LABELS AND KIDS: DO YOU BUY INTO THEM OR PASS THEM BY?
I read a true story by a mom about her adventures with her son who stands out from the family. I loved the affection and support flowing through her voice and the boy, truly, couldn’t find a prouder mom. I applaud the family for teaching him to be proud of who he is. The mother then identified who he might be with large words labeling his tendency to colorfully follow his own path. I found myself wondering if he may just want to be a kid – a definition without limits?
Applying labels, my daughter defines gender non-conformist – she prefers playing with boys than most girls, hates pink, dolls and skirts; I prefer defining her as living large. She wants to emulate her brother; he sometimes wants her to act like a sister – whatever that means. Because, when asked, my son agrees that wearing a dress carries little significance in defining his sister – and that she’s awesome! Do I worry about sexual identity? No. At this age, I worry if she’ll add double digits. Baby steps, people.
Kids sometimes label gender roles so I teach my kids to follow every interest – period, not because or despite of gender lines. I offer a variety of experiences and support natural talents, if they enjoy it (with one commitment lesson: if you sign up for something, you stick out the season). I teach my kids to find joy within politeness boundaries and obeying laws.
Childhood serves the purpose to explore fleeting tastes. It’s difficult enough slowing down and treasuring the daily gifts as time rushes by. Spending time reading into, then over-planning, for a smoother transition to adulthood would speed up the timeline. Despite our best efforts, nothing guarantees drama-free teenage years – it’s an inevitable part of fighting to define your self.
I’m not judging this mom’s parenting, nor preaching mine. I believe she writes hoping for a more accepting future for her son. I just wandered by her situation today – others exist. I prefer not label my children so as to not pigeonhole them and they have emerged as significantly different individuals. I tell my children what I celebrate in them, but not define them while they’re still sampling each day.