I was talking to some young moms in the not-too-distant past. I was sharing with them the three things that I felt were most important in building a child. They are their personal identity, spiritual identity, and family identity.
These 3 things are the anchors in every child’s life. They are the things that will give them roots when the rest of the world is uprooted. They will give a strong foundation to a person instead of allowing them to feel as if they are standing on sinking sand. These 3 things are VITAL.
Personal Identity. – How your child views themselves is critical. It’s the basis for a healthy self-esteem and it gives them confidence (or lack thereof.) Their personal identity fuels them to reach for their dreams, or allows them to feel they are undeserving and unworthy of anything.
You can build your child’s personal identity by reinforcing who they are. Help shape them by showing them how unique and special they are. Comment and praise them often and be there to listen and pick them up when they are low. Don’t give them false compliments – but encourage, love, and support them. Accept them and love them while helping them flourish in the gifts and character qualities that God has especially set in their hearts.
Spiritual Identity – Faith in God is the most important legacy you can leave your children. It starts out as something they model from you. But as they get older, they discover if their faith is something personal and something they truly believe on their own.
You can do many things to nurture their faith in God. Pray with them, go to church with them, enjoy Christian music with them, read stories and talk about God’s Word. Let them ask questions and be honest when you don’t know the answer. Let them see that God is important to you. Not just a ritual or a tradition that you’re “supposed” to do – but something you truly believe.
Let your walk imitate your talk.
Family Identity – We all look back on our childhood years and see how we were influenced and shaped by the families we grew up in. Whether we deny it or not, all throughout life we are continually affected by how we identified with our family. Sharing life together, loving each other, being involved in each other’s interests and activities, dreaming together, and passing down heirlooms are super important.
We can leave our children a great heritage and one that is carefully chosen by how we allow their siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to integrate into their lives. How we speak of them and how we involve them shapes our child’s “family identity.”
You have it within your power to leave a positive legacy for your children and help build all three of these identities in their lives. Get creative. Find ways to encourage who they are and look for ways to show them that God is real. Help them bond with relatives and involve them in your child’s life. Even if you come from a dysfunctional family, there are ways that you can positively allow them to help shape your child’s identity. Sometimes it just has to come in smaller doses or within set boundaries. But it can be done.
If you want to raise a healthy, happy child who in turn becomes a confident, healthy, generous, respectful, and thankful adult - focus intentionally on their personal, spiritual, and family identity.
It’s the cornerstone to everything.