Ever been tattled on? You know what I mean. Someone tattle taled on you. Remember tattletaling? Let me refresh your memory. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a tattletale is an informer. Here are the synonyms listed within the dictionary definition:
Synonyms: betrayer, canary [slang], deep throat, fink, informant, nark [British], rat, rat fink, snitch, snitcher, squealer, stoolie, stool pigeon, talebearer, tattler, informer, telltale, whistle-blower.
For some unbeknownst reason, it is fair game to tattletale on stepmothers. Let me know if any of this sounds familiar.
- The children report back to their Mom about the terrible meal you made or whatever stupid comment we may have made.
- You are at a child’s sporting/school event and you run into someone who knows Mom. They can’t wait for the event to be over so they can grab their cell phones, call Mom and let her know how lovely (?) we looked or just that we were there.
- You contact your stepchild while they are at a friend’s house. You need to remind them about something they need to do. The friend’s mom calls your husband/partner to report that they did not like what you were saying or doing. (Oh, yes. I’ve heard this one!) Of course, the call to Mom completes the complaint.
- All email communication is cc’d to the entire planetary system. (I hate that!)
It is like it’s free reign! Here comes the stepmother! Grab your cell phone!
Why do people tattletale on stepmothers? The answer is three-fold:
- It’s fun. Yes, it is just good ole fashioned fun. Gossiping usually results in laughter. It is a sport like any other. In this case, you get a free pass because everyone has heard the story about the bitchy stepmother, so it is okay. In fact, you are probably doing the world a service as your call to the parents will probably save that child from a life of menial labor.
- You get rewarded and comforted. Children are torn between their parents’ households. Telling stepmother tales may get their Mom’s attention and positive reinforcement. It may be as simple as just laughing or commiserating together. The tattletales feels as if it brings you closer to your Mom. It feels as if you are confirming your loyalty to her. It is a soothing, comforting feeling. Tattletaling can make a child feel safe.
- You become a good samaritan. By adulthood, the Cinderella story has etched a groove into our brains that cannot be denied. The brain is convinced those fables are real. In our hearts, most people believe the powerful message within those stories. “The stepmother is out for no good!” Good samaritans want to protect our children from harm, especially from a well-known predator like the step parent. So, they feel a responsibility to report the stepmother or stepfather’s behavior to the parents.
At the end of the day, the tattle taling evokes images of high school, which, in turn, is met with high school-like behavior: from all family members. The answer? Try to not take it personally. (Don’t you just hate advice like that?) I know. Seriously, the motivation to talk has much more to do with the tattle talers than it does with us.