How Are You Impacting Your Child’s Identity?


Sitting in a doctor’s office, I was surprised to find out that we were actually seeing the son of a doctor I had made acquaintance with several years prior.  Not wanting to be overtly obvious and wanting to give this man my full attention so that he could properly make a diagnosis, I chose not to bring up the connection too early in our conversation.

Having been to numerous doctors’ offices with my son over the past several years, it didn’t surprise me at all that this young doctor started interacting with us in a casual manner telling us that he had recently graduated from medical school and was finally following in his father’s footsteps.  Becoming a physician was his second career. What did surprise me though was that as the dialogue continued, it became obvious that he was the son who had never quite measured up.  

How sad.

Here was a man most likely in his early 40’s who had not only graduated from medical school and was now a physician, yet his identity was wrapped up in what his parents thought of him.  

I began wondering what lies had been spoken over him in his quest for manhood and approval.  As he made his diagnosis, it was almost as if he was asking if we agreed with him.  

As parents of tweens and teens, it is easy to get frustrated when our kids make mistakes or choose not to do something that we think is in their best interest. But during those times of interaction do we treat them with respect or do we tear them down to the point that their identity becomes mired into thinking of themselves as “failures”.

Like it or not, we are a mirror for our kid’s identity.  Our actions, reactions, words, body language, and facial expressions all send a message that says either “I respect you as a person” or “You don’t measure up”.

We are weaving the foundation for our kids in how they measure up when they face the outside world as well.

  1. Do we offer empathy when their world comes crashing down on them?
  2. Do we console their disappointments and give them hope for their tomorrow?
  3. Do we guide them in how to handle difficulties so they can be more confident?
  4. Do we point them to Jesus Christ as their source of identity?
  5. Do we release them to be who God created them to be rather than who we want them to be?

Colossians 3:21

Do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Romans 15:5

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.

Dare you to take inventory of how you are responding to your teens and the impact you might be making on how they think of themselves.  Better yet, why not ask them how they think you view them.  If the response is not what you had hoped for, try apologizing for your parenting mistakes.  Polish the mirror so they see themselves as God sees them.

“Let go…and let God”,


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2 replies
  1. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    I dare say that many children have faulty perceptions, though. Blaming it all on the parents is not right. I think Nina has a story in Daughters of Sarah where her son saw something one way that wasn’t really that way. I think of my sister. Her “memory” of our childhood differs GREATLY from mine. So which of us is correct?

  2. debbiehitchcock
    debbiehitchcock says:

    Elizabeth, I couldn’t agree with your comment more. Children can have faulty perceptions. I apologize if you thought I was blaming a child’s identity entirely on their parent’s mirror. Nothing could be further from the truth. I do know some parents though who are constantly expecting more and more from their children. What that does is show a child that they can never measure up to their parents’ expectations. It is important to allow a child to “blaze their own trail” rather than become who their parents are pushing them to become. Our goal as parents is to raise children who see themselves as capable of being adults rather than always wondering if they measure up to those around them.

    It sounds like you and your sister think very differently of the way you were raised. And you are right in thinking that the filter is skewed based on each person’s perception. It doesn’t really matter which one is correct. The real question is whether you are seeing your childhood with the mind of Christ. Can the “tough” memories be forgiven?Can you both recognize that your parents weren’t perfect? Can you see your parents through a lens that says they had strengths and weaknesses? My prayer is that you and your sister can see truth from each of your vantage points embracing that God allowed the circumstances of your childhood so that He could use each of you differently to bring Him glory.


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