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RoseRed135

The "Gossip" Line - Where is it drawn?

72 posts in this topic

A friend of mine, recently had a conflict w/ her ODS and ODIL a few days before Christmas.. From what she told me, one word led to another, and what started as a mild (she thought) disagreement, ended up w/ DIL proclaiming, "We won't be there for Christmas! And you'll never see these kids again!"

Friend's DH immediately called DIL to defend friend, but to no avail. Since friend's DSs and DILs and families all gather at her house on Christmas, the other DSs were told about what was happening and also began calling, texting ODS/ODIL to argue, plead, etc. that they make up w/ MIL, come on Christmas, etc. No real surprise, this, apparently, led to arguments between ODS/ODIL and the rest of the DSs/DILs, some worse than others.

Apparently, too, ODS/ODIL haven't spoken to any of the others for over a week since then and aren't answering messages of any kind (vmail, email, text, social media PMs or whatever). I tried to tell friend about the TO concept, but I don't think she "heard" me.

But what I'm getting to here is that, according to my friend, they are all still talking about this (ok, it's new/fresh), as well as speaking about it to others (including me, obviously). I'm hearing a lot of, "My sister suggested..." and MDS' BFF said..."  And I'm wondering to what degree this is "normal" sharing/confiding/advice-seeking and to what degree it's just "gossip," as has often been mentioned on these boards.

Is it par for the course for all the other DSs and DILs to still be calling, messaging, etc. each other, back & forth about this situation? Does the fact that it's happening to all of them "save" these convos from being "gossip?"

How about their discussing the situation w/ friends and family? In fact, more specifically, should I continue to provide an ear for friend regarding this rift or start to bean dip (change the subject) next time she brings it up? Or??

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WOW...I do understand the friend sharing with the rest of the family (in a way) but, if this had happened in the middle of March instead of December, would it have been as news worthy?

By just keeping talking about it among the group, they are keeping it fresh.  I can't help but think it should have stayed between the mother and son/DIL as any squabble should.  It doesn't sound very "adult" to me.

I think I'd try to opt out of listening to any more, but I don't have any advise to give either.

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The mom in this situation was in a tight spot. When the family who is upset doesn't show, an explanation will be asked for. What is she supposed to do, lie to her other children?   This would make matters far worse. If she says DIL is mad and won't come doesn't that really put a damper on Christmas?   The mom in this situation can't win.  The other kids are looking out for their mom and probably want to see the whole family together, so they are hurt too.

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"They have other plans."  It works.

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When we are hurt or offended it's really easy to play a bigger victim for all the world to see. And it comes out very gossip-y. Sister & I kept our squabbles away from our mom because she played both sides against the middle and trash talked us both behind our backs to whomever would listen. Ya...no. 

The pragmatic in me generally keeps me away from much of that gossip-y stuff, although Sister and I recapped the Bratty Cousin adventure for my niece the other night. She was appalled at some of the things BC had done...so I can be guilty.

I'm hoping my AC/CIL never come at with "you'll never see these kids again"...because they'll get stony silence in return. DD & I had a spat a few years ago resulting in a very short TO...#1GB wanted to see us...so she called, we talked, moved past it...and the kid was none the wiser. She never threatened to keep him from us...

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I grew up in a time and place where people spoke freely- I could tell my girlfriends "anything" and they could share "anything" with me- I've always loved a good story and listening- My youngest is a chatterbox, my middle child plays their cards close to chest while the oldest is like one of those old glass barometers that gently bubbles up when responding to atmospheric pressure- I think communicating is the only path we know regarding getting to know one another, of working through issues and helping each other out in the process and ourselves as well- Gossiping, to me, is saying something about someone else with the intent "to be mean", it has no actual assessment value to it, it comes from whatever ugly place that created it-

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I think where your friend went wrong was when she involved her other sons/DILs in her conflict with this DS/DIL.  She didn't need to tell her other sons/DILs about this conflict.  It was between her and her DS/DIL.  She could have just said that DS/DIL will not be at Christmas this year.  She also didn't need to involve her DH and have him get on the phone and call DIL.  That never works.  It only makes the problem worse. 

