A lot of moms vent. Guilty.
If I have a child who is driving me nuts and I don't know what to do, I whine to a friend, neighbor, stranger in the grocery store — anyone who will validate my frustrations or my choice of parental punishment. I'm not sure that those venting sessions truly solve the problems. It might make me feel a bit justified for the moment, but that feeling is only temporary, though. I still have to live with the kid who pooped through outfit number three in one day/lost my favorite shirt, brought home an F on her report card, shut her sister's hand in the door for the second time in 30 minutes, won't stop screaming and let me sleep, etc.
Here are a few reasons I have to remind myself about for not venting to others in the heat of emotion about my kids:
- Those people to whom you vent might form a negative impression about your child based on your ranting, which could create problems for that child later on. The analogy I think of is one I got from Dr. Laura — never complain about your husband to your mother. You may forgive and forget, but your mother (bless her heart) may judge your husband by that one conversation for years. The same holds true for people your child knows (or will know eventually).
- Your child may hear you. This has happened to me a few times. My child hears me saying something about them to a friend or family member and they are hurt. I don't know how to repair that kind of trust breakdown other than ask them to forgive me and try not to do it again.
- You're teaching poor coping skills to your child. If you don't deal with problems directly, how will your child? If you discuss a frustration about someone with everyone else but that person, you can often make the situation much worse. Dealing directly with the problem is tough, but something all children (and grownups) should learn to do. I want my kids to learn this skill for their school-aged problems before they get into more real-world problems.
- It's not nice. This is probably the most important one. Kids are real people, too. Even if the baby can't understand you, it's best not to complain about their behavior incessantly. Asking for help for something is totally acceptable and necessary even, to get feedback on how to improve. But, we need to treat our little ones (and even our big ones -- teens are sometimes the hardest) with kindness and respect we expect them to show us and others.