Leadership in Parenting: Identity

by | May 25, 2017 | Leadership | 0 comments

This series is about viewing parenting from the perspective of leadership and developing future leaders. Being a parent is the most basic—and vital—of all leadership roles, though it’s rarely thought of that way. Parenting is the single most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I wish someone would have oriented me to this perspective before I became a father. It would have helped me avoid being in reaction (or sometimes survival) mode and given me more vision on what I was doing and how I was doing it. I hope parents find it helpful.


Each person is a unique being. There will never be 2 identical humans; you are the only you that will ever exist in human history.

Same goes for your kids. They share many of your traits: physical, social and psychological. But they are not you. They are them.

They are not you. They are them.

Parents play a vital role in helping their kids discover themselves and their identity. At the same time, parents can be one of the biggest barriers when they are too directive about who their kids should be or what they should do.

“And Your Point Is…?”

It’s a challenge for kids to discover and live out their own identity. It’s made doubly hard when parents try to define it for them.

So What?

One of the more artistic aspects of leadership is discovering the true talents and giftedness of the people you lead, then managing them effectively so they have the opportunity to find their place on the team and excel in their role.

Parents have the same opportunity to help their kids discover and practice their identity. This is (duh) much harder than it sounds.

This is (duh) much harder than it sounds.

Avoid creating the expectation that they should become who you think they should be. This only leads to conflicted thoughts, a feeling of being trapped, low confidence, self-esteem and apathy.

Don’t teach them their identity, teach them how to find it. Steer them, coach them, guide them, but let them decide. Give them confidence and assurance that they can find it. Ask them questions that will get them thinking, and then let them talk. You can correct or provide more information as it’s needed, but let them do the searching.

Don’t teach them their identity, teach them how to find it.

The Big Picture

As I’ve said in a separate post, kids will adopt much of what they see you model for them anyway; if something’s important to you, there’s a good chance it will be important to them—if you don’t try to ram it down their throats.

Shaping your kids’ identity and letting them find it on their own are not mutually exclusive goals. Ultimately, parenting involves positioning yourself as a trusted guide and mentor, rather than a controlling dictator. Commit to this position as early and often as possible, and let it shape every interaction you have with your kids as they grow. You’ll find your influence increase.

And never forget: It’s their identity they’re searching for, not yours.

Ultimately, parenting involves positioning yourself as a trusted guide and mentor, rather than a controlling dictator.

Your Next Step

What can you do to be more of a trusted guide/mentor?

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