If your friend asks, I would tell her how - by clucking to her other DS's/DIL's about her conflict with this DS/DIL - she caused this drama to really take on a life of its own, and that she owes her DS/DIL an apology.  

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I can't imagine how much worse your friend has made things, by everyone getting involved, and appearing to gang up on the one couple to force them into doing what your friend wanted.

She's taken what might have been a repairable situation and blown it to Kingdom Come.

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2 hours ago, BSW said:

I think where your friend went wrong was when she involved her other sons/DILs in her conflict with this DS/DIL.  She didn't need to tell her other sons/DILs about this conflict.  It was between her and her DS/DIL.  She could have just said that DS/DIL will not be at Christmas this year.  She also didn't need to involve her DH and have him get on the phone and call DIL.  That never works.  It only makes the problem worse. 

If your friend asks, I would tell her how - by clucking to her other DS's/DIL's about her conflict with this DS/DIL - she caused this drama to really take on a life of its own, and that she owes her DS/DIL an apology.  

About the bolded - TBF, friend's argument w/ ODS/ODIL was on the phone. DH may have overheard it. IDK how close by he was.

But as for the rest of it, I get what you're saying.

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Posted (edited)

Unless it's being asked for advice or opinion and If it is said in a way to not making something better, it's gossip.

Edited by Cupcake55

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9 hours ago, nonna23 said:

The mom in this situation was in a tight spot. When the family who is upset doesn't show, an explanation will be asked for. What is she supposed to do, lie to her other children?   This would make matters far worse. If she says DIL is mad and won't come doesn't that really put a damper on Christmas?   The mom in this situation can't win. 

Hmmm... I agree both that my friend was "in a tight spot" and that she would have done better to simply say, "They have other plans." But IDK if people always think things through to that degree when they're upset. Does she get a pass for that, people? Or not?

I'm also wondering what the other DSs and DILs would think if they eventually found out there was more to this than just "other plans" - if, for example, they spoke to ODS/ODIL and they said, "Huh? That's not what happened." Would they then feel that their mom lied to them, as nonna mentions? Am I looking too far into this or can it be trickier than it seems at first glance?

8 hours ago, SueSTx said:

"They have other plans."  It works.

 

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I won't  can't  lie and other plans is too much of a stretch for me.  I would say minor disagreement since that's true

 How much of this is on the brothers and sisters who took it upon themselves to escalate this. I think at least some.  This.  Isn't  all on the mil.

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If I invite my AC to my home and they simply don't wanna...they have other plans, so why not say any one that was invited and chose not to attend have other plans?

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To say "other plans" at Christmas? and anyone thinks that wouldn't signal an argument to the other AC? I can't imagine just saying "they have other plans" would float in my family. I think I would have to explain more than that and also defend the non attending AC, at the least to say that it's their choice and maybe they need some time and I wouldn't want them to feel the family was ganging up on them.

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1 hour ago, RoseRed135 said:

Hmmm... I agree both that my friend was "in a tight spot" and that she would have done better to simply say, "They have other plans." But IDK if people always think things through to that degree when they're upset. Does she get a pass for that, people? Or not?

I'm also wondering what the other DSs and DILs would think if they eventually found out there was more to this than just "other plans" - if, for example, they spoke to ODS/ODIL and they said, "Huh? That's not what happened." Would they then feel that their mom lied to them, as nonna mentions? Am I looking too far into this or can it be trickier than it seems at first glance?

 

This disagreement is no one's business but your friend's and this DS/DIL's. Further, "They have other plans" is not a lie. 

Sometimes it is not the initial conflict that damages relationships, it is the aftermath and how it is handled that does. 

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The DIL said 'you'll never see these kids again' and the MIL has panicked and is hurt.  What she thought was a minor argument has blown up massively.  I think its normal in families to talk and get other people's opinions and look for support or insight.  She probably thought her DH may have been able to smooth things over.

They both need to apologize.  I know people say not to gossip but in reality I don't know one family who doesn't do this and doesn't talk about family issues with one another. 

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8 hours ago, BSW said:

Sometimes it is not the initial conflict that damages relationships, it is the aftermath and how it is handled that does. 

