Who are the Four Moms of 35+ kids?
Many parents don’t permit ‘tattling’ at all. I am not that parent. I am nosy. I want to know what’s going on. I am also concerned that by banning and even punishing a tattler, there is incentive for children to be sneakier about misbehavior behind the parent’s back, but flaunt it in front of a better behaved (usually older) sibling, which engenders sibling bitterness and sinful habits that will be hard for our kids to overcome.
There are different sorts of tattling. For all of them, we learned to ask questions.
For tattling of the “Mom, she’s eating a bagel!” sort, we asked “Why are you telling me this?”
Sometimes there was actually an important element I was missing because kids are disorganized when reporting information. Seriously, sometimes they would come tattle about the bagel, but when I asked why they were telling me it would because of something like, “Well, she’s using the sharpest knife to cut it while she’s holding it in her hand,” or, “She took it out of the trash,” or “it’s not hers, she took it out of Daddy’s lunch bag.” Okay, tell me that FIRST!
Sometimes it was their way of finding out if it was okay for them to have a bagel, too. I insisted that they actually ask me directly. After a bit of training with this, I would ask, “Are you telling me this to get her in trouble, because you are worried about something she’s doing that might not be safe, or because you want to know if you can do that, too?” Sometimes it was a bit of both, but just asking the question straightened that out for them. Sometimes it was obvious that they wanted to know if they could do it too, but were throwing their sibling across the field first to see if there are any landmines. Then I would say, “She can do what she is doing- but you may not, because you did not ask me, but you tried to get your sister in trouble first.”
Most of the time, a few bouts of asking them to explain why they were telling me this was enough to embarrass them out of’asking’ under the guise of tattling.
For the tattling of the sort where siblings are in a tiff, We found it helpful, though very tiring sometimes, to insist that instead of ‘tattling,’ they tell us what the *other* person would tell us about the incident- to tell us their story from the other person’s point of view. It required some coaching and a firm nixing of attempts to slant the story from their point of view.
This was tiresome to both sides, and made it much more likely they would work it out or deal with it instead of tattling for minor things.
Younger children don’t understand point of view very well, but they can usually grasp the basics of “What will your sister say when I ask her what happened?” This generally reveals any ‘missing’ elements left out of the story because they showed the tattler’s own guilt. When your guilty party is telling a story and trying to ignore or deceive you out of their own culpability they will talk lower and faster when getting to their behavior, louder and more slowly when discussing the guilty sibling. They will use the passive voice (he got hit with the stick, not ‘I hit him’), and they will leave strange gaps in the story that make it very confusing.
One other reason I do not just ban tattling altogether is something that does not show me in a good light- my middle brother and I managed to trick our father into punishing our youngest brother for tattling numerous times. Our youngest brother was hyper sensitive, and we knew that. So we would stare at him with the intention of driving him nuts- unblinking, solemn, glares. If that did not provoke him, we would say, “We are still *staring* at you!” Then he would go tattle, but he had nothing to say except that we were looking at him. And we would look wide eyed and innocent and say with complete truth and total deceit, “We just looked at him!” And then he would get punished for tattling, and we would gloat. We were just ‘looking’ at him, and of course, he should have ignored us, but he couldn’t- and our intention was completely malicious and we shouldn’t have gotten away with it.
Yes, we were wretched, horrid little brats.
my dad was FAR from in tune with what was going on with his kids, so it was easy to get away with sneakiness and underhanded tactics that got others in trouble for stuff we were provoking (or doing ourselves).
It’s not too late to buy the Four Moms parenting book, which you can get as a Kindle or as an e-book document:
You like this? You’ll like my Kindle books, too:
101 Answers to the Summertime, “Mom, I’m Bored” Blues; help your kids use their free time creatively and productively. Give them ideas that will help them use their time and energy to create, to learn, to grow- to contribute. This is not your average ‘keep the kids out of your hair’ book.
Required Poems for Reading and Memorizing (annotated); Charming collection of older poems that you and the kids just might love.
Ten Low-Carb Snacks and Quick Meals Okay, actually, there’s a little more than ten, and they aren’t merely low-carb, they are also sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free! Totally NOT dairy-free, though. Personally, I think this is great value for the money.