I just checked my site tracker, and found that someone happened upon a blog from last year with the search terms: how to deal with catty & gossipy mommies. I think I may have an answer to this question, so although it wasn’t directed initially to me, I’m going to take a stab at it.
There are a few things one could do when dealing with folks who resort to childish, passive aggressive measures. One, we can ignore them. Two, we can make sure to not participate in their behaviors we abhor. So, if we’re included in their conversations, we need to not stoop to gossip when they begin. Third, we can confront them on their behaviors. If someone (a mom or otherwise) begins being childish in the catty-gossipy variety, we can say things like, “This conversation makes me feel uncomfortable.” Or, you could be more specific and say something like, “Janet, when you use phrases like _____, it makes me feel sad/hurt/angry.” If that doesn’t stop the behavior you can even say that you need to leave unless the conversation changes.
People are obviously gossipy for all sorts of reasons. But, sometimes, they can be venting something in which they are really concerned. Maybe it is up to us, those who are bothered by the gossip, to help those participating in gossip find more constructive ways of voicing their concerns. If a mother is complaining that all “name a group of people” do “name abhorrent activity”, simply call the mother out and say that’s a stereotype, or correct the language: “You mean, this one particular person, not all, right?”
The biggest thing to remember is to breath when dealing with people who stoop to language we would not otherwise approve. Stay calm, and remember they are often not attacking us personally, but something else. Confront the behavior, and move on.
For other ideas, see: http://www.cloudtownsend.com/Articles/7articles5.htm.