We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose, and he has always known who his chosen ones would be. He had decided to let them become like his own Son, so his Son would be the first of many children. (CEV) Romans 8:28-29
As someone who grew up on the cusp of the digital age, I understand all too well how easy it is to get caught up in comparing myself to others. Studies have shown that excessive use of social media by adolescents can lead to an increase in mental or physical health problems, including depression and anxiety, negative body image, and low self-esteem. As parents, we see our children navigating a world very different from ours.
How can parents help their children combat these feelings of not being good enough? As Christian parents, remind your children that they were created lovingly by God, in his image, as unique and special people (that’s a good lesson for parents, too!). God put the Holy Spirit in each of us to help us become stewards, using our skills and abilities to serve him and others.
Talk to your children about mental health. Mental health challenges are real and present in our world, and they affect our children as much as they affect us. Encourage your children to come to you with any worries or strong emotions they might have. Tell your children about your struggles to help them realize that everyone goes through difficulties in life.
Encourage your children to use their unique skills. Help your children remember that “they are the ones God has chosen for his purpose” (Romans 8:28, CEV). God created each of us with our unique talents. Encourage your children to find and use their skills to serve God by helping them explore different extracurricular activities. When they find something they love, cheer them on and help them discern how to use that talent well.
Work together. In 1 Corinthians 1:27 (CEV), Paul reminds us that “together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body.” God made each of us as unique individuals with different abilities. Instead of focusing on competition and comparison, encourage your children to work together to share God’s love. Tell them about your skills, and wonder together about how you can use your talents together to be good stewards for God.
Improve together. It’s okay to want to improve in some areas as long as we don’t let it affect our sense of self-worth. If your child wants to improve a skill, work on it together. Get rid of the old system of measurements and metrics for success—if you miss a day of reading the Bible together, that’s fine! Recognize that we are all flawed and human, and start fresh the next day.
Together, we can help children recognize that we are unique and whole people, even in our digital world, where it’s easy to compare ourselves to others. We should never be disappointed in ourselves because God made us to be his children. With God as our Father, how could we ever feel like we’re not enough?
Want to do a deep dive? Check out these three Family Fire’s articles, Helping Children Navigate Social Media Anxiety, Finding a Healthy Self-Image, and Be the mirror your child needs.