a breakfast serial

One bite-sized story every morning to uplift, motivate, or provoke thought.

When Mom Says Your Full Name

< by Jill >

There’s this old cliché that parents use their child’s full name when their kiddo is in BIG trouble.

Beth becomes ELIZABETH ROSE JOHANSEN! and Jon becomes JONATHAN EDWIN BROWN! and it’s all done in an angry shout or a simmering monotone with flavors of I’m going to get you. Well, gold stars for my parents because they did the opposite: They used my full name to build me up.

In the fall of 1992, at the age of 6, I ran for student council. I hammered out a platform — Plant more trees on campus! Fill the drinking fountains with pop! — and pitched it during a 10-second speech to my classmates. When the ballots were counted, the intercom crackled to life and issued the results: The class representative for Ms. Lundmark’s class is … Amy Anderson!

My little heart broke. I went home from school, a mix of sad and mad — Amy’s mom was the president of the PTA, so clearly this was a backroom deal — and found comfort in my mom’s arms. She held me close and said, “You are Jill Hallstrom Klosterman. You are Sandy Hallstrom Klosterman’s daughter. You can do anything!”

Now, I know that my generation has a reputation for entitlement and narcissism. And you could easily pin it on overly positive parents who told their kids, “You can do anything!” But for me, the words “You can do anything!” never meant “You can become a Harlem Globetrotter astronaut-surgeon!” but rather, “You’re loved. You’ve got worth. You come from a line of hardworking people, and you’ll carry that line forward. You’ll figure it out.”

All of those sentiments were expressed whenever mom and dad called me by my full name.

So, if your full name connotes punishment rather than pride, find a mirror and change the tune. Say, “I am [First Middle Last], I am [Mom/Dad’s] [Son/Daughter] and I can do anything!”

9 Comments»

  Jorie wrote @

Love this, Jill. Perfectly put. 🙂

  abreakfastserial wrote @

Thank you Jorie!

  on thehomefrontandbeyond wrote @

love this!

  abreakfastserial wrote @

Glad you enjoyed it!

  Larry Who wrote @

My parents were two of the greatest encouragers in the world, too. In fact, if I would have told them I wanted to be a Harlem Globetrotter astronaut-surgeon, they would have encouraged me to be the best one ever. But yet, if Dad spoke my three names, I knew I was in trouble for something.

  abreakfastserial wrote @

Your parents certainly were encouraging! We’re lucky folks, huh?

  Carolyn Hallstrom wrote @

Jill, Glad my name is Hallstrom….love cousin ch…..thanks

  Cathy Adman wrote @

I think this is crazy…why would this even be important to you as an adult?! Do you KNOW it was a backdoor deal – just because YOU didn’t win?! That is a bit unfair to be accusatory – and especially since you are now an adult? I am sorry – I think you need to let it go!

  abreakfastserial wrote @

Hi Cathy! I’d like to clarify–I was making a joke. It would be absurd to think there would be backroom dealings for first-grade student council. I’m happy to report that Amy was a wonderful class representative and we enjoyed years of friendship throughout school.


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