Everybody has their own strengths and their own giftings. It’s important to be deliberately looking out for what our children are naturally gifted at or interested in and then do everything we possibly can to enable and encourage them in that area. More often than not there will be a cost to this, but we have to look at the sacrifice as an investment into our children’s lives and their identities. It’s a matter of stopping, looking and asking what children are interested in or good at. There will always be things that our children are not good at or can’t do but it’s important to focus on what they can achieve.
Something I told my children that I think is very important was nobody can be you except for you. I believe we were all put on the earth to be us and we’ve all got an important role, so if you don’t learn who you are or your identity then the world is missing out. It’s really important to help our children to see that the world needs them to be who they were built to be and their uniqueness brings value.
Sometimes our children’s identity can be completely different to what we thought it would be. However, it’s important to keep supporting and encouraging who they are even if it’s different from what we imagined. One of the mistakes I made around identity was I would often say how similar a child was to a certain family member. Sometimes if we’re not careful this can encourage children to start to believe they’re so much like the other person that they lose their own uniqueness. Yes there can be and probably always will be similarities between family members, but we still need to help children find their own uniqueness in that.
On the flip side of this, sometimes we’ll see a quality in our children that our spouse, mother, father or some relative has that frustrates us. If we’re not careful we may start to speak about this quality in a negative way which then discourages that quality within our children. Instead we need to find the positives that quality brings and encourage our children in that.
Just like with everything else we are not always going to do it perfectly and there will be times that we miss the mark. It’s about what we are doing the majority of the time not being perfect 100% of the time. If we can be consciously adding value to our children’s identity then that is what is most important.
My son Ben asked me what my overall encouragement would be to give to parents about encouraging our children’s identity. So here it is.
Find out what they are interested in and good at and engage in that and encourage them to pursue it. Remind your children of their value and how important their identity truly is.