I was talking with a mom the other day about a situation she had recently encountered in her neighborhood.
Her son was playing with another little guy down the street and the kid basically said so did you hear why so and so had to move? They are poor now. My mom told me.
The family was foreclosed on and moved to a different house in the area. I believe the family is still in the same elementary school and still running in the same social circles.
The mom that I was talking to was outraged. She didn’t feel like that mom had any right to tell her child what was happening with their friend’s family. She didn’t want the friend’s children embarrassed at school, and she just thought it was poor form by the other mom.
Now obviously in this economic environment, parents may be told or are going to figure out when a family is in economic trouble, especially if they are foreclosed on and have to move. But is it appropriate to tell your children what is happening to another family?
This mom’s point was that the parents could have easily just said they moved – with no other detail or make up a reason – they needed more/less room.
So then we expanded the conversation: Is it appropriate to your child about a family’s trouble if:
The marriage is in trouble and the parents are fighting a lot?
If they are getting a divorced?
If the dad/mom has moved out because of the divorce?
If the family can’t afford to do things like go to movies or parks due to money problem? What do you say about inviting them places and why they can never come?
What do you say about a family moving away? Do you say it’s due to foreclosure?
It’s such a tough call because A. You don’t want to be gossiping about another family; B. You don’t want their kids to be ridiculed or hurt at school or in the community because your kids knows what is really going on and tells others.
But on the hand: A. Could your child be offering support to their friend if they knew the truth? (I guess that’s if you were certain the child had been told by his own parents what was happening.) B. Could your children be learning from these things – are these teachable moments that you are missing by not sharing what is happening to avoid embarrassing the family?
So what do you think? Was this mom in bad form talking to her kids about her neighbor’s problems? How have you handled similar situations? How much do you share with your child about a problem their friend’s family may be having?