Do you remember when your baby was placed in your arms for the first time? It’s a beautiful moment for parents. In your eyes, your little girl or boy was simply perfect.

God created life, and he created that particular life through you. We are made beautiful and perfect through Jesus.

The world focuses on exterior and surface beauty. The perfect hairstyle, outfit, skin, and particular body type. We see it on social media, the internet, and even walking through the halls of school. This isn’t true beauty. When you really stop to think, the best photos aren’t those achieving “worldly perfection,” they are the photos of real life and imperfect moments. Some of the best photos are the wild hair, spaghetti on the face, messy home, oops moments, or the capture of a child’s true facial expressions verses the perfect smile.

When your child is young, you choose what your child eats, what clothes they wear, and what time they go to bed. As they grow from toddler to teenager, children begin making more of their own decisions. The control and influence from parents become less, and the world begins to influence more. Teenagers develop opinions, and the pressure to be perfect according to worldly measures is immense.

As parents, we must ask ourselves:

“What is leading my teenager to make the decisions he/she makes?”

“Who is the strongest influence in their lives?”

“What are the strongest influences in their lives?”

As a parent of teenagers, we can’t (and shouldn’t) control everything in their life, but you do need to be aware of what’s impacting them and how it’s affecting them. Your desires should be focused around your teenager developing a respect and love for themselves in a Godly way. God created all human life in his image. He created each of us as beautifully unique and individual beings. But, as a teenager, it’s hard to see that, especially if he or she feels as if they don’t measure up to peers and images of perfection created by today’s celebrities and influencers.

The amount of teenager depression, suicide and eating disorders is growing at an alarming rate. All in the pursuit of achieving something that is simply unachievable. Perfection cannot be found on this earth through worldly things as we are made perfect only through Jesus.

As a parent of teenage girl, I want her to feel naturally beautiful in whatever she is wearing, however her hair looks, and in every moment of her life. I want her to feel secure in who she is and “whose” she is. She is a child of God. And only in that relationship with Him can she find the highest amount of security, worth, and peace in her heart.

I don’t want her to spend hours in the bathroom to feel beautiful. I don’t want to spend $100 in a salon for her to feel beautiful. I don’t want her to look like she is 22, when she is only 16. God made her beautiful. And as parents, what greater gift can we give them, then to teach them to find and feel this beauty God has naturally given them.

Below are a few ways for helping your child see themselves as beautiful in the right ways:

  1. Teach your child who they are: “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

In a world full of billions of people, God thought the world needed one of you – unique in looks, personality, and talents. Everything He makes is so very good; and not one of us better than the other.

  1. Teach your child why they were created: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

We serve a great purpose to love our Lord AND to love our neighbor. What an incredible gift God gives each one of us to do so in our own unique ways with our special skills and talents.

  1. Choose your words carefully.

Even if you don’t think your teenager is listening to you, they are. Use words to build them up for their inner beauty. Highlight how their unique gifts can and are being used to love the Lord and serve others. Make sure they know how much you love them and how much God loves them.

  1. Make age appropriate decisions for them, and when older, help them do the same.

Look at their wardrobe. Is it appropriate for their age? If your child cannot walk out of the house “naturally” when they are 14, what will they be like when they are 25? Help them understand that their inner beauty will shine bright and attract the right people into their lives, not their outer shell.

  1. Spend time with them and talk to them. Ask and listen.

Ask them questions about the challenges they are facing, their fears, worries, and more. This will open the lines of communication and help you understand the worldly pressures and influences they are facing. By doing this regularly, parents will naturally have more influence on their child’s lives, decisions and self-worth.

  1. Pray for your child.

Let them know you are praying for them. This can be very comforting for your child. What a beautiful way to show your child or teenager that you see them, hear them and love them. Pray that they grow up with Jesus at the center of their life. That they find their identity and purpose in God instead of looking to the world.

Scripture tells us:

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, . . . Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3: 3-4

Kari Smith, DCE – Congregational Services & Adoption Caseworker for Lutheran Family Service

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