Teagan has, since her birth, been known to all of us as the little sister. The baby sister. That changed the day that Quinn came. Teagan’s now wearing two hats in our family – little sister to Ani, and big sister to Quinn.1
How we identify her is in large part via her relationships to others. How she identifies herself is tied up in those relationships, too. Rightly or wrongly.
And I’ve seen Teagan change her behavior to match the role that she’s filling at any one moment, alternately trying on the big and little sister roles to see which fit any given situation. She’s fiddling with expectation and agency. It’s fascinating to watch, particularly as the role of big sister is a new one for her. But she’s picking it up quite nicely.
All of the above to say this – I know that the people around us will rise to the level of expectation we have for them, which is why we should always set high expectations.2
But I’m re-realizing this morning that our expectations and relationships and even our identities are wrapped up in our relationships with others.
And I’m thinking about how I can honor existing relationships while building better ones in the context of high expectations.
How do we, I wonder, work to build, support and sustain roles and relationships that help us all to aim high and be better?
That’s a heavy question for a Monday, but a good reminder for the week.
- There are several other hats or roles that she wears, but you get the idea. [↩]
- One reason Teagan is a great big sister is that we believed that she would be and we told her so. Had we said that she wouldn’t be able to handle it, she probably wouldn’t have. Funny how that works, and how we so often tell people that they’ll be unsuccessful before we even let them try. [↩]