to have a good head and be a caring person, do what your heart tells you, with good motives, and no matter what happens, we still love ya.

JJ Cooper
05-21-2008, 12:37 PM
Sit down and have a long chat with the girl (the blab). Come up with a good reason for the two of you to be alone for a few minutes. Then have a serious discussion about the damage she is doing to her mother without her knowledge. Play up the guilt.

There is an absolute reason she is doing this. The most likely is an acceptance into your family. She sounds like she needs to be accepted (has the family moved around a lot?). Usually when when kids confide something of this nature, it is an issue of fitting into a group. If you explain that she does not need to do this as your family has already accepted all of them as friends, then it should get through.

Then again, I may be wrong and you'll blow it for everyone (kidding - you'll do fine whatever you choose).

JJ

HeronW
05-21-2008, 01:14 PM
Kids say the darnedest things--for the hellofit, for revenge, or for a 'can you top this' exchange bonding. Often they miss background info or extenuating circumstances that mitigate damages.

Depending on how close you are to this woman, your comfort level, her comfort level, does she take hinky news well, etc, would tilt whether you should tell her or not.

Perks
05-21-2008, 04:01 PM
You might want to just mention to the daughter that what she's saying might be personal, and to avoid sharing it until the mom gives the okay. Kids can be understanding.Yeah, DEFINITELY did that. It prompted a really wonderful discussion between my daughter and I, albeit one I didn't think I was going to have to have for at least a couple of years.

NeuroFizz
05-21-2008, 04:27 PM
My take is this--if you think the "damage" is largely done, let it be. If you think there is the potential for additional "damage," how could you possibly sit by and let that damage occur to someone you call a good friend?

And by all means, say something to the daughter about what is appropriate news and what is inappropriate news.

Perks
05-21-2008, 04:34 PM
Yeah, I'd really like a chance to talk to her, but I don't know how that will happen. See, part of the problem is that my friend will not only be judged for 'what she's done' but for the decision to tell her nine-year-old daughter, in detail, about things most nine-year-olds have no need to know.

I know that my friend would not want this discussed. I don't know if it's too late. I do feel like she could do some damage control at home, if she knew what her daughter was using as cool-leverage with the clueless kids.

eldragon
05-21-2008, 05:08 PM
Perks, you're a darned tease.


:)

Joycecwilliams
05-21-2008, 05:20 PM
I have a dilemma and I'm thinking you people are just who I need to ask, since it's not your red face at stake.

We have befriended a family recently who have daughters just the same age as ours. They're imports to the area like us, lots of fun, and we've gotten together about ten times over the last few months.

Their oldest daughter blabbed to my daughter a nugget of info about the mother, my friend, that's of an extremely sensitive and personal nature. To the tune that the mother would be mortified if she knew that other people are discussing this about her, especially via her nine-year-old daughter.

I'm having lunch with the mom tomorrow and I don't know whether or not to tell her. I think I'd want to know, but she's going to be very hurt, embarrassed, and upset at her daughter.

What do you think?

Nine year olds look at the world differently than the rest of us... Have you thought about having a polite little chat with her? You don't even have to touch on the issue at hand, gently explain her the boundries of what should and/or shouldn't be said in "public."

That being said, if it is something that would be causing abuse and/or neglect of the children... you may want to report to social services..

You may want to mention to your friend that you had a little chat about boundries with her daughter since your heard the daughter mention something that whether true or not should not be repeated outside the family.

Good Luck.

Perks
05-21-2008, 05:59 PM
You may want to mention to your friend that you had a little chat about boundries with her daughter since your heard the daughter mention something that whether true or not should not be repeated outside the family.

Holy crap. That'd be harder than just telling my friend what she said. I can't imagine that it would come off as anything other than "I parented for you since you're falling down on the job."

Gulp.

Lol!

Oh dear.

Joycecwilliams
05-21-2008, 08:24 PM
Holy crap. That'd be harder than just telling my friend what she said. I can't imagine that it would come off as anything other than "I parented for you since you're falling down on the job."

