'TMI!' -- Are You Sharing Too Much With Other Moms?
reprint from pgeveryday
Experts explain what’s OK to share -- and what’s best left unsaid.
By Judy Koutsky
Many moms (like me) often say too much when it comes to their kids. This is not necessarily healthy, given that all the other moms shouldn’t necessarily know that your child is struggling in school or that he got kicked out of soccer camp because of his temper. Of course, sharing has its benefits, too. “Sharing builds intimacy and connection, which can be a huge source of comfort for many mothers,” says Megan Warner, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Guilford, Connecticut. But when is it OK to share, and when should you keep things close to the vest?
WHEN you should share: Sharing is good when it contributes to the lives of others, saysSherianna Boyle, a psychology professor and author of The Four Gifts of Anxiety. Maybe you see another mom struggling with her high-energy toddler, and you share with her your own challenges with your kids. This can even lead to friendship.
But sharing out of pain, frustration, or fear could feel very draining to the other person, Boyle notes. Plus, you might regret spilling the beans later. Not to say you shouldn’t share the most personal things (like the nitty-gritty details of a fight with your husband), but limit these shares to best friends and those closest to you.
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WHAT you should share: You shouldn’t share anything about your child or your husband that you wouldn’t want others to know about yourself, says Boyle. For example, if your child has a horrible rash on his tushy that won’t go away, there’s no need to share with the class mom. If you want to share something embarrassing, and you’re the focus of the story, that’s OK, but something along the lines of your child wetting the bed (when he’s past that age) is off limits, says Michelene M. Wasil, a marriage and family therapist.
WHERE you should share: Stopping a mom in the grocery story to go on and on about your daughter’s behavioral problem is not only inappropriate, it also puts everyone in an awkward situation. “Share in private, and if you have a lot to say, you may even want to ask the person ahead of time if they have a minute to talk,” says Boyle.
WHOM you should share with: This is just as important as what you share. There’s always that one mom who has the latest gossip. While it may be fun to listen to her, she’s definitely not the one to open up to. If your child is having an issue, and you think another mom might have good advice (say she’s a teacher or a counselor), you can approach her. “Sharing can be helpful to give us a sense of community and obtain that feeling of ‘Oh, thank goodness I'm not the only one!’” says Wasil.
For the most part, sharing is beneficial. It can solidify a friendship and open the door for receiving good advice when you need it. Just remember to think it through first and ask yourself whether this is the right person, time, or place before spilling the beans.
Have you ever shared something but regretted it later?
Judy Koutsky is the former Editorial Director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also Executive Editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on Twitter @JudyKoutsky.