“Mo-om, Savannah is making noises.” “Mo-om, Carter looked at me funny.” We all know what it’s like to have our children come to us tattling on another child and rejoicing in them getting in trouble. This week the 4 Moms are discussing how to teach children the difference between tattling and conveying information something that we need to know.
In our house, we have a clear standard for when a child should come to mom and dad and what steps they should take before it comes to that (See Solving Sibling Squabbles and Bossy Older Siblings). We’ve tried to base our standards on how Jesus tells us to handle disputes in Matthew 18.
I think the key to communicating useful information vs. tattling is the heart attitude of the child coming to the parent. The steps outlined in the linked posts help give children concrete ways to help with heart attitude.
Here are two more basic guidelines:
- Love should cover a multitude of sins.
- Children should come to mom and dad with a heart of doing GOOD for their sibling. (for their siblings physical or spiritual well-being.)
I’d like to expand a bit on #1.
One of the most common things that happens when our children come to us with a dispute is that we explain to BOTH children how they could have settled it by showing extra love to their sibling.
“If child A had done________, there would have been no need to come to mom and dad.” AND/OR “If child B had done ____________, there would have been no need to come to mom and dad.”
For little ones we role play, explaining possible solutions, for bigger ones we remind them to think of the other as more important than themselves and let them work it out alone (or with mom or dad observing).
When we choose to allow love to cover the sin of another, it will require a true sacrifice of self. Here is a recent example.
Matthew (13) and Kaitlin (14) came to me. There was no anger or malice (as a matter of fact they were both smiling), but they had come to an impasse and were seeking me out to help settle their dispute.
These two children work together on science. This particular day, Kaitlin had finished all of her other school work early and wished to complete their science experiment. Matthew pointed out that, although there was a way to do the experiment right away, the book explained that perhaps they would get better results later in the afternoon and he wished to wait.
In my opinion, both children had a good point. Kait wanted to be finished with all of her assignments for the day and Matthew wanted the optimum results from the experiment.
However, BOTH children could have solved the dispute by sacrificing what they wished for the benefit of the other. In this situation, that is exactly what I told them and they went off and figured it out on their own. (I’m not sure what they settled on.)
Giving up our preference, comfort or right for the good of another goes against our culture and our sin nature.
There are some times and situations that Mark and I wish to be told what is going on without going through our normal steps:
- Dangerous or destructive behavior OR someone headed toward dangerous or destructive behavior.
- Specific behavior that we are working on with a specific child. (i.e. Someone is consistently playing during chore time. We ask the other children to please come tell us immediately if they see child C playing during chore time.)
- If one of our children is unkind or disrespectful to someone outside of our family.
Be sure to visit the other 4 Moms to read what they have to say about this topic:
For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.