So true! In fact, in this case, if friend hadn't told anyone else or if everyone had just chilled for a few days, maybe DIL would have softened. But now, she's more likely, IMO, to dig her heels in... sigh... I'm hoping that they can patch this up, eventually, but IDK.

 

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, Layla said:

The DIL said 'you'll never see these kids again' and the MIL has panicked and is hurt.  What she thought was a minor argument has blown up massively. Yes, could be if DIL hadn't dropped the CO bomb, friend wouldn't have told everyone or would have been more laidback about it ("Let them have some space," etc.) IDK for sure, but maybe. I think its normal in families to talk and get other people's opinions and look for support or insight.  She probably thought her DH may have been able to smooth things over. Also, isn't it par for the course that spouses share incidents w/ each other? Not to mention that a CO would, most likely, impact DH, too.

They both need to apologize.  I know people say not to gossip but in reality I don't know one family who doesn't do this and doesn't talk about family issues with one another.

That's certainly the case in my FOO (and DH's). In fact, I've found that trying to avoid the family grapevine can irritate some family members and so, possibly damage my relationship w/ them. They think I'm being a "Pollyanna" (not in a good way). Or if they're upset w/ another relative, they think I'm "taking' the other one's "side." I've found I have to at least listen for a while - then I can bean dip, etc. 

Same w/ my friend. I think I can "opt out of listening to any more," at this point, as Sue suggests. But if I hadn't listened at all, I believe she would have been bewildered and hurt. Sometimes, it seems there's a fine line in these situations.

 

Edited by RoseRed135

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But due to all the family "talk" it has now gone beyond the initial spur of the moment "you will never see my kids again" into a standoff 'them' against 'us'.  What has all this "tell the whole truth" managed to do except drive a wedge in this family?

If my other plans are to simply stay away for the holidays...then I did have other plans.  What isn't true about that?  If the sibling ask further questions my answer is, "you'll have to ask them".

My FOO might be the only one who doesn't know the rest of the family business...and am I so glad.  If there is something I can physically do to help in a family crisis, please tell.  If the situation calls for prayer, please tell.  But, if you only need time to tend to your private issues in private...I am so glad you didn't involve me.

I had an old boss to share what her lovely stepmother told her when she first got married.  "Please don't come to me and share your private spat.  You will kiss and make up, forgive and move on with your honeymoon.  Nobody will be kissing me and I won't forget."

It's kinda like an article in the newspaper.  The first story is on the front page and then when the whole story comes out, the retraction is on the page with the want ads and nobody even sees it, so the first impression stands.

When a family keeps separate issues separate it sets a president that this family doesn't tell all.  These parents should respect their son and DIL enough to keep their siblings out of this argument.  The siblings will also understand because in the past, everybody has been kept out of their disagreement.  When a family is constantly sharing/gossiping everybody in the family knows that everybody knows everybody's business.  Maybe this is 'normal' within this family, but not with their spouses and there in may lie the problem that originally brought on the "you will never see my kids again".

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    Sorry Rose, my keyboard froze up and I deleted my post so I hide yours.  I will try to finish my story here.    

          39 minutes ago, SueSTx said:

*****True Story*****

In 2010 when my 80 something mother had open heart surgery, all but one sibling was at the hospital.  My youngest brother decided it was time to "bring some issues to the rest of us"  they were feeling mistreated.  My youngest sister told him to take it to mothers Saturday morning and we would all sit down and talk it out.

My brother brought up a small issue within their family.  We all looked at each other and said, we didn't know that.  He brought up several other small things with the same result.  My baby sister being hotter headed even than me went first.  She told of a medical issue within her family.  Nobody knew.  

continue

We went around the table and we all had similar stories which nobody else knew.  Yes we all had told mother, but none of us had 'asked' her to pass it on to the siblings.  Some medical issues she had shared within the family and yes, we had ask her to share and she did.

The moral of this story (if there is one) only the brother that complained hadn't realized that you had to ask (or give permission) mother to share for her to do so.  This brother had and still has the least amount of contact with the family.  We are trying to follow his wishes.  The rest of us knew that anything we told mother that wasn't illegal she kept to herself.  If personal she might not even tell Daddy.  

