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I like getting up on a soapbox about helping kids figure out who they are. I feel it is a parent’s job to help their children get to know themselves and learn to love that person. If you fail to accept your children for who they are, that is, flaws and all, they may end up like the folks on one of my favorite television shows.

Catfish is a reality show about identity, about admitting who you are, even if it means admitting you are an unattractive, lonely, person saddled with life problems you cannot escape. Yes, these things can happen to our children even if we love them.

The show’s premise is that an individual is involved in an online relationship they value, but their online confidante is resistant to meeting in person thus raising a red flag about their identity. The show’s host, Nev, helps people track down the person on the other end of the relationship, and usually it is determined that person are hiding behind a false identity. Then the two people finally meet. One or both parties have lied about their looks, their life situation, their occupation, their health, or something equally critical, all using such handy tools as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But interestingly, almost every one of these relationships is a legitimately emotional one wherein the people involved share true fears and joys. They have truly supported one another in meaningful ways that make it hard to bear the thought of ending the relationship just because one of them turns out to be fat or married, or some other thing they have lied about. The deception itself ruins the relationships, not the truth of who the individual is.

Some of these people think that having a fake identity and then sharing real feelings is a fair compromise and often defend their decision to deceive the other person. Many of these relationships end just because of that. But some persist once both parties admit to who they really are and they have actual remorse for thinking that lying about their looks or other critical details can work in an otherwise honest relationship.

I love this show because it is about our relationship with ourselves as much as anything. Having to be truthful about every part of who we are and also expect to be taken seriously and treated fairly is not always easy. That is why it is important for parents to know that they have the opportunity and the power to teach children to love themselves. We can celebrate what our children do that is special to them, that makes them who they are. I am not talking about everything they do, just the things that make them special, like the way they can make up a rhyme, or how fast they can run, or how well they remember things, or how they can ride their tricycle up hills. Whatever it is that makes them them.

We all deserve to be treated seriously and loved regardless of our shortcomings. In my mind, all of this gives power to the idea that our most important relationship is with ourselves. One must love himself first and our parents are our first hope for learning that lesson.