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Finding Faith in Labels

Finding Faith in Labels

This is Part 2 of Sunday’s post: Stories from my Childhood

As promised, I am back to tell you what the Stories from my Childhood post has to do with this blog. In college I learned about the labeling theory.

Finding Faith in Labels by Life as a Convert

Our dear friends at Wikipedia have a great definition for this:

“Labeling theory is the theory of how the self-identity and behavior of individuals may be determined or influenced by the terms used to describe or classify them. It is associated with the concepts of self-fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping.”

Like a medical record, school records are kept. Notes are kept in students’ files. These things that happened to me in the Stories from my Childhood post were in my files. Every grade I went up, the teachers saw my records and how troublesome and untrustworthy I was. I have no doubt that these ideas lead my teachers to believe these things about me, so instead of seeing the truth, they saw the label. Whenever situations arose, they immediately jumped to conclusions based on what was fed to them by other people. They believed the labels instead of believing me.

Did I do bad things? Of course I did! I set off fireworks at school one day with a few friends. (Got suspended for that.) I skipped class. I missed assignments. But, I always owned up to those things. I was never a leader. I was always a follower. I can’t recall any big troublesome things I did where I was the mastermind. I was always suckered into peer pressure and trying to fit in.

I was never thought to succeed at much. After all, I didn’t do what I was told and I couldn’t be trusted. I was a trouble maker.

Labeling my Children

I know that my kids won’t always make the best decisions and they will get into trouble too. I don’t want them to think they are defined by any labels people might put on them. (I am constantly telling Losh he is NOT disabled) I was struck a few weeks ago when my children were all getting into trouble for something they had not all done. My oldest screamed “You never believe me!”. I knew exactly how he felt and had a nice little chat with him.

As a parent, I have tried so hard to “believe” my kids and not jump to conclusions. I give them the opportunity to talk about what they have done. I also avoid labeling them. I don’t tell them they are bad when they do something wrong. Sometimes they do bad things, but that doesn’t mean they are bad.

I wish somebody had told me the same thing when I was growing up.

I ended up going through life being shy and hardly sticking up for myself. To this day, I have a hard time with confession of any sort because I always feel like I will be shamed/embarrassed or doubted.

Finding Faith in Labels

I was recently reading a book not knowing that it would go perfectly with this post. The book is called The Empty Mirror. It’s a Tween Read about a boy who lost his reflection because some sort of being stole it. The following is a quote from him:

I hated the idea of anyone knowing I was strange. I had some hope that I could keep people from finding out…

But I knew.

Who wants to go around knowing there’s something strange about them?

Weird. It feels weird. It’s making me crazy. I’m beginning to lose track of who I am myself. Maybe it’s my punishment for being troublesome. I wish I hadn’t been troublesome. I wish I was more good. I wish I’d studied more instead of reading. I wish I’d gotten on the good side of (my teacher) like (they) did. They aren’t so hot. They don’t get caught is all. (Others) only think (they) are good.

Those last 3 sentences really struck me. I’ve known this my entire life. Everybody has their secrets. Everybody has their sins. Everybody has their troubling behaviors. BUT! Not everybody gets caught – or in my case falsely accused! For whatever reason, it never really sank in until I read it in that book. It isn’t that other people don’t do these things, it’s just that they have received other labels.

What a freeing thought! 

I am not strange. I am not different. The labels given to me have simply been different.

That leads me to the whole point of sharing this.. Why do we label people when we should be encouraging them instead? Nobody is perfect. The only perfect person in this life died on the cross for us. He knows the truth of all things. He knows what we are truly like inside. Instead of stereotyping and labeling people, how about we get to know the real person and not rumors that are spread. How about we encourage people with positive words and not labels, because let’s face it, even positive labels can become difficult to maintain. (Think of the star athlete or straight A student who feels the need to workout or study excessively in order to maintain that label).

Find something that your children aren’t very good at and compliment them on something related to it. Perhaps they aren’t very talented at drawing, but they keep trying. Compliment their persistency or hard work. These things matter, especially during the younger years. Build your children up instead of tearing them down. Open them up to communication and let them know they are trusted. Let them know their opinion matters. Mostly importantly, let them know they are good people.

Were you labeled growing up? What was your label? 

Stories from my Childhood

Stories from my Childhood
(Part 1 of 2)

This week has been a little crazy for us. My younger son and I have both been sick and spent pretty much the entire week in bed. I was going to hold off on posting this, but it has been on my heart for a while and I didn’t want to hold out anymore, plus we are feeling a little better and work must go on. I have to warn you, this post may jump around a little and get lengthy…

I have never been good with words, but I can distinctly remember some events in my life beginning from a young age that made me hold off on talking to people and being open with them. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust them. It was because they didn’t trust me. I felt like it was pointless for me to open myself to others because they never believed me. I had been labeled as being troublesome and a liar.

These stories from my childhood helped shape my life…

Stories from my Childhood by Life as as Convert

Story 1: Starting off by sharing something I have never shared online before but the one that begins them all.. As a kid we were often sent to a certain room to play.  This particular room was an addition to the main living areas and contained our childlike noise quite well. This was deemed the play room and it was the one place we could go and not bother the adults with noise. Inside this room, I was molested by a relative. Repeatedly. Fear kept me from telling anybody. One day an adult came into the room and caught him in the act. I was so relieved that somebody caught him because it meant the molestations would stop. I was wrong. The adults in my life sided with my molester and allowed him to continue living under the same roof. The molestation continued until he moved out.

