Who am I?- Helping Children with Identity Webinar
Identity formation is a critical aspect of healthy growth within our children. As parents, we play a pivotal role in helping our children form up and affirm their identity. In this webinar, Brian Sutter discusses the importance of creating relationship, safety, and discussion with our children as they navigate identity questions in their lives.
Identity affects us all very directly. Yet, often much goes without our notice. This course is designed to help you see the role identity plays in your life and how you can more healthily walk in light of it.
The Settled Identity Podcast Episodes
In this podcast series, Amber Miller helps us understand the health that is ours when we place our identity in Christ.
The Search for Significance
Author: Robert S. McGee
Publisher: W Publishing Group
This book is about developing Christ-centered self-worth. It is good for individuals dealing with low self-worth, fear of failure, unhealthy people pleasing, and feelings of inferiority. There is a set of CDs also available.
Welcome to this parenting webinar entitled, Who Am I? Helping Children with Identity. I’m glad to have Brian Sutter with me here. And we’re gonna just have a back and forth as we walk through this content. Brian, yeah, looking forward to this a hot topic.
You know, identity is something that’s been around as long as man has been around, but, just as things go, words catch meaning and they kind of drift, concepts kind of drift in certain eras. And we wake up to maybe significance that otherwise don’t. And I would say the last 10 or 15 years, it’s the identity has kind of drifted in a way that has come on our radar and we see it in many different applications.
And today with our children. Would you agree with that assessment? Yeah, for sure. It does seem like one of those that’s kind of been highlighted and then for good reason, which I think is helpful. But also sometimes when we haven’t thought about it or dug through it a little bit, it’s pretty vague in our mind.
And, to think a little bit more deeply about what makes up identity, what do we mean by that today, and those sorts of things can be pretty helpful. When it does kind of get high. Yeah. So sometimes we say, you know, identity is key, right? And so this webinar is really to help bring some clarity to that.
So that we can see it for what it is. Our objective here is parenting what matters in identity development. And there’s a number of things even in this statement that I would like a little dialogue on, Brian, and that is this concept of identity development.
That’s the way we phrased it. And so there is a nature about identity that is in progress. Is that a good way to say it? Absolutely. And I think that’s one of the things that’s really exciting about this concept of identity. It’s not a destination or that we arrive, but to really be able to see it as something that is always kind of flowing.
It’s always something that is moving and that should, I think, be exciting to us as parents because it gives us opportunity to see no matter where our identity is, or in this context our child’s identity is, that we can influence and we can help it move in the direction that we’re hopeful for because it is something that’s an ongoing process.
And I think knowing that it’s in motion as you explained it tells us what our job is and that it’s to guide the motion or to help that process just as directing a vehicle can be done when it’s in motion, but cannot be done when it’s static, when it’s stationary.
So same type of thing with identity. Yep, exactly. Which again, I think it provoked, hopefully paints a picture of hope and like you said, like how do I come alongside and see that as something that I can participate in? Yeah. Now we mentioned in the line here parenting what matters. I wanna pause on that bold part, what matters, and I just wanna set this concept up that this is gonna be a little bit of what this webinar is about, trying to put our finger on what matters. And I would like to pause at this idea, Brian, and that is figuring out what matters is the difference between a mediocre carpenter from an excellent carpenter, they know what matters and a mediocre, perhaps counselor to an excellent counselor.
Sure. They know what matters. When an expert knows what matters, the doctor. When a doctor knows what matters, it makes ’em really good at diagnosis and it makes ’em really good at treatment because they know what matters. And could we say parenting works along those same veins?
Certainly, I would say, yes. I think that would be the case. And, not that we’ll get it right all the time or that we’ll be an expert in it, but certainly that if we can have this perspective that if I can view identity as something that really is important, and if I can pop the hood to the concept and see underneath what are some of the things that feed into identity and how can we help move identity? What even is identity?
And really identifying those key few things to zero in on. I think that can give us some good direction because it can be such a broad or abstract concept. To have a few things to really zero in and it can be quite helpful. So this is where we’re gonna the path through the content a little bit here on today.
It’s gonna look like this. We’re gonna pause and talk about what identity is, because we haven’t really defined it yet. And so let’s pause there. Brian, identify what identity is, then why does identity matter? Why is it so significant? And then, where does identity reside now?
The key there, again, building off of this, what matters is often knowing where to find something. When a financial advisor knows what matters, they know what questions to ask because they know how to get there. They know where the issue resides. When a doctor knows what matters, they know where to look, what to put under inspection, and that’s what we wanna do here today with identity.
And then finally, number four, how can a parent positively affect a child’s identity development? So some practical things are also some things that we wanna do. Yeah, absolutely. So let’s go ahead and jump right into this Brian, in terms of what is identity?
Well, I’ve got a definition there. A sense of knowing who I am. And that in itself is pretty hard to get your arms around as well. It’s pretty abstract, identity is, isn’t it? Yeah. And I think in many ways, you know, at first blush we can look at that and say, wait a second. That seems fairly simple, but when we are asked to tell our others about ourselves, sometimes that is a very hard question to answer.
Okay, what are they looking for and what do I share? And, particularly as we kind of think about that same question with our kids or our young people, that can get very tricky for them to answer and not having a good sense of who am I, what makes up me as a person, as well as even the layer below that of like, okay, where does my value come from?
