Recently, I was meeting with a colleague to discuss a challenging interpersonal situation she was having. I was trying to offer advice and perhaps even find a solution for the problem, but to do so, I needed more detail. My colleague was reluctant, however, to give me more. After much deliberation, she finally blurted out that she didn’t want to “tattle.” We both knew the person in question, and she was concerned that, by telling me more, she would become the playground tattler everyone hates. My reaction? I immediately thought of the Berenstain Bears.
In The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers, Brother Bear almost gets into the truck of a man at the park (the man has a super cool remote control airplane Brother covets) before Sister Bear reminds him that the man is a stranger and therefore Brother should be cautious. When they return home, Sister Bear tells Mama and Papa Bear what happened. Brother accuses of her tattling, and Mama disagrees, explaining that tattling is when you share information to get someone in trouble, while telling is when you share information to help someone. Sister, she says, was telling.
Of course, I share this story with my colleague. (No judgment, please, about the advisability of quoting the Berenstain Bears in a professional setting.) It was terribly hooky to share a children’s book to address an adult problem, but then I realized: pretty much every problem in life can be solved by the Berenstain Bears. So, I went to our ridiculous impressive stash of Berenstain Bears books to test my hypothesis:
1) Having some trouble disconnecting from social media? Can’t put down that smartphone? Try The Berenstain Bears and Computer Trouble.
2) Adjusting to a new job? Try The Berenstain Bears and Mama’s New Job.
3) Worried about a big presentation at work? The Berenstain Bears Get Stage Fright is for you.
4) Dealing with a rude coworker or neighbor? The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners will give you tips to deal with the situation.
5) Out of shape? The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food may be what the doctor ordered.
I can go on and on. Those books are genius. I get it if you aren’t a Berenstain Bears fan, though: Papa’s sort of goofy, Mama wears that dumb cap, and the kids don’t seem to move out of elementary school. But, my kids love this fuzzy family. And, I have used those books to help explain issues big (strangers and reproduction) and small (the plot of the Nutcracker and why we go trick or treating at Halloween) to them. (Speaking of reproduction, here’s how that conversation went.) Now that I know the books have relevance to adult life, I may just look to Mama and Papa for the next challenge that comes my way–at work or elsewhere. The Berenstain Bears may have a new calling…..