Who Are You?

RaisingSmallSouls is pleased to introduce Nathan Geisler, Master Life Coach, to provide valuable insights into child rearing. Nathan Geisler M.A., an experienced family therapist, has been an educator for life values for the last 25 years. He teaches and lectures at institutes of higher learning, colleges and universities. He has thousands of students across the globe.

Who Are You?

We are on the cusp of those “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer”. For most of us, the school year has ended. We are looking ahead at weeks of summer vacation time. This might be an appropriate time to ponder some very important larger issues we and our children (students) are facing.

Before we even begin to address these issues, however, please allow me to pose four general questions which we might be well advised to ask ourselves and then pose to our children (or students). Here are my four fundamental questions:

(1) Who are you?

(2) What do you do?

(3) How well do you do it?

(4) What do you want (or need) in order to improve so that you contribute to making your life better?

Parents (or teachers) who are able to concisely and coherently answer these four questions are then in a position to help their children (or students) to work towards being able to successfully address these questions.

Almost all of our activities could be seen as efforts made to pursue the best answers to these four questions.

The question I want to bring to your attention in this article is: Of these four vital quests, what proportion of the answers do you (as a parent or teacher) assign as a parental responsibility, and what proportion do you allocate as a school responsibility?

Traditionally, the classroom teachers saw their roles “in loco parentis” โ€“ in place of a parent.

Let us examine these four quests one by one. This article will deal with an overview of the first quest.

“Who are you?” is a ubiquitous question that has infinite layers of depth. In many ways, the developmental processes of education help to continually broaden the answer to “who are you?”. This begins with the ability of children to state their names clearly when asked, “who are you?’ and advancing to the skill of writing their names and addresses. Gender identity is also expressed at this stage of school entry. The mix of other children in the classroom alerts children to the reality that the others in the class have different parents and different families.

Schooling generally goes a long way in helping to foster identification with one’s country, region, state and city and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship. The answer to “who are you?” might now include American, Canadian, New Yorker, Texan or citizen of Hometown, USA.

Frequently the answer to “who are you?” includes an aspect of cultural and ethnic identity which might also merge or cross with a religious affiliation. “I am a Hispanic”, “I am a WASP”, “I am a Native-American”, etc. Awareness of the answer to “who are you?” as it stands in contrast to the differing answers of others can be a valuable contribution of the school to the successful socialization of the child.

At a more advanced and introspective level, “who are you?” can be interpreted as an existential quest for meaning and value in our lives. Hopefully, the high-school level of literature, history and thought development can help the student frame the question. For many people, this quest is just not part of their vocabulary. These people live their lives with a spiritually stunted growth. Life is simply richer and more meaningful when this aspect of “who are you?” is clearly addressed.

We have seen that education and schooling can go a long way in addressing the question “who are you?”.

Perhaps the single, most important factor in successfully navigating the journey to self-identity is the child’s “perspective of self”.

If the self is viewed as an expanding continuity, then children see themselves as whole beings ready to develop and grow through life. They are gifted with the ability to change and yet still keep their concept of self (“who am I?”) intact.

This most crucial component of self-development is rooted in the home. Each teacher, no matter how influential, usually is replaced by a new teacher come September. Thus, the family is the pivotal center of self-development.

The key to successfully answering the question “who are you?” at every stage of life’s journey is rooted in a strong, positive family relationship.

How comfortable are you (parent or teacher) with the question “who are you?” ?.

How much of your answer is tied up in the roles you play i.e. what you’re doing and not about your core being?


  1. I used to think I was a corporate executive.

    Then I left work to raise the kids, and I thought I was a Mom.

    Now, all of the children are out of the house, I am a retired Grandma, and I wonder: Who am I?

    Yes, some of our identity changes as we go through different stages of life. I am fortunate to have had the strong and positive family relationship which enabled me to switch gears at the appropriate times in my life, without losing my sense of self.

    Thank you for an informative article today!


  2. I believe that the school evolved into a place where children learn about the values of life that were previously learned at home. I’m not judging whether this is good or bad, in my opinion, this is the current reality. With that being said, it is the parents’ responsibility to place their children in a school that best matches their values.

    My husband and I commute over an hour and work full-time- an economic necessity. School does for our children many of the things I wish I could do, but cannot, for lack of time.

  3. My oldest daughter, 10, struggles with this idea. She is an extremely bright and thoughtful girl, and wonders aloud what makes her special if all children are special! She is looking to define herself in a way that does not also define all of her friends and neighbors.

  4. In regard to parents abdicating the responsibility of teaching their children to schools. I have a somewhat different attitude, I feel as a parent I have the ultimate responsibility for my children’s education. I treat the schools(public) as a supplement to what I teach them. I look at it as a partnership. I check their homework I’m involved in their school work. I believe this attitude serves me well, both of my kids are in the schools gifted program.

    As far as who we are…hmm. I guess it depends on where we are in our lives and what challenges we accept for ourselves. I think our experiences define who we are. Right now I am a husband, a provider for my family, I am a teacher of my children, I am a swimmer, a golfer. I am honest and have a lot of integrity.

    My kids fell good about themselves and show a lot of self confidence. To me they are amazing and have exceeded every expectation I have had of them.

  5. I am a unique and unrepeatable miracle of God…and so is every single person in this world. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t need to define myself with any of this world’s labels.