Homeschooling Teen

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Honest Advice with Sugar and Spice: On Gossip

By Olyvea and Ethan

Olyvea Pancerella and Ethan Faulkes answer questions on homeschooling, dating, and life in general. Olyvea says, “One of the most unique things we can contribute is male and female perspectives on questions and ideas.” Send them your questions at polyvea@gmail.com.

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Hi, Ethan & Olyvea,

I have a question for you guys. I’ve been homeschooled for awhile now, and lately some people in my extended family have been gossiping about it. They say stuff like “No, she doesn’t have friends, she’s homeschooled” and “She doesn’t do anything all day because she’s homeschooled.” It’s really hurtful, especially coming from family. Do you guys have any advice on how to deal with this?

Sincerely, Ally

Olyvea,

Hey, Ally, I’m very sorry you’ve been going through that. People gossiping about you is always hurtful and it’s only worse when it’s your family. If you know exactly who said these things I would suggest talking to them about it and asking why they would talk about you like that. Make an effort next time you see them to get them alone and nicely ask them why they feel that way. Even if you feel angry try not to show it. A calm, reasonable conversation will get you further than an argument. Also remember that sometimes people gossip when they are ignorant of the circumstance. If you can give them correct information, e.g. homeschooled kids make plenty of friends they just have to look for them, maybe the gossip will stop.

Ethan,

Hello, Ally, that’s really horrible they would talk about you like that. If it makes you feel any better I’ve been through it too. Not everyone in my family approves of my parents homeschooling my brothers and me. Someone in my extended family even told my grandfather we should be taken away from our parents because we’re homeschooled.

I think the best way to handle this situation is to ignore it. People will eventually get bored with the subject and move on. I am a bit confused about one thing though, how do you know they said these things? Did you overhear them or did someone else tell you that’s what was said? Because if it was the latter I’d think about who told you and how trustworthy he or she is. Sometimes people take things out of context or make them seem malicious when they didn’t mean it like that. I’m not necessarily saying this is what happened with you, but it’s something to consider.

Now that we’ve answered your question lets talk a little about gossiping. I think we’ve all been gossiped about and, yes, we’ve all gossiped about someone. Let’s start with this:

What defines gossip?

Olyvea,

Gossip can sometimes be hard to distinguish from just talking. We say things like, “Well, it’s true!” or “It’s nothing I wouldn’t say to their face” to justify what we’re saying, but I believe that if you need to say something like that to make it seem OK, it’s not OK. The people who talked about you, Ally, probably didn’t think they were being mean because they didn’t think you’d hear and “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” They were, obviously, wrong about this. I think gossip can be defined by anything you need to justify. If you need to justify what you are saying, don’t say it.

Ethan,

I agree, but I would like to add a couple points. People who listen to gossip, even if they don’t participate in it, are just as guilty as the active participants. Chances are if you listen to people gossiping all the time you will, eventually, start gossiping. Remember that old saying “you sleep with the dogs, you wake up with the fleas.” Also when someone says, “So-and-so said this about you.” That’s gossip too. It’s not recognized as much as gossip, but think about it. It is gossip.

Should you always confront someone who’s gossiping?

Olyvea,

Well, it depends whether that person is gossiping about you, a friend, or someone you don’t know. I think if you can confront that person in a kind, reasonable manner and you feel you should, then yes, by all means say something. I think there are times when confrontation is acceptable, maybe even necessary, but I think there are also times when it will just cause drama and tension.

Ethan,

I agree that it depends on the situation. Sometimes it’s OK to confront someone, but I think most of the time it’s better to just do what you are going to do and let people say what they will about you. I was always told it’s none of your business what other people think of you.

If you hear someone talking about your friend I would suggest to remove yourself from being involved in the situation by making an excuse to leave. If you are feeling particularly bold you can say that you don’t like gossip and don’t want to listen to it. Either way, I think it’s not really your place to be involved.

I would like to add gossiping is a form of bullying and is extremely hurtful. We should all know how to deal with it and be very careful not to participate in it. I always think of this quote when I think of gossip:

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

I always try to remember that gossiping is a sin as said in Proverbs 6:16-16 ―

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Until next time,

Olyvea and Ethan

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Olyvea Pancerella and Ethan Faulkes are both 16 and both going into 11th grade. Olyvea has been homeschooled since first grade and Ethan has been homeschooled since third grade. Email any questions to: polyvea@gmail.com

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