Do I have value as an individual? Those are really big pieces that we’re talking about when we’re talking about the concept of identity in our children. You know, and one of the questions that was put forward from a participant was talking about ages here. I would guess this conversation changes with the age of our kids. Is there an age too young or an age too old? What’s your thoughts on that? I wouldn’t see that there’s an age too young or too old as much as just to see that that part of that development will be the things that they identify as important to them or the things that they zero in on as far as who they are gonna change as they age. But we want to be speaking into identity and what their view of themselves is and what we’re hopeful for. And our view of themselves as they move through the lifespan, I think, would be really key. While the topics and the questions may change, the underlying foundation of identity is gonna be there across the.
And so I think that makes our ears perk up a little bit regardless of where our kids are at and how old they are. There is something meaningful to do. That’s what I’m hearing. There’s something meaningful for us as parents to help this process, this development along. Exactly. And, at a very high level, I think what a gift we can give our kids if they can have just a general sense of what their strengths, what their interests are and what their weaknesses are. And, again, for some kids that might be pretty intuitive or they might be able to articulate that pretty well for, but for many that won’t be. And then the layer below that is, okay, what’s the meaning that I put to that? What’s the meaning that I put to this, that I have this strength or this weakness or this desire?
Those would be at a high level. Some of the things we. Speaking. So for you to even bring that up, I’m guessing those three things do filter into a person’s identity. These are some of the building blocks that a young person is using to look at themselves. I’m strong at this. I’m weak at this. I have a desire for that. And as a parent, being aware of those things as well. Exactly. Okay, I think that’s helpful as we think about what identity is. This concept of knowing who I am and then for what purpose? Why does identity matter? We’ve got three things down here.
Identity provides a grounding, self-worth, and belonging. Maybe take each of those and expand them. I mean the first one here, grounding. I think it just gives a sense of direction, particularly in a day and age where personhood is so undefined and there’s so many options that can be very overwhelming, particularly for children.
And, so I see identity and some framework of identity as being very grounding. If you’re going on a trip for somewhere, if you don’t know where you’re at to start with and you don’t know where you’re headed, It’s nearly impossible to do that trip. So it’s grounding in the sense that it gives us a sense of where to start from.
What is personhood? What does it mean to be a person? Where does value come from? Which kind of takes us into that second piece. And that is, can I interject right now though, Brian? Just to further talk about that grounding term, because I think a word that we all connect with our kids is insecurity.
Think of our young people with insecurities. And that in a sense is speaking to grounding, isn’t it? I’m picturing a person who’s trying to stand up on a inner tube on the water, and they just don’t have much grounding. They don’t have security. Right? Right. And the whole thing gets upset pretty quickly.
And, we see that in our kids in many ways as well. So this concept I have identity is grounding in the sense of security. Right, and I think it comes back to what I mentioned just a few minutes ago, that if we can have a good sense of, you know what, I’m actually good at this and I can know that and step into it, that can be really grounding or I’m not good at this and that I can know that and accept that doesn’t mean that I don’t work on it or pursue growth in that area.
But it’s grounding. I don’t have to hide this anymore. Whether it’s a strength or a weakness, I can say, okay, you know what, actually God’s really gifted me in the area of academics. The area of maybe athletics is an area, there’s a weakness that just can be part of who I am. That can be grounding.
It doesn’t have to be something that shakes, you know, my value or my worth, or the opportunity to build relationships or do various things. It can just be part of who I am and, okay. Sure. So let’s talk about the self-worth. Yeah. And, then the self-worth part really is the foundational piece of identity and thinking about and helping our children think about where worth comes from.
And, this is gonna be true for all of us, that our natural conclusions about where worth comes from are not going to be accurate. Our natural conclusions almost always come from a place of achievement or accomplishment or what other people think, and we want to be able to say no. A sense of identity, a sense of being personhood, being a created being by a creator who said, I have worth and value really grounds and gives worth to an individual no matter what they’re able to accomplish or not accomplish. Brian? I think, suicide is more on our mind and in our reality than perhaps what it was 25 years ago, in the United States among young people, right? We see that trend.
And, I would have to believe that there is a worth, hence an identity part, that unwinding in a young person’s life that would lead them to that tragic end. Is that, I’m very using broad brushes here. Yeah. I mean, I think that certainly is a factor there. That when that starts to unravel and we feel like we’re, we’re not measuring up or there’s not any value or worth, then what is the purpose and point and therefore sometimes that feels like the viable option out. So, I look at this picture right here.
We’ve got a Letterman’s jacket, right? Which I think embodies all of these things at some level, right? Right. This person finds some self-worth because of achievement and they’ve earned their letter. There is a grounding on saying, who am I, these are my colors and this is my.
And I am a part of this. And there’s some belonging there too, right? Of all of that, right. To say this is where I fit. I am not aimless but I fit someplace. So speak to that grounding part, the belonging part is, I think it is, it’s in my mind part of how God’s created us, that we want to belong to something.
We want to find a place that’s like, okay, this works, or this is fits for me. And it is. So something that it can be so settling when we feel like we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves and that we all are looking for that. I think, and for our young folks to be able, for us to be aware that that’s a big part that they’re searching for and that we want to try to help validate that as well as speak into where are they trying to belonging or where do they have a sense of belonging and that’s really gonna ty and play into that. And sometimes that can be very helpful and sometimes it’s not. But, being able to see that as one of the big factors that plays into identity so that we can speak into it. Yeah, I would like to identify kind of two dimensions, or maybe two, complimentary or you might say, competing ideas in self-worth and belonging.
