The stereotypical road trip or backpacking across Europe to “find myself” is what many think of when the term “identity” is used. Most of us never did those things, but the single most important developmental issue for teenagers is still identity formation. It usually doesn’t happen during a trip or even a major event. It is a process where every person chooses to find his identity in something. That something will define how they see themselves, what they believe, and who they are for the rest of their lives.
It is definitely one of the key parenting issues we face. In a perfect (sinless) world, our children would answer the question of “who am I” by finding their identity as unique individuals created by God, in His image, for a relationship with Him, and ultimately to glorify Him with their lives. Unfortunately our fallen world presents our teens with countless other appealing options. These modern versions of idolatry seek identity in romantic interests, academic accomplishments, money, possessions, athletics, peer approval, pleasurable experiences, even the pursuit of social causes. Many of these goals are good things to strive for but they are dangerous when they replace Jesus Christ.
As parents, it is our privilege to help our teens recognize and discuss these dangerous attractions and ultimately lead them to find their identity in Christ alone. Much louder than any words we can share are our own life choices and where we find our identity. This will speak volumes.
“even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved.”
Ephesians 1:4-6 (ESV)