Mom Advice: When Is It Okay to Vent?

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I don't know anyone who hasn't at one time or another felt the need to vent. Whether it's about home, work, kids, or the significant other, sometimes we need a sounding board for our frustrations. But where does respect for the private lives of our co-workers, friends, and family override our desire to process what's happening in our lives? How do we vent without causing irreparable damage?

I polled several friends on this subject and some common questions came up during the discussion:

  • Is your need to vent based on a temporary, extreme emotion? Would giving yourself 24 hours to think on things ease your tensions at all?
  • Would anyone be hurt by what you choose to share with another?
  • Will your sharing result in actual, constructive change?
  • Will your sharing make you feel better, or is there a chance it will just fuel your frustrations or cause you guilt or added emotional stress?

Most of my friends agreed: if you are venting about a particular person, and they would be hurt by the discovery, you should refrain. Many suggested if you are having issues with one person, deal with it head-on if you can. Discuss the topics that are frustrating you, try not to make it entirely personal.

These may be the ideals, but are not always possible. In that case, my friends offered different methods for dealing with emotions they feel need to be addressed.

Some depend solely on their significant other to help sort through frustrations. Some lean on a trusted friend or therapist to act as an impartial third party. One friend even mentioned that she meets monthly with a group of girlfriends who each take the chance to "let it all out," and keep things entirely to themselves. Many of my friends shared that when they journal or write about their trials, they feel a cathartic release of emotions and gain perspective without betraying confidences.

Sometimes it's a delicate balance to process and deal with heated emotions in a way that still honors our personal relationships. How do you try to find that balance?

You can connect with Stacey on her personal blog, Tree, Root, and Twig, or on Twitter and

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