Because self-worth is individual and belonging is community in a sense. How do you have belonging without fitting into a larger mass? Right. A larger group. So there is a group aspect, and we’re going to speak to some of this later in the presentation, but just wanna call that out.
There’s a group aspect. And then there’s a very individual aspect, isn’t there? There is. And, I think for us to be able to see both pieces of that and to be able to know at different times we’re gonna be speaking into different parts or a child’s gonna be investigating in different levels like, am I okay individually or how do I do I belong to this group? And I think one thing that in my mind is helpful to distinguish them is, belonging is different than fitting in. Fitting in is just like being part and kind of camouflaged into the group. And in one sense we want that, but in another sense, we also want to be known individually within that group and that they’re really paired together.
We want to be able to be somewhat unique and who we are individually to be celebrated, but we also want to fit into a larger group. But both of those things are going on at once, but at different times, different parts of it will be high. Yeah, I mean, when we talk about your identity and identity being stolen, it’s all those unique things about us.
It’s my numbers, right? It’s all of these types of things which are unique to me. And so there is a uniqueness that identity offers, which is very appealing. And then there’s this part of something or a blending in. So yes, it’s both of those things. So mom and dad, we can be always wrong on this with our kids, right?
I guess. Yeah. One more issue for us to always be getting it wrong, right? But, yeah, tricky. It is. Okay, so let’s look at now here it resides. Okay. So, um, if, if we know what matters and we can go to where identity resides, and, um, we’re gonna, we’re gonna zero in on this affirmation, affirmation.
Um, and then we further break that down into three, um, places, three different, um, ways to think about affirmation. Um, Brian, what do we mean by affirmation? What are we talking about here? Yeah. My affirmation, and I think so to we, to be clear here, where does identity reside In many ways? It, it resides in affirmation.
The things that are affirmed, the things that, that we’re giving emotional support to, whether it’s verbally or in are non-verbal responses that are saying. This is good, or I agree with this. Affirmation is a big part of, of where identity resides and, and what is affirmed is a huge question for us to consider.
What is it that I’m saying yes to or what am I saying is very important to me and should be very important to them while also recognizing, and we’ll get into this a little bit later, that there’s lots of different folks affirming different things. And, and, and we get to be one of those voices, but we wanna be in that, be really careful and specific about what we are affirming cuz there’s so many things that we can be affirming.
Um, and then accidentally in that, um, not affirming other things. So you’re really keying in on that first point about what it is that I am affirming. Give us some categories for some things that parents, ty typically. Yep. So it might be things like, um, uh, athletics that would be something like, okay, we want to affirm or pour in a lot of time and energy into that, or it might be academics and, and that’s the thing that’s really important or career or, um, stuff like, and, and, and again, most parents wouldn’t verbally say, this is what’s most important to me, but.
The, the way that we talk about vehicles or the way that we, you know, talk about what other people have, the stuff that they have, we might be affirming those sorts of things, or certain friendships or political views or maybe the way they, they dress and all of these sorts of things would be, so, the, the, the topics are endless that we can or can’t affirm, uh, about.
And so that then I think, leads to that second point of why, um, it is affirmed. It really follows pretty quickly on what it is that we’re affirming mm-hmm. . Um, because we have different reasons for all of those categories that you just shared Right. On why we would affirm, um, such and such. So I want you to tease out the difference between a kind of a high road reason for affirmation and maybe a low road reason for affirmation.
Yeah. Yeah. That we fall into as. Yeah, and, and I think it’s, it’s, it’s pretty easy to just, you know, we see something that, that’s appealing to us because of our identity, and we, and we affirm it because it, it makes sense to us, or we appreciate that, or it aligns with our interest or aligns with our strengths.
And we don’t, it doesn’t even cross our mind that we’re affirming it. and, and I think they are gonna do that too. Um, our children, the, the low road or kind of the deeper route is to be able to, in our own minds, be asking what is the purpose here? Or what is the, the, the inherent message that I’m giving by saying this and, and, and, and thinking a little bit deeper, not that it’s bad to affirm that they have this really nice vehicle or that you know they’re real, you’re doing a great job in athletics.
It’s not bad to affirm that. To do that, but then also to think a little bit different, like, why am I affirming. And maybe then also to move that discussion with that child into, you know, what, the reason why I see this as a good thing, or what I’m thinking about in the sense of celebrating this with you is, and then that can take us into that road of, it makes me think of God, our creator, and that he’s knit you together, um, in your mother’s womb.
And I see him planting within you. This gift or this capability and, and affirming this leads me to think about God and worshiping him. Um, and, and then too on the flip side, we can start to help them explore that. Hey, so you, you, you told your friend, I’m thinking of a young child here. Let’s say you told your friend that you have a cell phone when you don’t, what, what were you looking for?
Well, I was hoping that they would affirm me. They aren’t gonna use that language, but they’re gonna be my friend. They’re gonna like me because I have that cell phone. Oh, that’s interesting. So you think that them thinking you have something is gonna make them think better of you. So your goal, your purpose is really to build, build friendship, but you’re going about it in a way.
Do you think that’s actually gonna help build friendship? And, and, and again, starting to help them think through internally what is it that is affirming to them or what they’re affirming and why they’re affirming it, and if that actually makes sense, um, as they’re thinking through building their own identity.
