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Not bad advice

One of the landmines parents have to walk through is teaching their kids not to tattle, but to always tell if someone is hurting themselves or others or going to do something that will end really badly for them. While my experience is that all kids will tattle occasionally, some kids are just natural tattlers. One of my kids (actually two) struggle with this more than the others, but I don’t think it’s a desire to get their brothers and sisters into trouble . . .usually. The issue for my kids is that they like order and rules and dislike chaos and rule-breaking. Particularly for my youngest, there is a way things are supposed to be done and when they aren’t done that way, he gets agitated. He even calls me out when I don’t do things “the right way.” He especially calls me out.

Last week we were having our 19th kajillion conversation about not tattling (in this case noting that his brother was playing and not cleaning) and the difference between tattling and appropriate reporting. These are confusing concepts for seven-year-olds, and frankly not that easy for forty-year-olds. My advice to him was to ask himself, “Why am I telling? What do I hope happens after I tell?” If he wants to help his brother or sisters, then he should tell. But if his goal is to get them in trouble, then maybe he needs to think about it more. I also recommended that he talk to them before he talks to me. There’s also Jesus’s words of wisdom, “What’s it to ya?”

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I have a tendency to be flip and quippy. That can be amusing and fun, but it can also be hurtful or at minimum unhelpful in serious situations. I’m starting to ask myself, “What am I hoping to accomplish here?” So far, the result is I’m saying a lot less that I was before. And there’s a lesson in that, too.

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