Looking for, and indeed finding their identity in outward appearance, achievements and external values comes extremely easily to most children. Why should this be so?
The most obvious reason is that these and similar attributes are considered worth striving for, or even admired, by the majority of parents and teachers. Children are praised for being cute and clever, for saying something amusing and for winning competitions. Thanks to their parents it is not long before they internalize the following three widely held principles, and then begin to live by them.
- Being physically attractive and having the admiration of others makes me a special person.
- Performing well, achieving and completing difficult tasks causes others to accept me.
- Having a high social standing and being recognized socially means that I am of greater importance.
All well and good, but what happens to children who are not particularly bright, sporty or otherwise entertaining?
Or what happens to children who were never leaders in school activities or who are aggressive by nature?
Sad though it is, adults often either compare them with their peers or simply reject and ignore them. The result is that the lack of acknowledgement will cause such children to question their own identity and lose all self-esteem, resulting in a total lack of confidence. Satan makes very good use of the false values prevalent in today’s society.
It is also quite possible that children will inherit these identity and self-esteem struggles from their parents; parents who in their own childhood struggled with the exact same obstacles. Individuals who were moulded by false images of identity, self-awareness or acceptance in their early formative days do not necessarily automatically lose the habit when they are older. They continue to base their identity on external values and tend to pass the mindset on to their children. We need to help our children to find their identity and acknowledgement in Jesus, and to do that we need to present them with a positive role model in our own lives.