I think that’s, I think those are helpful examples that, that flush this out a little bit and, and as I am musing on it as well, I can all too quickly see where sometimes I affirm my kids for my own, uh, for my own advantages. Right. It would be easier if my kid made this decision right? Or was this type of person Yeah.
Um, therefore I’m going to affirm that. I’m not sure if I think it quite like that, but Right. Um, whether it’s the way they dress or whether it’s the way they, um, You know, their attendance at certain things, right? Yep. Yeah. I mean, these are, these reflect themselves upon me so I can find myself affirming certain behavior, right?
When, at the end of the day, uh, that affirmation is really more about me than it is about them. You are, yes. You are kind of causing us to think a little bit about that. Where and why we. Yeah, I think a really simple example, let’s say you’re a family sitting around the table and, and you’ve got two high schoolers and, and one of ’em is talking about their excitement about computers and you have no interest in computers, and the other one is talking about their interest in farming, and that’s where your passion lies.
You are gonna be naturally, Affirming to the child who’s talking about farming and not meaning to, but you’re gonna be then also saying, I, you’re not as important, or you, I, I’m not as interested in that, which will feel like for them, I don’t matter. And then that could, could speak into their identity and instead we want to be able to say, oh wait, actually I wanna affirm this interest in farming, but I also, even though this isn’t an interest of mine, how do I affirm this thing over here that that isn’t an interest of mine?
Yeah, I think that’s helpful. Mm-hmm. , um, and to, and, and the messages that we send, um, by the reasons why, um, we affirm what we are affirming. And then going to that third point, who is doing the affirming is, um, is really critical in this, in this space of identity, isn’t it? Oh man. Yeah. And, and, and one of the things that’s exciting but also a bit scary is, Everybody there so many different individuals and groups are affirming our, our own identities as well as our kids.
So the exciting news is that we get a seat at the table, we get one of the the seats, but I think that means we really want to purposefully make sure we take that seat because. The culture and their peers and, and all of the other people in their lives are also going to be affirming different things.
And, and that may or may not align with what we are, um, wanting to affirm. It’s, it’s a huge blow to a parent, um, and I’m gonna speak as, as one who kind of knows this space to re to come to the realization that that 11 year old in their. Has as much power over them and if affirmation than their father does.
Right, right, right. . Um, and it makes absolutely no sense to me on why, uh, my kid would, would adjust themselves based on what that 11 year old thinks, you know? Right. Um, but the point remains, um, of affirmation comes from is a tricky thing. Oh yeah. And it matters. Mm-hmm. it, it, it is. And I think in that, that same vein, then it’s also helpful that, generally speaking, I think there’s, there’s different cultures and different areas, and even within different churches and within each family of, of things that, that tend to be affirmed.
And if we can be aware of that, then that can help us say, oh wait, you know what? Local cul culture might be really quick to affirm this thing. Okay. And, and knowing that then helps us know what we might wanna be careful with or how we might want to approach that particular topic, you know, or, you know, we might know what.
You know, 11 year old boys might be quick to affirm and, oh, how do we have that in the back of our minds? And, and so that we can, again, take our seat at the table and, and uh, just not feel like we’re at the mercy, but we’re helping our chi our children be aware of what are the voices saying around you?
What are they saying is important and is that really. What’s most important? So what I hear you saying here, Brian, is being a discerning parent or a thoughtful parent, knowing that my child is going to seek affirmation and they will likely find affirmation from someplace and from some voices. Mm-hmm.
Mm-hmm. , who is that person? And this is really gets to the issue of friends and knowing friend groups. But, um, it could be a influential teacher, it could be a coach, it could be, um, you know, a, a Sunday school teacher. And, um, just to, to be aware. Yeah. Of who is able to affirm, uh, who, who has some of the seats at the table?
You said it well. Yeah, exactly. And I, and I think one of the things that would be important to acknowledge about that too, that generally speaking, um, being able to impact our children’s hearts is gonna start by having an environment of safety. If they can feel emotionally safe that they’re gonna feel heard and they can share, that’s gonna be helpful Then, For us to be able to speak into what’s going on.
But our tendency as parents, certainly mine, is to provide ongoing instruction and ongoing correction. And, and then we are never accidentally, we’re never actually affirming, we’re just, um, saying no. And, and of course there’s a place for that. We wanna do that. But also like, huh, what does it look like to have some safety that I can hear their hearts affirm the things that I think are wise and good.
And then maybe hold off on the instruction or correction for a, a, a another time or just making sure that’s not the only thing that I’m providing. Well, let’s, let’s move along then, because what we wanna do is talk about positively affecting identity development. That’s our charge as parents. That said, okay.
Um, we can positively affect, um, dare I say, we can negatively affect. Yeah, I think so. Yeah. . Yeah. I, I I think we have to be left with that alternative as well. Sure. Um, kind of, uh, previously we mentioned if we’re affirming the wrong things or have the wrong motives or all of these types of things, right. So mm-hmm.
what does it look like to positively affect identity development? We’re gonna break this down into two concepts. Um, um, Brian, one is understanding how identity is formed. So there is a formation, there is a route, there is a map. Whereby one, uh, an individual, um, comes to a settled identity. And so there’s some wherewithal I want you to address that.
Mm-hmm. . And then number two, we’re gonna look into that group and individual identity piece, um, and kind of, um, see that for more than what it is. So, um, let’s go now to identity formation. Um, we’ve got four identity statuses on this matrix in front of us. Um, with some kind of heavy words. So I, we wanna, we wanna kind of understand those, Brian.