Gulp.

Lol!

Oh dear.

Well I wouldn't look at that way. If a child is at your house or your child is at someone elses... they have to be parented in some form or another or the kids have no supervision.

My grandson goes over to our neighbors and plays with their son, and vice versa. If he did something he wasn't suppose to while there... I wouldn't take offense if my neighbor corrected him and vice versa.. I use this as example because my neighbor and I are friendly but not close friends...

For example last year I took the kids swimming, and the neighbor kid went deeper than he should have... I had to tell him he shouldn't be there... and then I told his mom about it...

TerzaRima
05-21-2008, 10:13 PM
Perks' situation makes me remember when, in medical school, I babysat the young son of my anatomy professor. Like a lot of faculty brats, this little boy was precocious, quite verbal, very comfortable with adults. His father was divorced and dated a lot.

One night, as Dr S was heading out the door, little (we'll call him Josh) whispered to me, "I've got something really COOL to show you as soon as Dad is gone." Alrighty then. When the coast was clear, Josh scooted up to his dad's bedroom and came downstairs, proudly bearing....a large, obviously, um, well thumbed stack of Penthouse magazines. Which he then proceeded to page through in front of me, occasionally making inquiries of me such as, "Eww! What's that big dog doing to the lady?"

Obviously, possessing porn is no big reputation ruining secret, but this whole thread did recall the conversation Josh and I had about that--there was no way I was going to tell my professor that his kid had found his porn stash.

Another thing it brought to mind though, is that over the years I knew him, this little boy mentioned lots of things to me about his home life and his father's sex life that I did not need to hear--he was like a little geyser of oversharing, even for a kid--and it's only from my perspective as a pediatrician now that I wonder if he was doing so in order to process knowing too much. And that brings me back around to your daughter's friend, and her motives for talking about this.

Anyway.

Shadow_Ferret
05-21-2008, 10:27 PM
I can't believe how many people want Perks to say something.

The best defense is denial. Always. You can never be held accountable if you always say, "Never heard about it."

WendyNYC
05-21-2008, 10:29 PM
Lawd, no. I wouldn't say anything.

Unless someone is in danger, MYOB.

Sarita
05-21-2008, 10:41 PM
Lawd, no. I wouldn't say anything.

Unless someone is in danger, MYOB.
Totally. Like Rob said, unless it's a legal issue, I would just let it go.

Did you have lunch with her? Did you dish? :D

Perks
05-21-2008, 10:54 PM
Well I wouldn't look at that way. If a child is at your house or your child is at someone elses... they have to be parented in some form or another or the kids have no supervision.

My grandson goes over to our neighbors and plays with their son, and vice versa. If he did something he wasn't suppose to while there... I wouldn't take offense if my neighbor corrected him and vice versa.. I use this as example because my neighbor and I are friendly but not close friends...

For example last year I took the kids swimming, and the neighbor kid went deeper than he should have... I had to tell him he shouldn't be there... and then I told his mom about it...Ah. That makes sense.

Mela
05-21-2008, 10:56 PM
It's all in the approach, like any good PR strategy.

"This isn't easy for me to say (and let's face it, it isn't) but my sense of fairness tells me I should say something to you, out of respect to you and your family."

BUT: Are you sure your daughter got HER facts right? Could the tables be turned on your daughter, whom the other woman might see as a gabby mouth?

Just offering it up, not knowing your daughter, whom I'm sure is lovely.

samgail
05-21-2008, 11:00 PM
Yeah, DEFINITELY did that. It prompted a really wonderful discussion between my daughter and I, albeit one I didn't think I was going to have to have for at least a couple of years.

I think this is great and this is one aspect you should consider when deciding. The mother is a grownup and can deal with this. Your daughter confided in you and that is important. Do what it takes to make sure you keep the lines of communication open with her. Just what i think...

ETA what Mela said, make sure your daughter is not caught in the crossfire between little girl and Mom.

