Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Teach Your Kids About Their "Selfie Image" - It Matters.

Ok, so selfies, those pictures people with smart phones take of themselves, are going to be the rage for a while. And of course, some of them are obnoxious while others are actually quite cool. Well, I've not taken one of those cool ones yet but I'm working on it.

But their popularity does beg the question, especially with our children, are they helping our kids gain a healthy view of themselves? I heard one sports commentator talking about child sports stars wisely say, "There is a difference between being self aware and self-absorbed." He is SO right.

If we're not careful we will continue to develop another generation (and they're not the first) of kids who are far more self-absorbed than self-aware. And it won't be just because of selfies.  Much of the problem will lie with us parents who continue to feed their egos without modeling an alternative perspective.


First, we require that they be productive and successful all the time.They are in a sport or learning activity every season, always competing and pushed into winning much of the time. It would be nice if the many camps for kids were merely about expanding their experiences and opportunities but we know better. For most players, parents and coaches they want more activities so their kids will be better athletes or musicians or cheerleaders and so they will win more.

And we do much of it in the name of self-awareness when all we're doing is adding to their being self-absorbed.

Second, we often model the same tendencies ourselves. More and more parents are even quitting their jobs or at least altering their lifestyle and free time in major ways so they can run more marathons, become an American Ninja or get multiple martial arts belts. The not so sports minded ones get more degrees, ascend the ladder at work or decide to climb the world's tallest mountains.

And of course there is nothing wrong with having a big goal or two and going for it. But when it becomes an obsession, and for so many it is just that, we start to become as absorbed with us as our kids do and they notice.

Third, a lessening of our attention on the spiritual and emotional usually accompanies these obsessive tendencies. No, people don't typically reject their faith or become jerks (though a few do) but they just don't place as much important on the less obvious, the things that don't impress others outwardly as much. There usually isn't a radical change but rather a slow move away from the things that matter most to the things that are about us.

Fourth, we don't speak against the cultural affirmations of self-absorption. The selfie prophets are everywhere preaching that we're number one - in movies, on television, in grocery-store magazines and even school. And while we shouldn't be strident or obnoxious about it, we do need to have frank discussions with our kids about why giving ourselves away produces far more fulfillment than always being focused on us.

Yes, everyone needs to know that they are important and matter but the real truths about self-worth can't be found in stuff, accomplishments or accolades. That comes from the God who made us.

So, sure, enjoy a selfie now and then with your kids. Just be careful that you and your family don't get too much selfie confidence. 

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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