Who am I?
How do we help someone develop a strong identity? As we grow we all face the difficulty of forming our identity. In this chapter, we had the opportunity to explore a few interesting reflections on what identity is and how it develops. A few thoughts that stood out:
- "In terms of identity and adult independence, today's twenty-three-year-old is often the developmental equivalent of a seventeen-year-old in 1980" (p. 53). Don't assume it's just like it was "when you were a kid".
- God has designed our brains to be part of that process. We are concrete in our thinking in this until around 9th grade when we can conceptualize in more abstract ways.
- Even if a child is inconsistent, as an adult in their life we must remain consistent.
- In speaking about maturity in faith, Paul notes: Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming (Eph. 4:14).
Nurturing Sticky Identities
Powell and Clark continue to engage with very practical sections (pp. 56-66) on how we can partner in prayer and action in the Holy Spirit's work in a young disciple's life. We encourage you to read this section for very concrete examples that will help you see what this looks like in the everyday.
- Remember Your Child Is God's Beloved Creation: Call them not to actions but living with an identity as one loved by God. There is nothing more they can do or be that could increase God's love for them. (By the way, that is the freeing message of the gospel: Christ's work alone has given us a relationship with God. You couldn't do more...)
- Parental Warning: Parents link their identities to their kids (external) actions, so it can be just as important that the adult also build their identity on being loved by God for the greatest benefit to their kids.
- Treat Each Child as an Individual
- Use Your Community to Develop Personal Identity: We are all a "person-in-community" so our identity has both an individual/personal aspect but also a connected-with-others aspect. Especially as a Christian, I do not live only for myself. As I engage with Christ's community, I discover who I am and who God is calling me to be.
- Use Rituals to Reinforce Identity: Can be daily (dinner, meal times, etc.) or yearly celebrations (birthdays, vacation, anniversary, first day of school, etc.).
- Help Your Child Grow through Hardship: Difficulties (large or small) are often the crucible that creates opportunity for growth (Rom. 5:3-4). Allow them to see you deal with challenge/difficulties.
- Use Extracurricular Activities to Explore Identity: Celebrate who they are, not just what they accomplish or skills.
- Clark's example (p. 63): "I used to buy milkshakes for a goal scored, until our late-bloomer second child said driving home after another goalless afternoon, "I guess I'll never get a milkshake, huh, Dad?"
- Affirm Character Growth More Than Academic Achievement
- Model a Relationship with God
Ephesians 2:10: For we are God’s handiwork... Remember your child is a masterpiece!
Good questions on p. 67 to explore with another person but let's discuss #4. See you in the comments below!
Name some ways you can emphasize who your child is (a beloved child of God) rather than what your child does. How would this emphasis change your approach to your child's extracurricular activities or academic achievements?
Check out the series or follow-up on the conversations in the posts below:
- An Invitation to Sticky Faith for the Generations (Our intro/invite post)
- Sticky Faith (Ch. 1): The Not-So-Sticky-Faith Reality
- Sticky Faith (Ch. 2): The Sticky Gospel
Next week: Chapter 4 "sticky faith conversations".