It’s one of my favorite times of the year, when fall is in full force, and people are cheering for their favorite team. School has been in session for a few months, and we are in a regular routine. We can say who we are rooting for, and we can say what we like about our team. We can also say what we don’t like about the other teams or their fans. It’s easy to label people for who they cheer for or what they stand for, whether it’s football or something else.
As a parent, I hear other labels. There are labels that are so easy for us to use to describe other parents or their children. But our children hear people using labels, and they can start using them too. She’s weird, he’s dumb, she’s wild. And on and on it goes. What about parents talking about each other? She’s always late; he never shows up to anything; they have problems.
What if we could ditch the labels?
Most of us are a hot mess underneath it all anyway. So why not give each other the grace to know that all of us parents are trying to raise our kids and be there to support each other without labeling? Our kids will pick up on this too.
When we support each other instead of picking each other apart, it makes a difference in every part of our lives. When we talk to each other instead of about each other, we’re opening the door to understand and connect instead of judge and dismiss. My five year old told me that one of the boys he plays with is mean. I said, “When boys and girls are five, they are learning how to be kind. It takes time to learn how to treat each other and how to be a friend.” I kept thinking about our conversation, and how we keep learning this and growing into it our whole lives. Whether we’re a parent or a child, the best relationships take an investment of time and grace.
In Place of Labels
Instead of labels, this is I want my kids to hear from me. You are loved. You are a gift. You can do great things. You are brave. You are miraculous. You are a child of God. Let’s ditch the labels, and replace them with acceptance and truly getting to know each other. Let’s model this for our children, who are watching us and are ready to imitate our words and actions.
We have the opportunity to make a huge difference in the world, just by showing our children how to build friendships and community with each other.