Okay. Um, so at a high level, bring us into this chart and explain it. Start with the exploration. We see that on the left hand side. Yep. Yep. On the, um, y axis we’ve got exploration, high and low and, and commitment. Um, maybe tease those two terms out. Help us see how they relate to one another. Yeah. So I think to start with exploration and, and again, on either of these, you can be high or low and it’s not a, it’s not a stuck space, but you’re kind of either high or low or anywhere in, in between on lots of different topics.
So exploration is really, We move into investigating, we’re trying to figure out what is it that is important to me? What is it that I think about this certain thing? What is it that I value? So it’s exploring, trying to figure those things out. Where do I stand on this particular topic? That’s the exploration that’s gonna involve, whether that’s research or talking to different people with different opinions.
Exploring and if you’re, if you’re in exploration, that would be high. High exploration is when you’re investigating and trying to figure out what you think, what you believe, or, or where you stand on a particular topic. Now. Now let me just interject, um, a little bit about what I know about, um, child adolescent development and education and brain, and that is at young ages, they are not able to critically.
Right. Um, uh, they, I think classical educators would call that the didactic stage. Mm-hmm. They’re really good with on off. True false. Yeah. Black and white. Yep. And I, and I’ve seen this in my kids at, at, at these young ages, you know, 8, 9, 10, 11. Yep. All right. You can play with some ages here, right? Very didactic.
Very, very right and wrong here. , that’s gotta confront us a little bit, right? Mm-hmm. when it comes to formation here. Yep. And, and so I think that’s a good point that particularly younger kids are gonna be in a state of low exploration just because they don’t have the capability. They’re, they’re gonna be soaking up information, but that’s gonna be from the sources they’re around.
So they’re gonna be taking in a lot of information, but then that information they take in is gonna land them. A conclusion, but they really don’t have the capacity to explore other possibilities or other ideas. It’s just downloaded to to them. And that’s gonna automatically put them in more of a low exploration, uh, state.
I, I think that’s helpful. Um, Brian, because that I think, guides us a little bit on our roles as a parent, that if I’ve got a young child mm-hmm. , um, maybe I’m not urging exploration, they, they’re, they’re not at that level. I’m not asking them to critically think about the news and about Right. The issues.
Right. And maybe, maybe I, I, I spell it out to him as best I, I think mm-hmm. , but at least giving them the, giving them facts, giving them. Um, the practice, um, allowing them, uh, just download, you know. Yeah. They’re, they’re, they’re, they’re really in a download state in those young, in those young ages. Yeah. Um, but just to be aware of myself, I know my, I know my kid right now, um, believes x, y, and Z is wrong.
Right. That’s the like, like the way I’ve taught him. But that doesn’t mean they’re, that they’ve tried it out and own it for themself. That’s gonna be Right. Right. Yeah. And it makes me even just think of my, uh, my daughter last year when she was in school. Um, so she would’ve been, she would’ve been eight or nine at this point, and, and she came home and couldn’t believe that one of our friends in school didn’t believe in Jesus.
Like, she didn’t even realize that was a category that was possible. Um, you know, and, and she, and, and then that, that begins the exploration a little bit. But still at that point, she doesn’t have the capacity to do that. Um, but she’s starting to be introduced to, oh, there’s other ideas. There are other possibilities.
And, and as she moves forward and as she grows and is exposed to more, then, then that’s gonna kind of come on board. I like that. Let’s go to that commitment part now, Brian. So the commitment part is, is after, after you’ve done exploration, then that allows you then to move into. High commitment. Um, so commitment is saying, okay, this is where I land.
This is the conclusion that I, I stand on. This is where, what I believe and what I think, at least for now. And, and so it’s kind of coming to resolve. This is where I’m at individually on this particular topic. And so you’ll notice that through exploration that’s gonna move you into the goal would be into higher commitment once you’ve explored a topic.
More thoroughly, then you’re gonna move into a higher level of commitment on where you stand personally, uh, on that, that topic. So taking that example of, of your daughter with Jesus mm-hmm. , uh, right now she’s probably low ex exploration. Yep. Um, but high commitment. Right, exactly. But, but you’re not. As she grows, you don’t hope that she stays here.
Right? My hope would be that over time she’ll move from low exploration into high exploration, but then that’s gonna shift her into low commitment. When you move into exploration, then you automatically move lower on the continuum of commitment because you’re kind of reevaluating, so then your commitment is lower.
And that can be really scary. That can be scary, particularly for Christian parents when the topic of where does my child land is so scary. Um, you know, you know, there’s, so this happens on every topic of identity, not just faith, but, but this would be one that obviously would be central for, uh, believing parents.
And, and it’s scary for us to sit down and as they’re going through that exploration, and boy, Johnny says this, and my teacher over here says this. Or as they move into college, my professor thinks this, or I read this book over here. Or Did you know the internet? There’s all, you know, all of these things out there.
And, and. Leads them into that what’s called identity crisis or identity moratorium is the technical term where there’s, I don’t know where I stand now and I’m exploring all these things, but hopefully through that exploration and helping put around them solid resources that can help guide them, then that exploration moves them into high commitment after high exploration, and then that’s the identity achievement.
