A Thirty Day Devotional adapted from the NEW book: Identity: The Distinctiveness of You – Day 30
My children will stand firm in their faith. Isaiah 7:9
My children will not turn to the right or to the left; they will walk in the way of the Lord, that they may live and prosper. Deuteronomy 5:32-34
Even as newborns, children recognize smells and the voices of those around them. While my children were still in their mother’s womb, I would talk to them, pray over them and let them know who I was and how we anticipated their birth. We would even read stories to them in utero. From the womb we wanted our children to know their worth and value within our family. When born, each of my children recognized my voice, as though they knew me and had met me before.
Children also know and recognize who strangers are very early on. They will typically not go into just anyone’s arms if they do not recognize the smell or the voice. This new voice may feel strange to them and they may resist. Even tiny babies recognize differences, as well as similarities.
It is said that children are not born with identities; those identities are formed over time from belonging, acceptance and affirmation, safe relationships with family, community (like extended family or church family) and environment. Children receive messages concerning their identity that are spoken and unspoken. Most children recognize a response of shame, rejection or disapproval without one single word being verbalized.
Further, a child’s identity relates to a number of other contributing factors like their own personal self-concept built by long-term relationships, their memories of life events that help to build their life stories, being listened to, their opportunities to explore, making decisions for themselves, experiencing failure and even how conflict is dealt with around them.
God has expectations of His children, but it is not our performances or our accomplishments that gain His approval. God is perfect, yet He is not into perfectionism. In our mere existence, He approves of us.
The answer to a child’s healthy identity is not a high-esteem originating from some form of performance. The answer is a God-realized love and approval along with your love, acceptance, and approval of your child. These two main ingredients are foundational to your child’s healthy identity.
I must correct and reward my children. It’s a part of life. However, I must differentiate that while reward and correction have to do with behavior, it is never a question that I love and accept their personhood. In their mere existence, they are important to me. I always approve of them as individuals. They can never do anything to not be my children.
Strong and affirmative encouragement and approval from parents and grandparents will help your child to feel safe, capable, optimistic, well-adjusted and positive. In reality, most role models that are positive, encouraging and life-giving to a child will help to build a positive identity. We must take action to keep our children from negative, demeaning or destructive influences in their lives.
In Galatians 4:19, Paul the Apostle wrote, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Paul’s goal was to form or to build Christ, not himself. I love the picture this presents because all the security and all the identity your child needs are not found in you, his/her parent, but in Christ Jesus.
Finally, parenting requires a huge level of humility. If we learn to approach our parenting with a spirit of humility, we will be able to admit when we are wrong. We will also be able to apologize to our children allowing our children to change us. Pride will certainly not help us in our parenting.
Question for refection:
How can you more effectively build Christ in your natural and spiritual children?
Watch for a bonus blog tomorrow!
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