I try to follow mothers example.  The few times I have shared something about one of my AC with the other, it has come back to bite me in the butt and their relationship with each other has suffered.  

Maybe as siblings if we have something we want shared with each other, we need to be responsible for communicating it ourselves.  Maybe that is what mother was trying to promote by staying out of the sibling relationships.

                                                                            

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Just now, SueSTx said:

    Sorry Rose, my keyboard froze up and I deleted my post so I hide yours.  I will try to finish my story here.    

          39 minutes ago, SueSTx said:

*****True Story*****

In 2010 when my 80 something mother had open heart surgery, all but one sibling was at the hospital.  My youngest brother decided it was time to "bring some issues to the rest of us"  they were feeling mistreated.  My youngest sister told him to take it to mothers Saturday morning and we would all sit down and talk it out.

My brother brought up a small issue within their family.  We all looked at each other and said, we didn't know that.  He brought up several other small things with the same result.  My baby sister being hotter headed even than me went first.  She told of a medical issue within her family.  Nobody knew.  

continue

We went around the table and we all had similar stories which nobody else knew.  Yes we all had told mother, but none of us had 'asked' her to pass it on to the siblings.  Some medical issues she had shared within the family and yes, we had ask her to share and she did.

The moral of this story (if there is one) only the brother that complained hadn't realized that you had to ask (or give permission) mother to share for her to do so.  This brother had and still has the least amount of contact with the family.  We are trying to follow his wishes.  The rest of us knew that anything we told mother that wasn't illegal she kept to herself.  If personal she might not even tell Daddy.  

I try to follow mothers example.  The few times I have shared something about one of my AC with the other, it has come back to bite me in the butt and their relationship with each other has suffered.  

Maybe as siblings if we have something we want shared with each other, we need to be responsible for communicating it ourselves.  Maybe that is what mother was trying to promote by staying out of the sibling relationships.

                                                                            

So hear you about the computer, Sue!

Sorry about your brother who has distanced himself, Sue. Glad that you all respect his wishes though. Sorry about the few mistakes you've made w/ your sibs over the years, too (I'm sure I've made more), but I take it you learned from them - and from your (very wise, IMO) mom.

@ All - One rule I live by w/ my DDs is that I never tell one the other one's business (exception would be if it were necessary due to an emergency, etc.). If one of them wants the other to know, they'll tell each other fast enough. (In fact, they often tell each other this/that before telling me :lol:)

But those are private matters that they're not likely to find out about, unless they tell each other (which, again, they usually do). My friend's situation involved something that would have become immediately obvious on Christmas - well, at least, the part where ODS & ODIL didn't show.

Hmmm... If anything like my friend's scenario had happened to me before I was on these boards, I admit, I would probably have told my family the gist of it - not every gory detail, but something like, "We had an argument, so now they're not coming" and maybe, "They said we can't see the grands anymore, but I think it was just said out of anger." (I honestly don't know if I would have added that part of it or not.)

These days, like Sue, I would just say, "They had other plans" and "You'll have to ask them" if there were further questions. If they did, in fact, "ask them," I hope "they" would be as discreet. 

But if not/if they told the whole or even part of the story, I realize there still might be further drama - just, hopefully, not as much. Not necessarily a simple situation, IMO. But, at this point, I'm also thinking this is the kind of case where "the less said, the better" all around.

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1 hour ago, RoseRed135 said:

So hear you about the computer, Sue!

Sorry about your brother who has distanced himself, Sue. Glad that you all respect his wishes though. Sorry about the few mistakes you've made w/ your sibs over the years, too (I'm sure I've made more), but I take it you learned from them - and from your (very wise, IMO) mom.

@ All - One rule I live by w/ my DDs is that I never tell one the other one's business (exception would be if it were necessary due to an emergency, etc.). If one of them wants the other to know, they'll tell each other fast enough. (In fact, they often tell each other this/that before telling me :lol:)

But those are private matters that they're not likely to find out about, unless they tell each other (which, again, they usually do). My friend's situation involved something that would have become immediately obvious on Christmas - well, at least, the part where ODS & ODIL didn't show.

