Adolescence: Who Am I?

Teenagers, more than anything, need to grasp firmly who they really are.

They are branching out into scary times of increasing independence. A solid family life can provide the reassurance of stable and intimate relationships. How much more does believing, with strong conviction, that they are a loved child of God help them navigate their interpersonal relationships with confidence?

The youth who is not sure of his or her identity shies away from…intimacy.

-Erik Erikson

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

-1 John 3:1-2

Andrew Root, in his book, The Children of Divorce, connects losing the stability of the family with the loss of being. Children who have been raised in highly troubled families will consistently struggle with the question, “Who am I?” And yet, even children from more stable families, who have a higher likelihood of confidence in their identity, will still, inevitably, need to work through this, especially during the turbulent teen years.

The answer to the question, “Who am I?” will largely influence the relationships they have and maintain for the rest of their lives!

When I was thirteen, I came to the point in my life where I challenged myself with this question: “Will I go with God here and now for the rest of my life? Or will I go my own way down a path of lonely confusion about what this life is really about?” I drew a line in the sand and have ever since leaned into God.

I resonate with Peter, who said, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life” (John 6:68). I am a child of God. Without him, I have nothing and am lost.

Helping adolescents navigate this phase can include:

  • Surrounding with trusted, loyal and confident influences
  • Discussing awareness of true-self and reality versus misperceived assumptions
  • Walking through a course on the topic of identity in Christ
  • Providing service and volunteer opportunities to alleviate overly self-conscious tendencies
  • Engaging in thoughtful and open conversations about deeply held values, beliefs and convictions
  • Allowing increasing freedom of choice and owning responsibility for consequences
  • Teaching that sex does NOT equate with genuine intimacy
  • Increasing the sense of urgency that the church has for impacting youth
  • Surrounding with trusted, loyal and confident influences!

Lord, equip our youth with an understanding and belief of their identity in Christ.


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