Story 2: In Kindergarten we had regular nap time. During one nap time I was placed next to this boy. He had a bottle of glue and poured it all out. Then he started smearing it all over the floor. I don’t remember exactly how the teacher was alerted to this, but when she came over the boy instantly blamed me. Of course I denied it, but I got sent to the principals office and reprimanded. The principal was threatening to paddle me because I wouldn’t confess to it. He called my mother and told her what he believed I had done and that he was going to paddle me and I was denying doing it. I don’t know what my mother said to him, but I did not get paddled that day.

Story 3: In 3rd grade, students in my class were taking turns making a paper mache bowl. Every student was making their own and a little station was set up where 2 or 3 kids could work at a time. My turn came up. I wasn’t feeling well that day and had a terrible headache. About half-way through my turn my teacher allowed me to lay my head down on my desk. Some time later, she asked me if I felt good enough to finish. I told her no. Let me repeat that. She ASKED if I felt good. I told her no. She took that as a refusal on my part to do my work. I tried to explain to her that I was simply answering her question. I was sent shamefully to my sister’s classroom and forced to face a wall while students around me where asking what I did to get in trouble and my sister telling me that she was going to tell our parents that I got in trouble. I remember being so upset because I didn’t do anything wrong. I simply answered my teacher’s question.

Story 4: I am in 5th grade and have a science project due. I am supposed to build a mouse trap.  This mouse trap counted as a large percent of our grade. I procrastinated and at the last minute put together a shoebox, a stick, and a string. The idea was simple. I tied the string around the stick and propped the box up on the stick. The mouse would run in, I would pull the string and the stick would come out causing the box to fall and trap the mouse. It wasn’t a genius design, but I worked with the items I could quickly find. I took my mouse trap to school the next day, but due to whatever we had going on in class that day, our teacher wasn’t going to get around to grading them until the following day. Well, that night somebody broke into the school. They took fire extinguishes and sprayed three classrooms. Our classroom was one that got sprayed. As the janitor cleaned, she had to throw away some of the projects that got ruined. Mine happened to be one of the projects that was ruined. When the teacher questioned me about my mouse trap I told her mine was one that got thrown away. She didn’t believe me and I remember having a Parent Teacher Conference not long after and them discussing me not turning in my project. My parents weren’t even involved with helping me complete the project, yet sided with the teacher. Nobody believed that I did the project and I ended up getting a terrible grade that year.

Story 5: Same teacher. Same grade. We are sitting in class with our desks aligned in a “U” shape around the classroom. My desk is along the bottom of the U. We were watching a movie with strict instructions not to pass any notes or talk. One girl kept trying to pass me a note and I kept refusing. I saw some other girls passing notes and just ignored them. I didn’t want to get in trouble! Finally, after multiple attempts, I accepted the note I was passed. I don’t remember what it said, but it was a question with yes or no at the bottom. I circled my answer and sent it back. One of the girls that had been passing notes throughout the entire movie told the teacher on me and I got in trouble. Not only did I get in trouble, I was deemed so untrustworthy that I was forced to move my desk into the middle of the U.. Not the middle of the rows, but literally the middle.

Story 6: In high school my math teacher hated me. Not even joking. She always picked on me and gave me bad grades for “not turning in homework”. She had a basket where she placed all the graded work and we were supposed to go through this basket and pick up our graded work. I hardly did, so one day she was arguing with me that I did not turn in certain homework. I knew she had already graded it because I saw her marks on the page and even saw those assignments in the basket when I was getting other work out, so I went to that basket and found all the work she accused me of not turning in and gave it to her. She left the classroom crying and next thing I knew the principal came in and was escorting me out because I “cursed the teacher out” and was being troublesome.

Story 7: Fast forward some many years later when Losh was born and still in the NICU… From having Kaia, I was in a few preemie support groups. A lot of members overlapped in these groups and I am still good friends with some of these parents today. At our peak, I talked to these parents every day. We talked about how our kids were doing. We got and gave support. We rejoiced in the happy times and cried in the sad ones. When Losh was born, I expected the same support. I mostly got that, except for one group. I don’t know what caused the members in this group to doubt anything, but they did not believe Losh had all the problems I told them he had or that Kaia’s dad had died. I even shared pictures with them, yet they refused to believe it. I was so hurt. I liked these people. Here I am, a single mom, with two young kids, one critically ill in the hospital turning to these people to help hold me up during one of the toughest times of my life and instead of getting support from these people, I got kicked out of the group! (I am grateful for those that remain my friends and know the journey Losh has been on)

So, what do all these stories from my childhood have to do with this blog?

Stay tuned Wednesday to find out more…

Activity Day Girls Lesson Idea – Communication

I was called to be an Activity Day Girls leader a few months ago. It had been on my heart that I needed a calling, but I didn’t want to do Young Women – it terrifies me – and I had already been in Primary – didn’t think I would be going back there – so, without an idea of my own, I said nothing at all to my Bishop (what kind of crazy person ASKS for a calling anyway?). When I received the “Bishop needs to talk with you” message, I halfway knew what was coming. I didn’t expect to be called to Activity Day Girls though. Frankly, I had no clue what they even did.

But, not one to turn down a calling, I said yes – and then went home and turned to Google. I realized that I had to teach young girls Gospel principles but also include some sort of activity. Seemed daunting. Thank God for Pinterest and SugarDoodle!

LDS Activity Day Girls Lesson Idea by LifeAsAConvert

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How to Keep kids busy at Church

We can all pretty much agree that until kids reach a certain age, no matter what you do, they aren’t going to be 100% into the message being given at Church. That is why I am writing this post today. To share with you the things I do to keep kids busy at church.

How to Keep Kids Busy at Church - by LifeAsAConvert(Source)

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