EP – 46 Be careful with Labels

Our Monthly One on One

Dear Mr. Venon. We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basketcase…a princess…and a criminal.

– Closing monologue, The Breakfast Club (1985)

I love this movie. You can tell that I am a member of Gen X. One of the reasons I enjoy this movie is the lesson of how labels, while sometimes useful, can place people in boxes that is hard for them to get out of. At least in our perceptions of who we think they are.

In this one-on-one conversation, I talk about how grandfathers should avoid using labels when it comes to thinking and talking about their grandchildren. While labels can quickly convey a lot of information in a few words, it limits the person to that one label in our own thoughts.

Talking about or describing attributes within a context or setting is a much better way to think or talk about our grandchildren. Where labels can carry a fixed meaning, discussing attributes lets us talk and think about the parts of the personality or skills that the grandchild has compared to just thinking of them in one term.

Thinking and speaking about our grandchildren’s attributes allow them to grow and develop in our minds and does not keep them locked in as only one personality type or on a set of physical attributes.

While labels themselves are not good or bad, I would like to challenge the grandfathers and grandparents to be careful and avoid using labels and shift to thinking about and discussing the attributes that we want to praise or brag on. By shifting to calling out the attributes to describe our grandchildren, we allow them to evolve, grown, explore, and not stay fixed. After all, these precious little gifts are constantly changing and challenging themselves and their environments.

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Adulting 101

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