Last night was my Moms' Group. We meet once a month with an MFT to discuss - well, anything and everything!
Last night one of the moms brought up an interesting issue. Her sons are 6 and 3.5. Her 6-year-old has always been a kid who tells it like it is. You can ask him, "who spilled that milk?" and he will answer truthfully. He's not sneaky; he's an open book.
Her 3.5-year-old has started scheming a bit. It's very normal behavior at this age. He'll come in from the back yard and say "Mom, he took my basketball!" She'll then ask the older one what happened, and he was nowhere near his brother. The little one was trying to get the big one in trouble.
The mom's concern is that she might be setting up roles as "The one who tells the truth" and "the one who I can't trust" by asking them to each say what happened and then always believing the older one. It's hard for her, because she can, in fact, believe the older one; she is aware, however, that this could be problematic.
We discussed just talking to the younger one about the situation as if it were true, without bringing the older one in. "If he took your basketball, what would be a good thing to say in that situation?" Perhaps it's not important to find out The Truth and What Really Happened. Perhaps it's just important to talk to the kids in a positive, constructive way and leave it at that.
It's an interesting idea to contemplate and try to keep in mind as we navigate this tough, exhausting job of mothering. Sibling dynamics are a minefield. I recommend the book "Siblings Without Rivalry" by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.