Over the next several months, the Faith-Building Fun ideas will focus on how to open your child’s spiritual windows. For additional insights about ways to nurture your child’s faith, read the book Opening Your Child’s Spiritual Windows by Cheri Fuller.
The Identity Window:
Every child has a name—one carefully thought about even before the child was born. I remember the conversations that my husband and I had about names before our first son was born. We went through name after name before we landed on two girls’ names and two boys’ names. (Since God ultimately blessed us with three sons, those girls’ names never did get used!) The two boys’ names were Andrew Timothy and Joel Matthew. We carefully selected those names based on two criteria: one, was it a biblical name; and two, what was the meaning of the name. Andrew is Scottish but traces its roots to a Greek word that means strong or manly and Joel comes from the Hebrew and means Yahweh is God. My husband and I debated both names, liked them both, and ultimately decided we would wait until the baby was born to decide what this child would be called. Upon the arrival of a ten-pound baby boy, we quickly came to the conclusion that Andrew seemed like the appropriate and logical choice. Interestingly, Andrew has commented numerous times that he was glad we didn’t name him Joel because it just didn’t seem to “fit.”
Names are a part of our identity; they provide clarity about who we are. The definition of identity is, “the condition of being oneself and not another.” We were created to be who we are, and who we are is first and foremost a child of God with a name that helps identify us as a specific person. Helping your child see themselves as a unique child of God is a significant task of parenting. Opening their identity window helps give them value and worth because they are learning from your words and actions that they are deeply loved by you and by God. Ultimately, opening your child’s identity window answers the question, “Who am I?”
However, our children encounter barriers that prevent them from having a clear understanding of their identity. Those barriers come from replacing identity with identification, which is defined as the “labels we assign to ourselves, or allow others to assign to us.” Think about the labels that you have lived with or are currently living with. How have they defined you, hindered you, or caused you to struggle with your identity? Throughout our children’s lives, we can inadvertently describe them by words that become labels and undermine their identity. Peers and other adults can also cause children to struggle with their identity. Labels like lazy, stupid, loud, angry, bad, inferior, or shy all begin to negatively impact a child’s view of self. Other labels like pretty, good, smart, athletic, musical, or gifted, while more positive in nature, can still construct an inadequate and incomplete view of self.
Opening your child’s identity window begins by believing that your child is a reflection of God, an image bearer of the Creator. As you interact with your son or daughter, be mindful that your attitudes, actions, and conversations all work together to shape your child’s view of self. Help your children create an accurate view of self by speaking words of value to them. Let them know that their identity is not in what they do, but in simply that they are a son or daughter of God. Remind them that they are loved, not because of what they did or did not do, but simply because “they are,” and they belong.
The question of “Who am I?” is best answered by remembering that each of us, parent and children alike, are made in the image of God and that our identity is rooted in truly believing and receiving that truth. As you interact with your children this week, look for opportunities to send the following messages:
- You are loved!
- You are enough!
- You belong!
As you send those messages to your children, remember to receive them for yourself; you are a son or daughter of God, you are loved, you are enough, and you belong!