If you are a parent of multiple children, your children tell on each other….all…the…time. It goes something like this:
One child comes and tells you that another of your children broke a rule. Then our immediate response is to play detective, figure out which rules were broken, and try and enforce the rule that was broken with the child that broke the rule ….when we have the energy.
I’m starting to believe that the majority of parenting should be directed towards molding the hearts of our children. I have also come to believe that the majority of our energy is spent modifying behavior and surviving situations.
We are teaching our children that the state of their actions takes precedent over the state of their heart. To take the story of the prodigal son we are rewarding our children for being the rule following older son who respects the rules instead of the rule-breaking younger son. It’s not to say that rules are not important or should not be taught but there is a much more difficult and valuable lesson that underlies it all. The far greater lesson of this story and each instance with our children is the opportunity to present them with the love of the Father God and the impact that this has in giving us compassion and a desire to pass this love on. How do we do this?
I’ve recently come to the conclusion that dealing the VERY common instance of tattle tailing is the quickest way to undersand and implement change. And instead of facilitating and even encouraging children to come and turn other children in on the basis of rules we should start to look at the hearts of both children; the one doing the reporting and the reported.
Here’s a loose framework of the process with some notes in yellow but it all begins with the question of trying to understand the heart of the reporting sibling by asking “Are you trying to help or just get someone in trouble?”
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