Perks
05-21-2008, 11:03 PM
I did have the lunch and I did talk to her. I think the details I've left out here were the deciding factor. Sorry, I'm not trying to talk in circles and be annoying! I decided from my own thoughts and some things said here that what happened between her daughter and mine really needed some damage-control. My friend is quite sensitive and worried what people think. This really could (and could still) come back to be quite humiliating for her. I figured that it would be far better to hear it from me than someone who was really tweaked off about it. My two motivations were for her to be able to safeguard her privacy and to get a chance to impress upon her daughter the ramifications of what she says to others.

It went really, really well. She was so thankful and it wasn't really uncomfortable for either of us, except that she's really, really regretting the TMI she's shared with someone too young to resist the urge to gossip. That horse is out of the barn, but she may be able to corral some future problems.

Thanks, guys. I appreciate that you're always here.

Perks
05-21-2008, 11:05 PM
BUT: Are you sure your daughter got HER facts right? Could the tables be turned on your daughter, whom the other woman might see as a gabby mouth?

Yeah, she got it right. She came to me to ask for clarification, because she didn't know what the other girl was talking about. She had to lay it out to me unembellished, because she didn't know anything to embroider it with.

Perks
05-21-2008, 11:07 PM
I think this is great and this is one aspect you should consider when deciding. The mother is a grownup and can deal with this. Your daughter confided in you and that is important. Do what it takes to make sure you keep the lines of communication open with her. Just what i think...

ETA what Mela said, make sure your daughter is not caught in the crossfire between little girl and Mom.Yeah, we both want to make sure that the girls know that all's well and so they won't be upset with each other.

Perks
05-21-2008, 11:22 PM
And you know what's really funny? My daughter was so hung up on a certain aspect of the conversation that she forgot to even mention to me another facet that was at least as damaging to my friend's reputation. It was another term she didn't understand in context and completely forgot to mention.

My friend's daughter really need to be brought up short on this one. Her mom has changed her ways, but has quite the colorful past.

Siddow
05-22-2008, 02:25 AM
Was it about snowblowing?

Tossing salads?

Huh? :D

poetinahat
05-22-2008, 02:35 AM
Very, very glad it worked out well for you both!

WendyNYC
05-22-2008, 03:02 AM
I didn't realize it was the mom who told this to her daughter. So yes, it was good you told her. It's her own fault. She really shouldn't be sharing quite so much with a 9 year old.

Perks
05-22-2008, 03:04 AM
I didn't realize it was the mom who told this to her daughter. So yes, it was good you told her. It's her own fault. She really shouldn't be sharing quite so much with a 9 year old.And that's the whole story, really. It's a weird situation to have seen, but I've done what I can. Now I just have to give my child some brain bleach and all will be well. Lol!

Thanks everyone!

robeiae
05-22-2008, 03:08 AM
So, what was the gossip? Was your friend romantically involved with Boy George, or something?

SPMiller
05-22-2008, 04:24 AM
It sounds like "nonstandard" sexual activity to me. Probably something boring/pedestrian such as polyamory or BDSM or what have you. I'm content to assume that it's much less exciting than my imagination worked it up to be ;)

In any case, glad it turned out well.

PattiTheWicked
05-22-2008, 04:46 AM
You know, this does bring up an interesting point, and that is "how much is too much to share with your kids?"

Let this be a lesson to all of us: don't ever fess up to stuff you don't want your kids to tell the neighbors.

Carole
05-22-2008, 04:49 AM
Darnit! I always come in after the cake and ice cream are gone!

I do think you did the right thing and I know it must have been really scary to open up that topic. Good on you for even caring in the first place! And the daughter now understands that when she blabs, she may very well get busted.

Carole
05-22-2008, 04:50 AM
You know, this does bring up an interesting point, and that is "how much is too much to share with your kids?"

Let this be a lesson to all of us: don't ever fess up to stuff you don't want your kids to tell the neighbors.
Yeah, I learned that one the hard way except that it wasn't the neighbors that my boys told. It was my MOM! Yes I nearly died, thankyouverymuch.