22 January 2008

Casuistry: the ethics of tattling

Ok, so nobody likes a tattle-tale, but isn't that just because we don't like getting in trouble? Isn't the tattler actually in compliance with authorities and regulations? If Kid 1 reports that Kid 2 didn't do his fair share of picking up, does Kid 2 not get in trouble because I got the information through tattling? Is there some inherent fault with tattling such that the tattler should get in trouble for having tattled? Or, given that I want to know if someone is doing something they shouldn't, should tattling be encouraged? Do I just think this way because I've always been one of those goody-goody brown haired girls with glasses who sinfully deplores the courser sins of others and whose own transgressions are far more subtle, soul-destroying, and un-tattleable? Somebody help me out here. I just need to know who does and doesn't get a treat after lunch.

4 comments:

Agobard biography said...

Tattling is bad because it demonstrates a desire to see the other guy get hurt and feel sanctimonious oneself. It's bad because of motive.

So I punish them both.

When in doubt, I always double down on punishing. It's like seeing 11 at a blackjack table. You just double down. It's what you do.

+HRC

William Weedon said...

My SIL wouldn't allow tattling for one reason: it was tedious. She was NOT a sister of perpetual partuition, by the bye (though her mother was - she was one of 22!). Her solution was that if the one lad tattled on the other, the first got spanked for being bad and the second for tattling. The end result was that she often heard sounds of scuffling and sobbing in the basement, but she was able to enjoy the soap operas and the bonbons without the tedium of dealing, as it were. The miracle is that the brothers are actually very close, though sadly, they both remain Arians.

Gauntlets said...

Did you say one of 22? Everything looks so fuzzy . . . my head feels funny . . . oh! . . . *thunk*

That said, I get a lot of my parenting tactics out of the Little House series. No, I'm not ashamed of this. In Farmer Boy, Alonzo tries to tattle on the bad kid (who really was bad) and got his head knocked into said bad kid's for his effort. Served them both right. We do something like that around here:

Girl: "HE'S NOT PICKING UUUUUP!"

Boy: "VROOM! WACKA, WOW!"

That's my cue to take the nearly full basket of toys, dump it out, dance on the mess, and set the timer for 1.5 minutes. They work together, it gets done. They don't, it doesn't and I eat their treats.

Voila.

Rebekah said...

You've all given me a lot to think about. Thank you.