Really is where we hope to land. And, and, and it’s not that we stay there cuz we almost always, we go through a challenging thing and that makes us reevaluate. And, and so this all, all of this is in a constant state of flux. Um, yeah. But this really gives a map, doesn’t it? Mm-hmm. , it gives a map for how we want to see our young people to move.
Yeah. Um, and it helps me understand my present better. I’m. , it helps me understand, um, my young teenagers who are right here in, in, in many, in many ways and in many things. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Um, and it gives me a little bit of a wherewithal to say, you know, um, they’re gonna have to come here to land in this achievement place.
Right? And this happens. A thousand issues, doesn’t it? Right, exactly. Yes. Yeah. So this isn’t just like where your kid is at. We could, we can be all over the map depending on where we’re at. Yeah. So you might be an identity achievement in regards to faith, but you might be an identity for closure when it comes to, um, your view on, on how nice of a car you need.
You know, and, and again, so it comes from things that are pretty unimportant to very important. The topics can range, um, extensively. Um, That’s, that’s, um, really helpful. And anything too. Yeah, go ahead. Well, another thing that I would just point out here is this. Identity diffusion is a really easy place, particularly for young people or adolescents to fall in this where there’s low commitment, low exploration, they just don’t care.
And so in that space, I think a lot of parents can feel that way, especially around important topics for adolescents. You know, teens, young adults, it’s like, I can’t even get the discussion started because they just don’t care at all. And, and so I’d say, yeah, that makes sense. That’s quite normal. And in that space, what we’re trying to do is like push them towards a little bit of exploration, like, huh, have you thought about, or where do you stand on this issue?
And just kind of asking questions, trying to prime the pump. And they might say, don’t know. Don’t care. And that’s fine. We leave it alone. But we can see that as our goal is, boy, how do I help them move into exploration just a little bit. Are there questions or things that I might do that might help them move there?
Or even with a, a commitment level, you know, I wonder too, um, If sometimes we, a, a young person stays here mm-hmm. because they don’t see the value Right. In being here on a particular issue. Yep. Okay. Yes. Uhhuh, , I’m, I’m just gonna throw out a sacred cow. Sure. Like politics, for example. Sure. Right. Right.
Mm-hmm. , um, they know where mom and dad are. Right. Yep. And, you know, uh, take, take your topic, right? Yeah. And, and, um, so, uh, anyway, yeah, exactly. No, I think that’s a really good point. And, and so in that topic, what you might think about is, let’s say they’re annoyed with something locally that you see as tied to local government.
And you might say, oh yeah, you are, you are annoyed that this road is blocked and it’s been blocked all year. Huh. I mean, where do you think that comes from, or what do you think’s tied into why that would be? And then that might lead them into discussion and like realizing, oh, wait, you mean. That referendum that was voted on last fall actually does have an impact on daily life.
Um, yeah. Yeah. And then choose, uh, so many other topics. And I think even going back to grounding self-worth mm-hmm. and, um, um, belonging. Yes. Um, I mean to really grab a hold, um, of those, so let’s just take another one, right? Yeah. Church. Mm. Right. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Um, as we raise our kids, and, and, and that’s a, that’s one too where, where we can, low exploration, low commitment, right?
And, and sometimes they can just sit pretty there. Yeah. Um, and anyway, so I, I just, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And, and, okay. And, and, and this map, I think gives us a little bit of what we want to help move them towards as far as exploration or commitment. And that might fuel like, oh, what kind of questions or what kind of information might help generate that.
Um, I, I think too, maybe this, I could see this being a question. Too that, that sometimes identity foreclosure might even be on, like, let’s say a big topic like self-worth, like, um, I am unloved or nobody cares about me. And let’s say they have high commitment towards that view of themselves, but low exploration.
Oh, so you don’t, you don’t think anybody cares about you in asking questions about that. Trying to move them into exploration around. . Johnny just called you yesterday and I wonder why he would call you if, if he didn’t care about you at all. Well, Johnny, I guess he, he care, he cares, but nobody else does.
You know, and, and again, to be able to, that’s, oh, that’s generating exploration and an exploration might help them reconsider the conclusion they’ve come to and the commitment to that. If that makes sense. Yeah, I it does, it makes a lot of sense. And I think that’s really helpful. And I think these, these quadrants are helpful, um, because it, it gives us a little bit of a chart on maybe how to urge and guide, which is really what this, what this, uh, webinar is all about.
Let’s move now, um, to group and I in individual identity. Okay. Now there’s a fair amount of content on this slide. I’m aware of that. And, and for our, uh, participants, you might be, you know, we’re racing through this, uh, the, this matrix here, but let’s, let’s take a little bit at a time here. Um, first we’ve got group identity and individual identity.
Again, say a little bit about that. Um, how those are both present. Yep. So again, I think what we talked about, uh, briefly before, to just know that this is competing in our own hearts as well as our kids’ hearts all the time, that they’re simultaneously wanting to be a part of a group, but also have some degree of individually.
Being unique and who they are as an individual. And I think at a larger cultural level, our culture tends to value identity from an i uh, individual standpoint. Like know who you are and, you know, be authentic to yourself. Whereas other cultures are a little bit more group focused and, um, I think they’re always at play.
But different cultures and, and different settings, both like in our, in the US versus, you know, In, in particular locations within the US that there would be certainly variation in that. I th I think that’s really fascinating. And, and let me, um, just a little bit of an aside now, if somebody has a question, you can feel free to chat it in.
