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April 19, 2017

Don’t Trust Your Labeling Instincts

“Your eyes can deceive you; don’t trust them.”
(Obi-Wan Kenobi)

Among the most destructive labels we can apply to our kids are those having to do with their perceived disobedience. We see their bad behavior, we watch them openly defy our authority, and we call them “rebellious,”or “defiant,”or “out of control.” If we believe this description is perfectly accurate, we may even get them officially diagnosed with “Oppositional Defiant Disorder.”

The problem is this: What we think we see becomes what we continue to see, according to our perspective. And these labels are especially sticky, so we shouldn’t be surprised they actually perpetuate the behavior we were hoping to curtail. Think about it—if the kid’s got a “disorder,” a diagnosable “condition,” then how can we expect her to suddenly become compliant? She can’t…she’s got ODD!

The next time you’re tempted to call your kid rebellious, pause. Ask yourself this: What exactly is she rebelling against? You? A relationship with you? Law and order? Or…is she just fighting off your efforts to control her?

If your kids are part of the Rebellion, doesn’t that make you Darth Vader? (which, if you didn’t already know, was intentionally a play on Dark Father)

I know this sounds crazy, but I pray you don’t have totally compliant kids. The “rebels” are the ones who are most able to think for themselves, create the world’s innovative solutions, and fight off oppressive injustice. Just like that pesky Skywalker kid did with his “Dark Father.”

Peace begins with pause,

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