When I was a kid, I really did not understand why tattling was such a bad thing. My understanding of it was that it was probably the right thing to do, but still very annoying and it made people want to beat you up. So I tried to stay away from it, but I didn't really know why.
But tattling is something you forget about as you grow older. I didn't think about it again until my kids started doing it.
Now, I am a big advocate of giving your children the reasoning behind the things you ask them to do. I've heard people say that they don't give their kids reasons because they need to learn to respect a parent and obey without questioning. My thinking on the subject is that if I'm asking my kid to do something and he's going to not want to do it, I better darn have a reason for asking him. It's called choosing your battles. I never want to ask my kid to do something just "because I say so." I want to have a good reason and he's welcome to know why I ask… It's always because I want whats best for him or I want what's best for others. In my own life, I don't want to do anything just because someone told me to. We don't function that way as adults and if you do, you should seriously consider that.
So, when Isaac first started tattling, I told him, "Isaac, when you tell on someone just to get them in trouble, that's called tattling. You shouldn't do that." Many of my explanations go over the boys' heads. I'm okay with that. But, I remembered back to my childhood and seriously questioned why it's wrong to tattle. Shouldn't people be held accountable for what they do? Doesn't every wrong deserve a consequence?
I figured it out a while ago and started telling my kids the real reason why we shouldn't tattle. The Bible clearly gives us actions to follow when someone wrongs us. In Matthew 18, it says to first approach the person we have conflict with. If you can't resolve it, then bring in your mom (or some other mediator). Now when Isaac comes to me with a tattle tale, I tell him to talk to Asher about it (and vice versa). If they can't work it out themselves, I step in.
Just this week in CBS we talked about the Matthew 18 way of resolving conflict. One woman said that she didn't think anyone resolved conflict that way anymore. I saw a few other women nod their heads. It really saddened me. I had to speak up. I said, "Absolutely people still follow this way of resolving conflict." We learned this when I was in public elementary school. We were taught this exact formula for resolving conflict. I was actually a part of the "Conflict Resolution Team." I was an impartial mediator. When two kids would get in a fight, they could request a mediator and I'd come and help each person work it out. If we couldn't figure it out peacefully, we'd bring in the school counselor. Her name was Dr. Love and that's another story…
My church talks about this passage of the Bible all the time. I bet you every volunteer and anyone who's been at our church for very long knows exactly what Matthew 18 says. We talk about it in every Music Team interview we have. We talk about it in each of our classes and we practice it to the best of our ability. I've really never been in a healthier community in my life.
And that's really something I want to teach my kids and the next generation!
But my kids still tattle every day. What happens often is, Isaac will wrong Asher in some way (or the other way around) and then Asher will talk to Daddy about it. They'll work it out and then later in the day Asher will see me and rehash the whole event. At this point, there is a new lesson to be taught. This is where I tell Asher it is time to forgive Isaac. If you've already told him that he hurt your feelings and he apologized, then it's time to forgive him and not bring it back up.
That's a hard one. Our church is spending the month of November talking about forgiveness. It's easy to talk about to Isaac and Asher but it is much harder to apply to my own life. Things are much more complicated when you're older, aren't they?
God give me the wisdom to raise my children in a way that will make them successful and godly men. Help me to be an example in grace, mercy and forgiveness. Thank you for being the ultimate example to us. Don't let me forget it.