Um, you know, feel free to even unm mic un unmute yourself, uh, with 15 minutes to the top of the hour. And there’s a lot here and we’ve said a lot, um, when we want this time to be productive for you. So, um, don’t feel, don’t feel bad about jumping in and even interrupting. If you want, let’s, let’s take a look at this, Brian.
Mm-hmm. . Um, I think that’s fascinating. We, in America and maybe the West, um, tend toward individual identity. And what we’ve done here is we’ve got kind of, um, some nuances. Where does identity come from? Um, so what does it look like for it to be group identified looking at, um, the group in identifying your role?
as opposed to, um, by looking into one’s self and identifying one’s desires. I mean, those are very different, aren’t they? Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Yeah. And, and it’s so fascinating if we can help our kids see when they’re maybe looking to or being ruled by one or the other. Yeah. Like, so you know, you’re doing, uh, let’s say you wanna, you wanna wear this, this shirt.
Why is that? Why is it? Well, cuz it just, it feels right or I just, you know, it, I really like it. Oh, okay. Interesting. And, and then you go to, to, to school and you see three other people. Oh, it looks like there’s a lot of other people there going on too. So what do you think that’s about? Well, these are my friends and, and there’s, and, and helping them say, oh, so it’s not just that this is what you prefer, it also is.
You know, what other people prefer. And so sometimes what they would say, this is no, this is just about what I think, what I feel. There’s also a group piece playing into that. Um, and, and when it is an individual desire or a group desire, then to kind of move below that of, oh, is that, is that really what we want to motivate us?
Yeah. Take the next one. What does success look like? For example? Yeah. Of fulfilling one role. Look how straightforward this is. Yeah. Fulfilling one’s role. Look how convoluted this is. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And, and here’s the thing that I’ve experienced with my own children and, um, doing some teaching in the public schools and at the community college.
Um, this is a very mature like, That’s a tough, that’s a, that’s a very high standard, like how do you figure that out, right. Where this is very straightforward. Mm-hmm. . Um, but just to understand that the difficulty that is really thrust upon them. Right. Definitely. Which I think kind of reminds me back to the grounding piece, if you know by living according to one’s authentic self, It is a really hard task to be grounded when you are totally reliant on looking within yourself, figuring out what you want, and then being totally committed to that boy that that’s a, that’s a tall order.
Um, whereas the other yeah, gives you some structure to work from. So that might be pretty settled, but then having a sense of value and worth as a person that might be more challenging in that, that. . Yeah. I, and as we move down these, you can see how, um, you know, finding achievement, right? Achievement is on living up to the role in the group.
Mm-hmm. , whereas individual, it’s a living up to your own desires. Self-expression. Mm-hmm. , um, what is it required of self. I find this to be, look at how different these are. Yeah. Self-sacrifice. It’s fitting into the group. It’s, it’s living up to my role. It’s doing what I’m supposed to do. Mm-hmm. , um, as opposed to self-assertion.
yeah. A lot of conflict going on within us, but they’re both very, very real. Yep. Definitely. And I think too, one of the things I would just say about this is, is, is this gives us a map to think about how identity is, is, is formed and kind of the different goals, um, in identity formation, depending on if we’re looking at it from a group identity versus an individual identity.
And then this gives us a window into questions to ask our kids and help them to think about. The motive behind what they’re doing or to think about their thinking. And if they can develop that skill that’s gonna give them, uh, move them down the road a long ways, uh, of being able to have a coherent worldview.
Yeah. You know, another thing I think that’s helpful too, Brian, is to understand, um, the maturity required, um, group identities much accessible, much easier, much quicker than individual identity. Hmm. And there is a maturing process that a person needs to experience to really have that iden, uh, individual. I mean, you just have to have a lot of life experience in order to know yourself.
Right. Right. Um, to live up to your dreams, for example. And here’s what I see. I see. I, I do see young people. Like deer in the headlights look because they, they want the job that fulfills their individual identity, and it’s really hard to find an entry level job that does that according to their rubric.
If this is their rubric, however, It can be achieved if they have more of a group identity, right? Yeah. Um, a being a clerk or at, at Walmart, for example, can have terrific group identity if you view it like that. Yeah. Mm-hmm. . But if you only have an individual identity, difficult place to get to and, and what’s the number one question that everybody ask a high schooler?
What are you gonna do when you grow up? What are you gonna do when you get out? And, and, and to understand that going through their. Is this. Yeah. Right. And that’s, that’s a difficult, that’s difficult. Mm-hmm. . Yep. Yep. No, it is. And, and I think too gives us an opportunity then to speak into that and helping them see from us that we value you.
No matter where you, what you end up doing and that there’s a, there’s a way to be valued, not, not based on what you do individually, but by just where you fit in or where you belong and, and there’s a space that we value you here, we care about you. We’re interested in you both. What’s unique about you, but also that there’s a place for you in this group, whether it’s one that’s.
Got a lot of status around it or not. Yeah. I want, I wanna pause. We’ve got one more slide and we’re going to kind of finish the story with a Christ-centered identity, which I think is going to provide a little bit of a map to say, Ooh, how can I come along with my child as they go through group and I individual identity and guide them in a Christ identity?
Um, but I wanna offer chance for questions. Maybe there would be a question at this point. Um, we’d be glad for that.
If anybody wants to care to un-mic you can or chat it in, that’s fine as well. I’m gonna ask Brian a loaded question while you think about that question. . So Brian, is it okay for me to look at my kids and say, all right, but you’re a Kaufman and this is, is, is it? Is it okay for us to build identity. Around these things that we know, aren’t you?
