Monday, June 14, 2010


My eldest sister said something to me last weekend that really made me think. While gesturing at these lovely pizzas that she'd "thrown together", she said, "I may not be able to do all the creative stuff you do, but I can make these!" I mused about that a bit. You know how in families, siblings can often be assigned roles? "She's the creative/rebellious/nurturing/adventurous/quiet/bossy one". It can be hard to break out of the roles that are placed upon us, even if you don't identify yourself that way. For instance, I was often teased for being "lazy", because I was often to be found up in a tree or under the covers with a cat and a book. Why not introspective, bookish, thoughtful, or intelligent?

I have made a conscious effort to "unlabel" my children when I hear other relatives describing them in a certain way. What works best is adjusting the adjective. Instead of stubborn, I say determined. Instead of emotional, I say passionate. I'm not delusional; who knows a child's "flaws" more than their mother? But it is my wish to redefine the qualities that make your child challenging, as I know that the characteristics that are the hardest to deal with are the ones that will most serve him/her when they are out in this world on their own: persistence, determination, passion, and independence.

Similarly, it can be hard to break INTO a characteristic. If one child is creative, it can be hard for another to find themselves creatively. So, although my siblings and I are all creative, I think perhaps I was labelled the "creative one". My sister's words drove this point home, even though I remember thinking she was the best artist in the world, had the coolest handwriting, could French braid my hair...

Her creativity comes out most in the kitchen. Admittedly, food is not my medium of choice. But Lana truly relishes the details...needless to say, I let her do the cooking when we get together, and it is my pleasure to devour her creations, in awe of her flair and apparent ease with a task I find tedious at best.

My other sister, who is between the eldest and I, was the "rebellious" one. Even when she wasn't rebelling, she was considered rebellious. So even though I rebelled in my own ways,  I was never called rebellious. And even though she has many creative talents, I am still considered "the creative one".

Julie creates amazing works of art by casting the natural, diverse, and ancient beauty of the female torso. Check out her work at; if you live locally, you might even consider having one done! A sneak peak at her finished product:

I feel proud to share the same blood as these two tremendously passionate, independent, determined, and wonderful women, my sisters.

Reflect upon the adjectives that have defined who you think you are. Do they still fit? Did they ever?Do you "label" your children? Is there room for these labels to be revised, rethought, or removed altogether?
What label would you most like to have applied to you?


  1. Very thought provoking, I hate labels, yet we define so much of our existance by them. It's interesting to hear your thoughts on the subject, I am an only child so first, middle, and baby, I have within each of those lables. I also label the children, I hate it, but if often slips and one is the quiet, thoughful one, one is the risk taker, yet that is not solely who ther are ya know??

  2. i was just talking about this to a friend this morning about my sis and i. we are, and have always been very different. even people today will say pretty much the same thing when 'labeling' our differences. i think it sticks with the sibling who feels left out or labeled as having least. i think my sis and i are not very close today partly because of it. ( i dislike the word 'hate' much more than any label too btw.)xx

  3. so true! that's what they all get for calling me a hippie, i guess. i am trying real hard to live up to it. thank you for pointing this out about our children!

  4. We try hard to be mindful of our words -- all of them. And we discuss "labels" and perception with our children so that they are aware of the potential power (negative and positive) that can go with them. But my older children are open to such wordy topics :-)

    Yes, a thought-provoking post indeed, Stephanie! Well done. And I'm not so much into the cooking either. Nope, not AT ALL.

    And speaking of labels and perceptions, all the women-folk in your family strike me as creative. Such a wonderful supportive family you have!

  5. Lovely post, Stephanie! I am smiling inside and out. I will happily create meals for you anytime! (those pizzas look good! :))
    As you know, our girls have been labeled the quiet, shy, thoughtful one, and the naughty, brave and crazy one. I am breaking away from these, as I sometimes see the girls resisting embracing the parts of themselves that "belong" to their sister. Like us, they each have a creative side, a rebellious side, a thoughtful side, a kind side, etc.
    I think growing up, I was labeled as the responsible, reliable one (BORING) which is natural for an eldest child. But there has always been a rebel in there, too, and someone who wanted to read all Saturday morning, instead of helping Mom, etc...
    I think that within our own circles, we are sometimes different from our family's perceptions. But as long as we are loved and appreciated in each place, it really doesn't matter!
    I am LANA. That's it.

  6. I'm going to stop referring to my daughter as 'highly strung', she's now an emotionally charged deep-thinker!!


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