No doubt you've given, or been given, this piece of advice. I know I have.
Certainly we don't want our kids to act like someone else to try and fit in. We don't want them fake laughing, constantly making duck lips to look "just so" for a selfie, or putting too much effort into following the latest fashion trend just to feel like they fit in.
We want them to be comfortable in their own skin. We're well aware that our daughter won't likely make friends by altering her personality to fit in with the girl (or crowd of girls) she's interacting with. The other side of that coin is if she does make friends by intentionally changing her behavior in order to seem more pleasing, she'll likely attract friends she probably won't be able to keep, or else she may attract friends that don't foster the great character we hope will be instilled in our children. We know all of this. And so we work to make them secure in who they are.
I recently realized that one of my kids has matured to a point of being pretty comfortable in their own skin, thanks, in part, to culture and to my years of coaching.
But, boy oh boy, my job's not done.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Though we don't want our children to try to be somebody else, and though we don't want them to be insecure, do we really want them to be themselves? I know I can be a force to reckoned with when I'm being myself. My kids can be too.
When I think about my children, my husband and those I've been called to befriend and encourage, they need me to live beyond myself and my natural whims.
In being myself, I can be selfish and jealous, rude and impatient.
Naturally, I don't like to wait.
In being myself, I use saracasm at the expense of others.
In being myself (truly myself) , I'll more times than not, choose to do things that bring ME pleasure or accolades...or comfort...or happiness.
The same goes for our children. In being themselves, our children will all too often behave like spoiled and selfish creatures. It's the human default.
So it's our duty to stretch them beyond what's natural, again.
Sure we should teach our kids that they shouldn't try and be somebody else.
Let's teach them to be content and confident in who God made them to be. But it's not his plan that they be themselves, for themselves.
Beyond teaching them who they are, more pertinently, we must teach them who they are in Christ. He sat an example of being oneself, selflessly.
God has fashioned you in such a way that you can...
Be yourself, but to the benefit of someone else.
We have been created through him and for him.