Venting vs Detraction

I’m not sure about the difference between venting and detraction and how to decide if one or the other constitutes mortal sin.

For example, here is a real life scenario:
I’m in French class. My teacher is a good teacher in a lot of ways, but one thing that irritates the heck out of me is the way he grades. I think he is far too black-and-white in the way he determines if an answer is right or wrong, and he won’t listen when students bring up very reasonable objections to a conclusion he has drawn.
One time, we were grading a test and one “correct” response that he determined in particular infuriated me, along with most of the class. I won’t explain the entire problem because it would take paragraphs, but I thought he was being very unreasonable. I wasn’t really angry about the grade because my French grade is pretty solid, but I was upset about the fact that not only did he give me misleading information on the subject the previous day, but it shouldn’t have even been relevant anyways. So I went and ranted about it to my friend, explaining the entire situation and how insulted I was and how ridiculous it is to have a language teacher who gives so little room for interpretation and ect and ect.

I would say that this is more venting than detraction, correct? I confessed it as a mortal sin because I just assumed it was detraction but I didn’t really know about “venting” at the time. I don’t know that it would damage my teacher’s reputation, I didn’t mean it to, but obviously it could if it gets around that he’s an unreasonable sort of teacher, kids end up deciding not to take French because of it, it damaging his job, ect. So I just confessed it as mortal. Would you say that it is, or not?

Another scenario:
I was discussing future classes with my friend today and talking about how much I would really love to not take a science class next year and just go on to another year of theatre instead. I was laughing with her about how my mother would probably blow her top if I actually dropped science. I was doing a sort of impression of my mother saying things like "You took the two easiest science classes that your entire school had to offer, failing one of them along the way, and now after scarcely making the graduation requirements you’re telling me that you want to not even bother scraping up the most bare possible college requirements? Your older sister took SIX YEARS of higher level science and you want to end high school with TWO? What are you DOING with your life? Which is probably really exaggerated. A more likely reaction would be “Well, you can do whatever you want with your life, but you realize that you’re not getting into college. You have the choice to not take chemistry but you’re never going to actually get out of this house. Do whatever you want but I’m just saying, your sister took six years of science and she’s already moved out so whatever, just putting that out there”. Really passive aggressive, not all angry and yelling. She might yell, but passive aggressive is much more likely.

I think that would probably be venting as opposed to detraction (although it is harder to tell because my mom doesn’t exactly have a reputation to damage) but I can’t decide if that would be mortally or venially sinful. Especially since it was kind of lying (I guess?), but it was all in good humor and obviously my friend wouldn’t think that she would actually do that. Or maybe she would. I don’t know. Does it make a difference if they don’t really have a reputation to damage? Obviously it doesn’t matter to my mom if my friends like her or not, and it’s not that it makes it ok to vent about her, but maybe it makes it less grave? Or not. I have no idea. I haven’t confessed this yet because it just happened today and I’m not 100% sure how to go about it.

I think you should talk to the priest about it, even right when you go into confession. You can ask… this has been bothering me, but I don’t know if it is detraction or just “venting,” mortally or venially sinful; is this something I should never do again or is it not a big deal at all? Confession is also a place for learning, I am sure you know; not just a place to say “I did x, y, and z.”

Couple of things strike me:
Teachers get to make the call. If the teacher was trying to illustrate the nuances of speaking language vs. grammatical language, then I don’t think there’s really an issue. You job is to study and his to teach. Sometimes teachers mention things in passing, but the exact answer is the exact answer. In many subjects.
Your mom is trying to assist you. She has your best interests at heart, even if it’s something you don’t particularly want to pursue, She’s thinking about your transcript. As a young person in high school, now is the time to beef it up and do the best you can. You can always take Theater in college, or join community theater. Sometimes the more challenging road is the most beneficial. Not to say that Theater or ANY of the Fine Arts are easy. They are not, but she may want to you get into a technical college. At any rate, she’s your mom, and even though you have a right to feel frustrated, you might cut her some slack and try to see if from her point of view, as a loving son.
These would be things that I would confess: My tendency to feel like I know better than others, particularly my elders. I’d pray for humility and perspective.
God bless you. High school is an exciting time. You have your life ahead of you. Be aware that people want you to thrive. Your teachers, as well as the family that loves you.

In my opinion, the difference between venting and detraction has to do with who you are telling it to. For example, if you complain to your coworker about your boss, that is detraction, as the other person has to deal with the boss in the same way and it could hurt the boss’ reputation. However, if you complain to your spouse, who presumably doesn’t have to deal with your boss, then it’s just venting. By the same token, if you complain about your spouse to your inlaws, it’s detraction, but if you complain to your therapist, who is supporting you through an unpleasant situation, then it’s venting. Venting is a dangerous habit to get into, by the way. It’s rarely a good thing.

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