"Who am I?"
There comes a time when you ask yourself this question as you begin forming your character, beliefs, purpose, and more.
Kids can feel pulled in all directions while trying to determine "who" they are and how they fit in. The world feeds them lies that they're not good enough and need to be a certain way, or fit into a specific mold.
As parents, we want to raise healthy, confident kids who grow into thriving adults. We want to help our kids understand that their identity is rooted in how God has created them and that they serve a unique purpose. We want to encourage them to pursue God's will in their lives.
Conversations about identity will change and evolve based on your child's stage of life. Here are 4 things we can do as parents to encourage our kids to step into their God-given identity.
Preschoolers - God made you and loves you
Genesis 1:27 says - “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
It's never too early to instill an understanding of God's love by reading The Beginner's Bible with your kids. This Bible brings stories to life for preschool-aged kids!
Take a walk and point out the trees, birds, and other nature. Let them know that God made everything they see. Teach them that people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and God loves them all!
Let them know that there's nothing they can do to make God love them any less!
Elementary Kids - God made you wonderful
Psalm 139:14 says - “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous- how well I know it.”
Elementary kids may seek identity in certain abilities like the sports they play, if they can run fast or not, if they're the tallest in their class, or if they're good at math and reading.
Remind your child that they don't have to earn God's love or be the best and brightest for him to love them. He loves them just as they are!
Take it a step further and look to value their interests. Ask for them to teach you how to play their favorite video game, ask about their art project, or help them practice their sport - all while being supportive and encouraging.
Middle Schoolers - You are a masterpiece
Ephesians 2:10 says - “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Many forces can mess with a preteen's self-esteem: social media, school, peers, and family issues. What we say or don't say matters because we can help or hurt without realizing it.
Approach their shortcomings and mistakes from a place of understanding. Be graceful and open-minded when they feel comfortable enough to admit when they've made a mistake.
Take breaks from social media as a family to have encouraging conversations and dive into what it means to be complete in Christ.
High Schoolers - You have a purpose
Jeremiah 29:11 says - “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Matthew 5:14-16 says - “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
High schoolers will think about what comes after graduation: college, internships, and careers. They may begin to try and figure out their God-given purpose while attempting to fulfill their desires for what they'd like to do with their lives.
When they're faced with big life decisions, ask questions to encourage conversation rather than telling them what to do and pray together about it.
Some decisions may bring setbacks or failures. When this happens, assure them that God is carving out a path for their lives, and they should look to him for guidance.
Remember, with each of these stages It's important to pray about everything. Here's a prayer you can say together:
Dear God. Thank you for making us in your image and loving us just as we are. Please remind us that you created us for a purpose. Help us shine your light wherever we go. Thank you for never leaving me and helping me be the best person I can be. Amen.
When we lean into who God created us to be, we can carry out his Kingdom and influence the world around us. Trust that God's hand is on every area of your child's life, and pray that he will continue to shape them.
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