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  • Writer's pictureLyndsay Terry

Helping Your Children Find Their Identity in Jesus

Our kids get plenty of messaging - even in their small, little worlds. They get some pretty negative messages from social media, culture, other kids, etc. Messages like...

"You are weird because..."

"You need to look like (fill in the blank) to be attractive."

"You should try to be more like (blank) if you want to fit in."

But they also hear messages that aren't being spoken to them directly. Messages telling them they need to look a certain way, act a certain way, wear certain clothes, go certain places, drink/smoke certain things, be promiscuous, question their identity, stand out, fit in, push back against religion, live their truth, follow their heart, live life on their own terms, and so much more.

What do they hear from us? Oh sure, we want to make sure they grow up to not be entitled brats, but are kind, contributing members of society with good hearts and good attitudes. So we give chores, we place high value on education and extracurricular activities because we want them to be well-rounded individuals (why is being "well-rounded" better than extremely good at one or two things?). But is that it? Is that our only way to help them be secure in who they are?

Listen, I don't think those things are bad and we should have our kids doing chores and contributing to the family well-being, we should have a focus on education and it's fine to enjoy extracurricular activities. BUT! What are we doing to develop their identity that isn't defined by their performance? What are we doing to help them securely attach their heart to Jesus, to believe what God says about who they are, to live as victors instead of victims, to think like Jesus, act like Jesus, sound like Jesus, and pray like Jesus?

I think it's super easy to let that hit the back burner when it comes to parenting. It is hard to be intentional and not just let life happen, but happen to life! It's hard when there's piles of laundry, dishes in the sink, a baby crying, confusion about homework, practices to attend, dinner to make, baths to be had, and bedtime stories to read. It's hard. I get it. But above EVERYTHING, I want my kids to be wholehearted, believing they are exactly who God says they are. All the good in life flows from that place. So I want to make sure they are secure there first and foremost.

What are some practical ways to do that?

  1. Intentionally and regularly speak words of life over your kids. I like to remind my kids that the Bible says they are the head and not the tail, they are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, they have the mind of Christ and can think like Jesus, they are chosen, called, accepted, and adopted. They are heirs to God's Kingdom and Jesus is their friend, brother, and King. If God is for them, what can stand against them? No weapon formed against them shall prosper. They have a glorious inheritance awaiting them. They are fearfully and wonderfully made. The King is enthralled by their beauty. All of those things are found in scripture (you can google that to find scriptures). Try speaking those over yourself leave that conversation feeling pretty pumped up and loved by God. I like to remind my kids of this before they go to sleep. Whatever negative or confusing messaging they received throughout the day can be washed away by God's truth and their hearts and minds can meditate on His truth while they sleep peacefully.

  2. Reinforce their value by looking in their eyes when they speak to you. They are the most precious gifts God has given to you outside of salvation...treat them that way! They are not an interruption to more important things...they are the MOST important things. When our sons and daughters grow up feeling valued and cherished, they look for partners who will also value and cherish them and are less likely to settle with someone who treats them poorly. If that's not the standard they've been accustomed to their whole life, why should it be now?

  3. Invite them into what God is teaching you. Share how God speaks to you and what He's saying. It helps them learn to hear God and value His voice. I like to listen to sermons in the car...some of it may be over their heads, but it's a good, healthy stretch for them and I try to pause it and answer questions when they aren't understanding. I also like to ask them if God has been speaking to them lately or what they have read in the Bible recently that was meaningful to them. Help them learn to love and cherish the Word of God.

  4. Find God in everyday moments. I recently heard someone share how even something as mundane and "unspiritual" as losing a tooth can be an opportunity to share the gospel with our kids. We lose the old tooth - the old man - which makes way for our new tooth - our new life in Jesus. It's fully mature and helps us live how we were intended to live (eating and chewing). Even bringing the tooth fairy into it - she sees value in our tooth and comes to give money for the tooth just like Jesus sees the value in our lives as his creation and he paid the price for our sins and brings us new life. If you have trouble turning ordinary moments into spiritual conversations, ask the Lord to help you see him throughout the day and working in your life. He will answer that prayer!

  5. Have fun and be silly with them! I know we have tons to do and we are stressed, but it will be good for your heart to let loose for a bit with your kids too! I like to play "Would You Rather" with my kids around the kitchen table. They think it's great when mom is silly and there are some pretty silly questions you can ask while playing that game! Let your kids ask the questions too! You may get questions like, "Would you rather eat a hot pepper or die?" (Courtesy of my four year old) but that just makes it more fun! Laugh with them. They need to know that they bring you JOY and that being their parent brings you loads of happiness.

We won't get it all right. Well definitely mess up and say things we regret or yell when we shouldn't or be too impatient, but if they get those 5 things listed above from us often enough, it overcomes the messes we make because JESUS overcomes those messes when we invite Him into our parenting and conversations. There's grace for our messes. And love covers a multitude of sin.

If we learn to make Jesus the most important priority in our family, He will honor that! It can't be Jesus AND...nothing is on the same level as Jesus. Jesus first, everything else is secondary. That gives our kids a strong, unshaken foundation to build their life on. That teaches our kids their value and identity is found in Christ, not their skill as an athelete or their intellect or their fashion choices. Not their performance in any area. Just Jesus and what He has done!

Hope this is helpful! Let me know how I can pray for your parenting journey and the season you find yourself in now! 🩷

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