Meet "Jacob." Born as a beautiful baby girl named Mia, "Jacob" began expressing the desire to be a boy. Mia didn't like dressing like a girl or being called a girl. So, after a period of painful, thoughtful deliberation, Mia's parents decided to help her transition to a boy. My heart breaks for the family, as I am certain this decision was very difficult for them. You can watch a video of their entire story HERE.
Transgender children are becoming more and more common. I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject, but I do want to ask a few questions to probe conversation. Aside from the obvious moral and Biblical questions that this presents...
* Do four year olds have the maturity, cognitive ability, or perspective to be allowed to make life-altering decisions like this?
* Should parents follow the lead of the child in ALL instances (especially where the child's preferences or desires would lead to a life-altering decision)?
* What should a Christian parent's response be when their child is unhappy with their body, their personality, or their identity?
* What kind of messages should a child who is struggling with their self-image or identity be hearing from their parents and grandparents?
Your child’s self-image is being formed from the day he or she is born. The messages you send matter! Children’s self-esteem is shaped by the significant people in their lives. Parents, of course, play the most important role because they have countless opportunities to steer the development of the self-esteem of a child or teenager in a positive direction. But don’t overlook the impact a grandparent, uncle, or aunt can have in speaking powerful messages of encouragement, hope, and value into your child.
When your child begins to doubt who they are and begin to ask questions like, "Did God mess up?" or to quote "Jacob" from this video, "Why did God make me this way? Is God stupid?" Here are some messages that they should hear LOUD AND CLEAR from the most important people in their lives:
1) “God designed you!”
No matter the reasons for a child’s birth, he or she is never a mistake or a “cosmic accident.” God told Jeremiah (and us): “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb” (Jer. 1:5). King David wrote:
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. (Ps. 139:13–15)
2) “You’re God’s masterpiece.”
God doesn’t make junk! He beautifully and specifically crafts each person. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul explained, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph. 2:10).
Like an artist who paints a beautiful portrait or landscape, God took His time to craft every part of us: eyes, nose, personality, gifts, and talents. God designed each of us individually and specifically.
You and your children are God’s masterpieces. When we learn to see ourselves from His perspective, we will see how wonderful we really are. And when we believe this truth about ourselves, we will impart it to our children.
3) “God paid a high price for you!”
Some kids see themselves as disposable, valueless, and not worth anyone’s time and attention. How is the value of anything or anyone determined? By the price another is willing to pay for it. A baseball card is just a small piece of cardboard, but a 1909 Honus Wagner card recently sold for $2.8 million! The person who bought it believed it was quite valuable, but many moms throw out their kids’ baseball cards because they think they’re just clutter!
What’s the value of a person? God put a price tag on human beings when He sent His Son to pay the ultimate price for us. Jesus died in our place, paid the debt we couldn’t pay, and ransomed us from sin and hell to be adopted into God’s family! In a letter to the Corinthians, Paul explained, “You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price” (1 Cor. 6:19–20). God was willing to pay a high price for us because He considers us and our children supremely valuable. We’re worth more to Him than the stars in the sky! Our kids need to hear this message. So do we.
4) “God cares about the details of your life!”
God didn’t spin the universe into being and then leave us on our own. He’s intimately involved in everything we do. God is omnipresent, which means He’s with us (and with every atom in the universe) at every moment. And God is omniscient, which means He knows everything about . . . well . . . everything.
Jesus once told His followers, “What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows” (Matt. 10:29–31). You mean so much to God that He knows exactly how many hairs are on your head. When one falls out, He changes the number. Isn’t that amazing?
If you want to help your children develop a healthy, positive self-image and identity, teach them to view themselves the way that God, their Master-Designer, sees them. They are His Masterpiece. He created them, and He cares about every detail of their lives.
***These principles are taken from a chapter on "How To Talk To Kids About Self-Image" in my book, "Talk Now And Later: How To Lead Kids Through Life's Tough Topics" (available now)***