Elazar Bloom
Elazar Bloom

Parenting Parsha for Toldot: “To Label or Not to Label?”

Image: Annie Spratt

“And the youths grew up….Esau was a man who understood hunting, a man of the field, whereas Jacob was an innocent man, dwelling in tents.”(Genesis 25:27)

Do you label your child(ren)? Is she the goofy, athletic one and he the quiet, musical one? Is labeling helpful? Is it harmful? In my experience, it’s a fine line. On the one hand, we try and identify our child’s natural inclinations, gifts and interests in order to help him develop to his potential. On the other, children can really surprise you!  Just beneath the surface may lie latent skills and passions that even he is unaware of.  If we become overly fixated on a label we won’t consider the possibility that our athlete may have artistic talent and create opportunities for that capacity to emerge.  Sadly, we can inadvertently prevent those hidden gifts from being brought to life. From the womb Esau looked like a lumberjack, and he certainly was “a man of the field”, but wasn’t he much more? What might this label have robbed him of?

Rather than applying labels that are engraved, sewn or even “sharpied” in, think of them as “post-its”; use them as long as they are helpful, throw them away when they are not and if they really stick, you can always attach them with something stronger.   

Rabbi Elazar Bloom, LMFT is an educator and licensed psychotherapist in private practice. To learn more about his work, visit: www.elazarbloom.com

About the Author
Rabbi Elazar Bloom is Rav Ruchani at Brauser Maimonides Academy in Fort Lauderdale, FL. and is in private practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
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