October 16, 2018

“I’m Me!”

One of my teen daughters recently decided to “go natural.”

For the last few years, she’s enjoyed experimenting with her “look.” She’s tried different clothing styles, changed her hair length (via cuts on the one hand and extensions on the other) and color (several times!), and played around with different make-up looks. Nothing she’s tried has been inappropriate, so I felt at peace giving her that freedom.

Recently, though, she put away the extensions she’d been wearing daily for months and then asked me to help her get back to her natural hair color. She also stopped painting extended eyelashes onto her lower lids, switched from heavy, black false eyelashes to very lightweight, brown ones, and softened how she’s doing her eyebrows. When I asked why she was switching things around so noticeably, she said a friend had recently seen a picture of her as a little girl and couldn’t believe it was her because she looked so different. Then she said, “I like how I looked then, and I want people to know that I’m me!”

I know it’s common for most every teen – and many adults! – to go through periods of self-doubt, wondering if they’re “okay” just the way they are. I never really thought of my daughter’s experiments in that light – and for some people, playing around with how they look is just lighthearted fun – but I see now in hindsight that her pursuit of different looks may have been her way of working through such apprehension. If so, I’m beyond grateful that she seems to be coming back to a desire to look like herself – the way God naturally made her – and I’ll be aiming to help her stay there.

Unfortunately, many people never feel comfortable within their own skin and really struggle accepting that they were created (within the bounds of what is biblically right) just as they are – on purpose with a unique, individual purpose. Instead, they spend their whole lives doubting their worth and sometimes take their lives in response to their angst. Or they strive for decades to be what others say they should be rather than finding and resting in God’s real purpose for them.

One of the challenges parenting expert Kathy Koch gives in her seminars is, “Accept the child you have, not the one you wanted.”

That’s so spot-on! As parents, we – not classroom teachers, peers, or media – have the greatest influence over how our children feel about themselves. Of course, if our kids don’t sense acceptance from us, they’ll turn to other sources, but God has designed a child’s mind and heart such that, at root, he wants his parents’ acceptance most of all. And it’s our responsibility to help each child unwrap and develop the purposes for which God has designed him – not to attempt to mold him into what we’d like him to be.

Do your kids know today that they were created on purpose – that in God’s plan, they’re not accidents or mistakes? And do they know that He’s given each of them a specific purpose which no one else on the planet can accomplish in their place? Are you cooperating with His purposes for your child – or fighting against them? Can your child honestly and happily – without reservation – exclaim, “I’m me!”

Photo Credit: Bluesrose

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