” Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV
Hello Recycled Moms. Today, I am talking about a subject that recently affected my own grandson “S”. At some point, most children experience this. When one sees another child doing something wrong, he or she has to choose loyalty to the wrongdoer or confession to preserve safety.
My grandson chose to tell me that his friend “J” had done something very wrong, criminal in fact. He knew his friend would feel betrayed and would be angry but concern for his friend’s future overrode the demand for secrecy. His friend indeed was upset and in a rage. He called S. a snitch among other not so nice names.
S. felt awful about telling on his friend and I explained to both boys that being a snitch is simply to act as an informer and information is knowledge. Parents must have knowledge and information so we can protect the children in our care. I must confess that J. never grasped the concept and left very angry and feeling betrayed. The situation still allowed for a teaching moment that I hope will stay with both boys for a lifetime.
While my heart remains concerned for J., I know my main responsibility is to my own child and his training. I applauded S. for his courage. It took a lot to tell me when he knew J. would be angry and maybe not remain his friend.
Recycled Moms, I tell you all this so you know you are not the only one going through these trials and your kids are not either. Encourage them to never have secrets from you. Secrets are dangerous and lead to disaster. Open hearts keep family members close to one another and increase the protective instinct. So encourage your children to tell you everything. I have taught S. that he can tell me anything. I do not promise there will not be consequences for actions that were wrong. I do promise I will not be angry, that I will support him and will do everything in my power to make it right again.
Let your children know that the child who told them not to snitch is being a bully and bullies are only concerned about their own welfare; they do not want to be found out and reported. As in our case, a child may be threatened if he or she tells, but again, secrets (silence) impede safety. Silence does not promote safety in any manner at all. Let the child know it is okay to feel scared and even feel badly about having to snitch.
We must learn to make choices in life and there will be thousands of them. The best way to know in the future how to choose is to start today in positive ways. Choose right, reject wrong. Choose legal, refuse criminal. Choose morality, say no to immoral behavior.
Also, it is important, vital even, to not promise something you cannot maintain. Never promise any child that you will keep secret what he or she confesses. Let the child clearly know you must pass on the information so they can remain safe and the person they are telling about will be safer also. Let them be present if they wish but never push them to be confronted with a situation that makes them feel unsafe.
Will your child tell you everything and never keep a secret? Probably not. They are kids and will act like kids. That makes us feel betrayed, hurt, offended and perhaps angry. Remember there are degrees of lying. Lying by omission is only one and most children do not have the capability to understand that. Just encourage total honesty and pray for everyone involved. Remain watchful around certain children who might be bad influences on your own child but know we cannot place kids in a bubble. Let natural consequences play out and encourage the right kind of snitching.