I’ve been slowly working my way through a book titled Raising the Perfect Child through Guilt and Manipulation by comedian Elizabeth Beckwith. It’s ranting, witty, and irreverent. (If you have a problem with bad language it isn’t for you.)
From the beginning of the book she sets down the foundation of raising your kids this way.
You create a strong sense of “Us Versus Them.” She gives all kinds of suggestions to do this. For example, point out people who are showing behavior you don’t want your kids to do, and specifically mention how they are outside your inner circle. Hilariously, you reinforce with your child that you are proud of them for not doing it…and that they are inside your inner circle. You use gossip as a teaching tool to separate yourself (and hopefully your kids) from any behaviors you don’t want.
Alienating your children aside–I think we can practice this with all our relationships.
We can develop the dynamic, “We are a family because we have a common enemy” with anyone.
There’s a difference between exposing something (don’t hide things that need to be discussed), venting about something (a good friend will know when to cut you off) and gossiping.
But if gossip is the only thing that unites you to another person, and you lose it, your relationship will be over.
I talked about this with my daughter and she said, “Since vulnerability is required for relationship–does exposing someone else’s vulnerability feel like relationship?”
Is it possible that we gossip just to feel like we are united, on a team, or somehow connected?