Are You Labeling Your Kids? I Am!

I am excited to be involved with the MOPS ministry again. This time I am one of the coordinators so I got the year's theme in advance.

It is a list of words.

Great words.

Words loaded with significance and strong meaning.

 I decided that I wanted to write about each of those words as they came up, but I am finding that that is not as easy as I thought it would be. Last week's theme word for MOPS was "Sensible" so it has been on my mind all week, but I could not think of what to write on this topic. There is so much that can be said, and yet I wanted to be somewhat specific. Then it hit me. For a couple of weeks now I have been mulling over the idea of writing about labeling our children.

I mean actually putting words on our children that describe how we feel about them and shows others what we expect our children to become. Sometimes we do it jokingly or even unintentionally.

I am not talking about name tags or sticky notes. I am talking about "message T-shirts."

What do message T-shirts have to do with being sensible?

In scripture, this word is also translated "of sound mind," "reasonable" and "wise." The American College Dictionary says, "having, using, or showing good sense or sound judgement."

I believe that it is important to "show sound judgement" and wisdom when dressing our children. We need to think about what we buy and put on them because that is one more way of "speaking" either blessing or cursing into their lives - - of "prophesying" who or what they will become by subtly showing them what we think.

I started thinking about this a lot in recent weeks because I care for a tiny boy while his sweet, young, single mother goes to college and works a full time job. At least once a week he shows up wearing a shirt bearing words like "Warning: Here comes Trouble." Every time I see these shirts I cringe. I want to turn them inside out so that the words do not proclaim to everyone we see that he is a difficult child. Aside from the naughty moments that you would expect from a child of his age, he is no trouble at all! He is a sweet, obedient, smiley little boy. Occasionally I catch little comments from his family members that make me wonder if that is what they actually think of him, but I believe that they know that he really is sweet. I am sure that they simply find those shirts amusing.

Over the years we have received a few of these types of shirts in bags of hand-me-downs and I have never kept a single one. I don't want people to think that my son is a "Wild Child" or a "Holy Terror" or that my daughter is "Sassy" or  a "Future Rock Star" (those people have miserable lives, do I really want that for my daughter?).
But it is so much more than what people think of my child when they read the T-shirts that I've placed on them, it's about  their character. What do I expect of my children now? What do I expect of them in the future?

My neighbor down-state has a good word for this. She would call it a "self-fulfilling prophesy." In other words, because you believe it, it will come true.

I had not thought about it much until now, but I realized that I have always believed this so strongly that the only talking shirts that I have ever allowed are those with positive messages. In fact, I have unintentionally been intentional about it all this time. 

You will find shirts in my daughters' drawers that say "Sweet Girl" or "Daddy's Girl." One of my sons wears a football shirt that says "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." (It took me a while to figure out that it means that you have to put in some effort to accomplish your goals and dreams - I wonder how many other people have to think about it for a while after reading it...) The other day I was in a store and found little shirts for my tiny boy that said "Mom's Most Valuable Player." I almost bought one in every size.

You see, I want my girls to be sweet and my boys to put in some effort toward reaching their goals (among other things) and I feel that this is one more way to say it out loud. I would buy shirts that say "I'm Responsible, Loyal, Loving, Kind, Patient, Precious to God, etc., etc., etc. " because those are qualities that I want to "prophesy" into their lives and I want to see them either "self-fulfilled" or "God-fulfilled" in my children.

Now that I have put some thought into it, I will be intentionally intentional from now on. Will you? It is the sensible thing to do!


Brandy said...

I love this post. I have always been really big on speaking things over my child. We have a scripture that we have spoken over my son every since I was pregnant with him. Jeremiah 1:5

But I will be honest, I've never put much thought into the clothes that he wears. I know he has a couple of shirts that the more I think about it, I really don't want that spoken over my child.

What is awesome is that I have read 3 other blogs today that have dealt with the way we raise our children. I truely believe God is trying to tell us all something. I hope to put together a post on my blog tonight that reflects what I have read today. I fully intend on linking my post back to yours. So that others can come read it for themselves. I hope when you get a chance you'll come over to my page and view the post.
God Bless!

Anonymous said...

I signed up to receive notifications for your blog a little while ago. I am not disappointed!! I love today's blog and totally agree with its message. Good for you! :) I think what I like most about it is the underlying principle of "intentionally" raising your kids.

Confessions of a Martha said...

Thank you for your kind comments. I am so glad that you were able to be blessed and learn from this article.
Brandy - what a great verse to claim for your child! I would love to read what you have written, please leave the url for your blog next time. Thanks!

joyfully2b4u said...

and the kinds of clothes that we dress them in can also have a kind of message about them, too =)

This post made me smile. Thanks for sharing these thoughts!

Confessions of a Martha said...

...Don't get me started on THAT, Joy! I have plenty to say on that topic as well. It is a whole chapter in a book that I am trying to write, but I want to say all of that very carefully so it is something that is still in the "praying stage" rather than the "written stage."

Julie said...

Thank you for writing on this topic. It's nice to see that I'm not alone on watching what my kids' clothing literally says. Thanks for the encouragement :)

Jacinda @ Growing Home said...

Excellent post! I too cringe when I see T-shirts that make light of evil things under the guise of something that supposed to be "cute."

I not a real big label fan to begin with, but I do have a weakness for little girl t-shirts that say things like "Daddy's girl", or "My Heart belongs to Daddy," or "I was fearfully and wonderfully made."

I discovered your blog through the Raising Homemakers link-up and will be following; you're a very good writer!

Anonymous said...

I so agree! i'm not crazy about words on shirts, even if they just have the name of a place or something. Some of the ids' shirts are cute (myu 2yo son had pj's that said "Mommy's Space Explorer" last summer) but really. Trouble?> "I want candy"? ugh

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