as a parent, you feel an immense sense of responsibility in nurturing your children, building a sense of identity and character within them, and (hopefully) setting them up to succeed in life, whatever their interests or passions may be.
in reflecting on this, i was struck by the inherent parallels between raising children and nurturing your own sense of self.
there's a great book on parenting called "nurture shock," which focuses on debunking the myths about how to raise children with a healthy self esteem. one of the subjects that the book tackles is labeling. while it's a long-held belief that praising your child for being "smart" or "pretty" or " artistic" or "athletic" is an effective way to build confidence and set your child up for success, the authors contend that these labels do far more harm than good. rather than building character and a sense of identity, they have the adverse effect of setting up lofty expectations, constructs which your child will always try to live up to.
the problem with labels is that they set up a predetermined notion of who you are and should be—an implied sense that this is your fate as opposed to something you can control.
in looking at your own life, are you defined by labels? if you've chosen a path: be it mother, father, professional, homemaker, have you allowed that label to define—and in the process confine you—a nice little box that excludes all the other things you used to be?
i have. it's only recently that i have rediscovered—and embraced—long dormant passions (photography, writing, design) that were set aside as i made a life for myself.
as i say in my credo: i am wife and mother. a sister and a daughter. a writer and an aesthete. a lover of beautiful things and making things beautiful—whether by capturing them on camera, expressing them in words, or experiencing them, truly, in the moment. i am mostly an optimist but sometimes a pessimist. i am a believer in life—despite all its imperfections—embraced and fully lived.
if labels can effect a self-fulfilling prophecy, then i say turn that power on its head. think of your roles but also your dreams and passions—and make your credo a volume of labels that don't pigeonhole you...but rather, enable you to soar.