Being the youngest child, I prided myself in being the family’s tattler. It didn’t make me popular with my siblings by any means, but it got me praised by my parents. “Good job, Julie. Now, tell me if they do it again.”
Of course, when you get into school and pull that stunt, you lose friends pretty quickly. My siblings still had to play with me, by order of my mother, but friends dropped you like yesterday’s cafeteria lunch. And, it was a roll of the dice if the teacher was going to be so appreciative to know that little Katie eats things from her nostrils.
Now that I have children, I’m not sure what message to send. Snitches are bad. The very word makes you think they need to be chastised. But, let’s face it, it’s how we, as parents, gather information. Although, it can be daunting, sometimes, to be told every five minutes a play by play of what the other child is doing mischievously, but it has to be known.
The question is always, how do you stay in the middle of the road? To teach a child not to be too tattle-tale like and not to be too dismissive. We need to know when little Peter is striking a match underneath the blankets at night, but we don’t need to know when Carol is bending the spine of the book funny.
I’m finding that you just let them tattle all they want until it’s age appropriate to apprise them of the difference in narking about drug use and tattling about wall booger wiping. For now, I’m in both stages. My smallest is in the second grade and my oldest is a senior in high school. And, it’s surprising what a big help the older siblings are in letting the smaller ones know the deal. Hey, I guess it was fortunate to have so many children! 🙂