You know what I, I, I have no idea what the answer to this question is, but that happens a lot. Yeah. We, we want them to find a place in, in that, and so we say no. Well, another, that’s the other, you know, the suitors do that. I know, but you are across. Right. Yeah, I, I think it would be, what I would say there is just to, it’s important to recognize that that’s a reality, that in general there are, you know, Labels or expectations that are put on you because you’re a Kaufman or because you’re a suitor or because you, you know, you go to church in central Illinois or you know, Ohio or like that, that there are kind of general, this is what that means.
And for us just to be aware that that’s there and that may, um, either be a helpful grounding thing or it may. Pressure that we don’t mean it to be. So one I would say is just to be aware that that’s a reality. And then two, where we can to allow them to be free to explore other things. So for example, suitors are not musical.
We are. You, you know, I, I, I, I’m the guy that, that can’t even, you know, do it. It’s just a disaster. I can’t even explain it, but, but it’s okay if my daughter who does right now wants to do piano lessons for, for them to know that even though suitors don’t do music, , if you wanna explore that, I’m willing to, to allow that to be a possibility.
I just won’t be able to be very helpful. . . Um, so I, yeah, and what I hear then is that that identity is, um, uh, uh, it buoys them up or supports them in, in something larger. It is not, uh, it is not capturing them as much as it. It’s meant to help them flourish. And so when, uh, when that identity, does that help them flourish, then perhaps there’s good reason there.
Yeah. Let’s, let’s go now, let’s go now to that Christ-centered identity, which I think is really exciting. We’re gonna just take mm-hmm. , um, these again and just, um, step ’em through. And they’re such a refreshing, there’s a refreshing narrative, Brian, that’s going to speak to. Their hearts. Mm. Because identity does.
Yep, yep, yep. It is. I think when you compare these, you know, as I read through them, like the Christ, uh, Christian identity, just like I can feel myself letting out a, a deep sigh and just relaxing, like, oh, okay. Huh. And part of that I think is because it’s, it’s something that’s received whereas the others are achieved.
Yeah, that there’s something that is just like, oh, I can just sit down and receive this rather than having to accomplish this through, you know, doing what I have to do. Yeah. I wonder if that’s even part of, part of the answer and which I want you to address. So we just had a chat in question. Sure. Um, Brian, let me, let me read it.
You can, I don’t, you can read it too. Um, how do we as parents help our kids look at their identity in the midst of a major life transition when even we as parents are not rooted in belonging in a group identity yet? Great question. Let’s, let me just say, I’ll say the easy part and leave the harder for you.
Transition does key up identity crisis. Oh, yes, absolutely. It’s a great question. I’m glad, uh, I, I can’t see it, so I don’t know who sent it in, but I, I think it’s so, such a great question and, and one that I’d mentioned wanted to, to mention. But I think part of this goal of of helping our kids with identity would help help them learn how to walk through loss, because transitions are always gonna bring loss, and with loss or with transition, there’s always gonna be, A transition in our identity.
And, and so helping them be able to walk through that, I think is very, very important. And, and seeing therefore, there are parts of their identity that will ev um, eventually move from the foreground to the background to prepare them for that. Um, so yeah, I, yeah, I really like that. Um, Brian and I wonder too, not all identi identity markers are.
Yeah. So if there’s a hundred things that make up my identity, I’m a teacher, for example. Right. It, it means something to me. Mm-hmm. , I, I introduce myself as that I’m a husband. Mm-hmm. , I’m a father, I’m Right. Mm-hmm. and, and all of these have different, um, proportions of it Ha. Of making up my whole mm-hmm. . Um, and, and, um, And as parents, as we example that transition, boy, what a, what a moment in time in transition to have those proportions at a healthy level.
Yep. Yep. That, that, right now, right now, I used to call myself a carpenter, and I’m not at the moment. . Um, and so that’s gonna take a backseat, but what is still in force, right? Mm-hmm. . Yep. And that’s where I think too, is they go through a transition for us to be able to connect with their, their sadness, to connect with the reality that that’s painful them, for them, whether or not we think it should be or not.
You know, cuz the transitions they experience, you know, at five or 10 or 15 or 20, uh, may, you know, are gonna have different weights, at least in our mind. But to be able to connect with the reality that those are painful and, and then to help them. Navigate, why is that painful for them? Not, not in a like challenging way, but in a way, like, I wanna understand and I want to connect so that they can move into more of a settled, you know, group or individual identity.
So I hear what you’re saying is it’s an opportune moment to actually learn about what matters. Right. We’re our kids in that moment and to seize upon that. Mm-hmm. , um, Brian, we’re at the right, at the top of the hour. Um, and I don’t want to go along with this. People, um, have got, um, things to do. Um, there is on the web we’re gonna have these slides, um, in a downloadable fashion.
So if you wanted to take another look at these, um, fill, you will be able to find them on our website. Um, and um, Brian, thank you very much. My privilege. And, and I would say too, like for anybody, if this stirs up questions or you’d like to kind of talk through it more, um, specifically into a specific situation, you’re always welcome to call the office.
Uh, be glad to, to touch base and, and think through anything that’s a little bit more specific. So, but it’s been a pleasure to be with you. It’s, it’s helpful to think through. Thank you. Thank you. Each one for, uh, for being.