A Unique Identity,
By Nancy Almquist - Director of Parent Relations

As many of you know, I am the parent of twins. My identical sons are students at George Fox. Mark and Tim (they did give me permission to share their names, for those of you who were here for family orientation this fall) are very much alike. People often ask me how I tell them apart. Growing up on the ball field, Mark had the blonde baseball glove, and Tim, the black one. When their hair is short, it’s pretty easy to tell who they are from the back, as their hair grows differently. And the last I saw them; one had facial hair, and the other clean shaven. These are distinctives that can quickly change.

However alike they are, they are both very unique. And the more time they spend away from home, and involved in college life, they are both working to create their own identities. That is true of all of our young adults. Most of our children are wrestling with the question, “Who am I?” Each one of them will be exploring new interests, opportunities and potential careers. For many of them, for the first time in their lives, they will have the opportunity to choose areas unlike anyone else in their family. They are learning to make decisions apart from their parents and grandparents, and we must let them.

While many students arrive on campus with a pretty strong concept of the world around them, and often see things pretty black and white, they are now beginning to see that other people express themselves differently than they do. When students begin to build new relationships with their living mates and classmates, they begin to see their own lives as unique. At this time, it’s not uncommon for our children to begin to question us as parents at a completely new level.

I can remember when Mark and Tim were in 1st grade and declared to their cousins that Santa Claus wasn’t real. Now, Paul and I had never said Santa was real or fictitious – we’d just celebrated St. Nicholas on December 6th and Jesus Birthday for the remainder of the Christmas season. They’d heard at school from another child that Santa wasn’t real – and they tried that one with the cousins. It was a difficult year as I remember it – simply because they’d tested a new idea, on the extended family.

What we experience in the next several weeks and months might not be much different. Our kids have all been exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking – and they will challenge what we’ve taught them their entire lives….simply because they can. They will test out new ideas, new looks and see what we think. As parents, we get the privilege of supporting them in this journey. It’s not always easy, like that Christmas many years ago – but it can give us opportunity to really think about what we believe to be most important – and learn what our children are beginning to believe is most important as they search for their unique identity.

Be encouraged as parents and supporters of George Fox students. Our young people are in process. Delight in seeing them make personal changes. It's your encouragement that gives them the confidence to try new things, and share their new selves with you. It's your unconditional support that will keep them coming back to you to test out their new ideas, hopes and dreams. It's the fact that you are there, for late night phone calls, last minute text messages before class and the surprise package that arrives in the mail – which will keep them connected to you, as they stretch out to find out who God has created them to be.

I am blessed to be a Mom,

Nancy Almquist
Director of Parent Relations