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First off, let me say that I am an Atheist and have been for about 15 years. That being said, I joined a Christian Mothers Book Club. Why??? you ask. Because I wanted to connect with people in my small community and I am probably moving more to the Agnostic side of thinking. I'm smart enough to know I don't have all the answers. I'm also super open minded and can see lots that can be gained from stories of the bible.
We are reading two books right now. Taking Care of the Mommy in Me by Lisa Welchel and Effective Parenting in a Defective World by Chip Ingram.
We had our first group meeting where we discussed the books last night (just the first chapters of both) and it was going ok for the first 1/2 hour then it went downhill from there. There is one particular member who will not stop bashing and complaining about her in-laws. She took up about 2 1/2 hours of time doing this. I wish I was kidding. MANY MANY times I tried to steer her conversation into something relevant in the books and how to deal with things in a way that exhibits personal integrity. To no avail... and no other "veteran" members were speaking up to help with my efforts. Not even the club leader.
I need some advice on how to deal with this. In two weeks we will have our next meeting and honestly, if it is anything like this meeting I don't want to go again. We hardly talked about the books at all. Should I be frank and state my opinion when it happens again or should I try to direct people behind the scenes before hand? Some did honestly seem a little uncomfortable with the bashfest, but some seemed to like the "gossipy" side of what was happening.
What to do, what to do...
It is so easy in groups of women to get to talking about things that come naturally--in-laws, husbands, children, etc. I was in a book club that I quit after a year and a half because all of the other girls had babies and then all they wanted to talk about was dirty diapers and day care.
Is there a certain person designated to lead discussion? I find that helps keep things on track. Come in with one person having a list of questions you want to discuss. That way, if the conversation gets off-track, you can say something like, "Hey, let's get on to the next question." I think having a social time before the book conversation is appropriate and helps get everything out there before you need to focus on the discussion. If it persists that you aren't talking about the book, I wouldn't blame you for not going anymore.
What do you think of Lisa Welchel? She is pretty hardcore conservative when it comes to parenting.
Also, if you ever have any questions about Christianity, I know the women here will be kind and gentle and willing to answer.
Regarding Lisa Welchel, yes I agree she is ultra conservative and there are parts of her book when I read I just kind of shake my head wondering how on earth it would work in the "real world". I'm finding that the Chip Ingram book has some very conservative / hardline methodology too. I think with anything you read that is "self help" oriented you need to take away what will work for you and leave the rest.
Next time I will be bringing a list of questions. Thats a great idea. My only fear is that because I'm new / outsider that people will think i'm bossy boots. But then again... I am kind of bossy boots so they'll be seeing the real me. LOL
If there is a designated person in charge of the group, I think you should pull that person aside, or give that person a call, and share your concerns. Lay it out like you did here. I know if it was my group I would want to know info like this.
I agree with Melissa, in fact that was what I was going to suggest to you as well. You can always hope that this person will have talked herself out, if other members seemed uncomfortable perhaps she doesn't do this all the time. Or perhaps she doesn't talk about her in-laws all the time. :( I hope that somehow things will work out for you, this is a wonderful opportunity to get to know people in your community and get some of your questions answered as well. Keep us up to date!
I agree with Melissa and Joy. Besides there is a time and place for everything. If it is a book club it should be a club to discuss books not personal problems. I am sure you are not the only one who felt uncomfortable the way the meeting went. I doubt if the club will last long if she is allowed to continue and the book discussions gets pushed to the side. People joined to discuss books not gossip. I don't understand why that was tolerated for so long. The leader of the group has a responsibility to keep it moving. She should be the one to see that it does.
Thanks for all the advice. I took it and called the "leader" tonight (its pretty informal). She too expressed that there was a need to stay more on track and that there will be an objective sheet handed out at the meeting next time.
She didn't mention it specifically, but I think more than a couple people called her. :)