Independence

Celebrating Independence Day this weekend on July 4th, I gazed at the brilliant display of fireworks and pondered what freedom means to us today.

Freedom is all about having the ability to make choices.

Yet, I wondered, how much freedom is truly mine, and how much have I relinquished in order to fit into a specific “role”?

So often, we find ourselves stuck in a rut of repetitive habits, without understanding that we really do have the ability to break through of our invisible chains.

How many of us were labeled as children, and then grew into the roles that were assigned to us?

Don’t we all know someone who was labeled as non-academic in his youth, who went on to graduate college with honors later in life?

Aren’t we all familiar with someone who invested so much in her musical talents that she never explored the other aspects of her multi-facetted personality?

It’s so easy, and it’s so tempting to cast our children into roles.

“He’s the messy one with a great sense of humor.”

“She’s the sensitive one who is always organized.”

“He has terrific athletic abilities, but less-than-stellar social skills.”

I recall that in comparison to my brother, I had very specific labels in my youth. (Way too embarrassing to go into more detail!)

Sometimes freedoms are not taken away with a ball and chain, but with a simple label.

Casting a child into a specific role can create a long-term self-fulfilling prophesy.

Throughout their childhood and teenage years, children do not yet have a firm grasp on reality. Rather, their reality is defined by what their parents present as being the truth.

How often do we hear about the youth who was called a “liar” and then realized that he ought to continue speaking falsely in order to live up to his newfound “role”.

People, like glimmering diamonds, have a multitude of facets.

At this present day, or even within this specific decade, one particular facet may be shining more brightly than the others; yet that does not diminish the existence and potential of many other angles that make up one’s personality.

fireworks

Let’s try to hold our tongues and avoid stereotyping our children within a specific role. Hard as it may be, let’s allow our children to explore ideas and activities that we may not have thought to be a perfect match. Obviously, we are not referring to actions that are inappropriate, rather to dealings that we would not have thought suited to that particular child.

The child who is disorganized can be given a chance to be in charge of a party. (With the necessary amount of supervision!)

The athletic son ought not be held back from trying his hand in the arts one season.

And the family “brain” may decide to opt out of this year’s honors program in order to pursue other interests.

When we avoid casting children into particular roles, we develop more well-rounded and emotionally healthy children.

Let’s continue to love, encourage, and continue to bring out the endless sparkle in our children.

Like a diamond sparkling in the sunlight, the layers of their personality will develop into a unique blend of talents, personality, and ingredients nowhere else to be found.

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Comments

  1. I was the older child, responsible for my younger brother and very organized. My love of playing with him gave me the love of becoming a Teacher and Stay At Home Mom! However, I was also labeled as the “non-student” “non-leader”…but I did finish college and did pave my own road of choices. I am ever so conscious not to put the same labels on my daughter and younger son. Although I am sure I will make mistakes too, I will be willing to go to therapy with them and take responsibility.

  2. Thank you for the inspiring thoughts… there is always so much for me to think about on this site!

    Amber, mom to Michael 7, and Rose, 14 months

  3. Another thought provoking piece, thanks, Ellen! Being a single parent of a teenage boy, I struggle between MY “idea” of what he should be doing and hopes I have for my son and the reality, which is what HE is interested in doing and learning. It’s really hard to kind of sit back and let him go.

    Mother of Bryan, 16 yrs.