Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My Kid Is A...

"You're a bully." My ten year old reminds his older brother. It sums up his frustrations in one single word. He has overheard my husband and I use the word in analogy as we try to explain to our oldest how his reactions to his siblings appear. It's been a tough season of jumping off into adolescence, and the most modern term to use for his blunders is "bullying".

But what I see happening as a result of this season, is a bunch of sticky resentment coming from my ten year old. He now sees his brother as nothing more, or less, than a "bully". Even in the good moments when my oldest is trying to joke around and be a friend, even in the bad moments when my oldest is hurt by something and needs a friend.

According to his brother, he's been written off as the family "bully" and all other qualities are hiding in the shadows of the label.

Sad but true (and there is a lot of mommy-guilt here as well...but we will save that for another post). Regardless of my oldest's responsibility for his actions, or reactions, we have all set him up for failure with one powerful word.

Most labels are formed prematurely. It's like stopping in the middle of a person's story and choosing to define them by that point on their journey. Good luck giving them the chance to move into the next chapter without dragging that label along with them. Once it attaches, it is not easily forgotten--by the labeler or the labeled.

I'll always remember being called "a klutz" as a child. I often wonder if my holding back in many situations where I needed to be confident and capable thereafter had to do with that less-than-stellar perception of me? Actually, I am pretty sure it had loads to do with it.

The risk of using labels can narrow the ability to see that person as anything else. We are all familiar with the most effective label-maker--the media. Many lives and careers have been destroyed by the label that is given to a celebrity because of their mistakes or flaws.

As a mom and a woman of faith, I need to be slow to label and quick to love, regardless of what I see with my eyes in a particular moment or season. Kids change ALL the time...especially when it comes to their less-appealing qualities. In their growth, they will come across a gamut of emotions, reactions, and instincts. Heck, I still find myself going through that roller-coaster time and again. And while it's not always pretty, we are all more complex than just a label.

I cannot see the depths of my children's journey toward a well-rounded human being. The ups and downs aren't what make them, but teach them to grow toward something even better. If there is one label they need that will suit them for the rest of their lives it's A-Work-In-Progress.

And I hope that's the one that sticks.

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