Hmmm... If anything like my friend's scenario had happened to me before I was on these boards, I admit, I would probably have told my family the gist of it - not every gory detail, but something like, "We had an argument, so now they're not coming" and maybe, "They said we can't see the grands anymore, but I think it was just said out of anger." (I honestly don't know if I would have added that part of it or not.)

These days, like Sue, I would just say, "They had other plans" and "You'll have to ask them" if there were further questions. If they did, in fact, "ask them," I hope "they" would be as discreet. 

But if not/if they told the whole or even part of the story, I realize there still might be further drama - just, hopefully, not as much. Not necessarily a simple situation, IMO. But, at this point, I'm also thinking this is the kind of case where "the less said, the better" all around.

Understandable- I've also reconsidered many things as a result of reading others experiences here- Even the occasional practice of defending cohesive beliefs and views provide teachings -- of what not to do- Either way, sometimes the less said the better and sometimes not-

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2 hours ago, SueSTx said:
We went around the table and we all had similar stories which nobody else knew.  Yes we all had told mother, but none of us had 'asked' her to pass it on to the siblings.  Some medical issues she had shared within the family and yes, we had ask her to share and she did.

The moral of this story (if there is one) only the brother that complained hadn't realized that you had to ask (or give permission) mother to share for her to do so.  This brother had and still has the least amount of contact with the family.  We are trying to follow his wishes.  The rest of us knew that anything we told mother that wasn't illegal she kept to herself.  If personal she might not even tell Daddy.  

I try to follow mothers example.  The few times I have shared something about one of my AC with the other, it has come back to bite me in the butt and their relationship with each other has suffered.  

Maybe as siblings if we have something we want shared with each other, we need to be responsible for communicating it ourselves.  Maybe that is what mother was trying to promote by staying out of the sibling relationships.

                                                                            

I love your mother's approach, and I have a similar viewpoint on keeping the confidence of my kids and not sharing each other's business with them.  If they want to share their business, they can talk to each other which they do.

My mom is just the opposite.  She is the queen of the family communication web.  Most information goes to her, then she spreads it around the family from sibling to sibling, picking and choosing what will or will not be repeated and often times creating a different narrative, usually with the help of my oldest sister, who lives with my parents and loves to stir the pot and create false narratives or wrong conclusions, like the latest one that got back to me which was that DH and I were not going to let our youngest go away to college like our other two have done (not true but an example of what happens in my FOO with my mom and sister creating false narratives).  In any event, I don't trust my mom or my oldest sister with any communication above talking about daily events or the weather - very similar to what I did with my MIL as she was also not to be trusted.  The end result is my mom and I have a distant/guarded relationship, and she is not someone I turn to for support as I know it will not be done in confidence nor will my privacy be protected.   Interestingly enough, my dad is a person I can turn to, and he will keep my conversation private, so all is not lost in this equation.

 

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Posted (edited)

My children know I'll spill the beans if they tell me something.  They also know if they don't want me to spill the beans all they have to do is say so. I would be beyond upset to find out that my sister was in the hospital and didn't tell me.  I think that I already had a bad relationship with someone who wouldn't want me to know that they were in the hospital. 

ETA- I don't like to keep secrets forever.  So there has to be a defined time period or please don't tell me.

ETA- If I was the daughter in this situation, my only concern would be my sister is only hearing my mothers side of the story.  I'd be on the phone telling her my side of the story.

My husband is a "holier than thou" to my kids- your mother tells everything and I tell nothing.  Yet.... he told my YS one of my sisters deepest secrets.  Something she did stupidly in her youth that she just wants to forget about.  Really ****** me off.

Edited by skipped
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I agree that there are somethings that I don't need to know (or want to).  I don't need to know you are having marital issues.  But it would be nice to know that my DIL moved out.  I don't need to know you are having trouble with your job  My sister cutting off my mother indirectly affects me and I think I need to know about it.  That doesn't sound like a "minor" disagreement to me.  Secrets ruin relationships.

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