The Words of the Otomo Family

How Blessed Children Form and Develop Their Identity

Yuiji Otomo
December 2011

Mr. Otomo and his Korean wife were blessed among the 30,000 couples. They have four children.

Previously, we discussed various aspects of the identity of members of our second generation. This time, I'd like to discuss how their identity is formed. How, generally speaking, does an individual's identity take shape? It is thought that identity develops through three elements -- role models, ideology and messages from society. Identity is formed by incorporating material that is related to one's own life, starting with these three elements, and combining them in various ways. This is represented in the diagram on the following page. Let's look at each of these three factors, one by one.

The first is the role model. This refers to adopting a way of life from people you have actually met. The term "way of life" is broad, ranging from small gestures and ways of speaking in daily life to choosing a profession or one's guiding principles. We learn many things in life from people we have encountered and incorporate what we learn into a model for our lives.

For example, we do this in choosing a profession. I used to be an instructor at a graduate school that trained clinical psychologists. When I asked why the students had chosen becoming clinical psychologists as a career goal, one said, "When I was in junior high school I couldn't bring myself to go to school. Speaking to a counselor helped me. I wanted to become like him and started studying to become a clinical psychologist." Many of the students had met a psychologist and had chosen their career with that person as a model. This is typical of realizing a professional identity through a role model.

In daily life, we often imitate our models. Our primal models are our parents. We hear things such as, "I realized that the way I scolded my son was much like how my mother used to scold me when I was small," or "Your way of lying on the couch and watching TV reminds me of how Dad used to spend his weekends." Unconsciously, we are assimilating these even small details into daily life from our models.

Next, let's look at how we adopt ideology. Ideology in this article refers to a theory, philosophy, or system of thought that relates to how we live. Adopting ideology means to incorporate these things, by thinking on our own, or incorporating ideology absorbed through lectures, movies or books, into our own way of life. Adopting an ideology is something that is done consciously, and the thought system is often interpreted intellectually, and restructured. Through the adoption of an ideology, we can assume a lifestyle that we have not encountered before, or a new way of life as our own. The civil rights movement or feminism, for example, spread among people in the form of their taking in a new way of life that did not exist in the past, and changed how people lived.

The third element is messages from society. Diverse values are being sent out as signals in the society we live in. We could call them a view of social values. Each day, we receive various social messages and create our own way of life based on them. These messages from society vary by country or the time that you live in. That is why differences in lifestyles emerge, depending on the country or the era that you live in.

I have been involved with the activities of an NGO in Cambodia for about ten years now. Cambodian society is radically different from those of advanced countries, such as Japan or the United States. For instance, few students, only about 10-20 percent of all students, continue on to high school. Quite a few children do not attend primary or middle school either. In Cambodian society, a message is abroad that helping the family by transporting water or doing farm work is more important than going to school. Thus, they feel no guilt, or do not perceive that not attending school is a problem.

Of course, among advanced countries as well, different social messages, specific to the country, are broadcast. With regard to filial piety, and marriage, different social messages are being expressed in the United States, Japan and Korea. We all receive these messages from society, and they help give form to our own way of life. That is why Unificationists, who in theory should have the same faith, can have different views of faith, depending on their nationality. I have held training and counseling sessions for church members in these three countries, and I was so often surprised that depending on the cultural origin, the differences in values were so stark that I wondered if we were all members of the same church. For instance, ways of thinking about some aspects of the blessing and of filial piety differ greatly among the three nations. Such differences are what lead to conflicts arising within international couples. This causes me to feel the need to unify our perception of values, based on the culture of heart.

Among the three factors that contribute to forming an identity -- role model, ideology and social message -- adopting a role model is done both most unconsciously and predominantly. We are influenced considerably by those whom we actually meet, and we begin to imitate their behavior. Among role models, our parents exert the greatest influence on us. We grow up observing our parents' conduct. From simple things, such as ways of speaking or gestures, we are influenced greatly by our parents, and incorporate their style into our own.

Here, I am writing about how the identity of a blessed child is formed, and the most important aspect of that identity is religious. There are some who are second-generation Unificationists by birth but who do not come to church, or who do not wish to be take part in the Blessing Ceremony, or who say that the Unification Church is erroneous.

In light of that, how does the religious identity of blessed children form and develop? The process of forming a religious identity is drastically different for blessed children from that for first- generation Unificationists. We need to understand this difference. It is because first-generation Unificationists do not understand this difference, that many in our second generation begin to lose their faith.

Those of us in the first generation, in most cases, heard lectures on the Divine Principle, became inspired by its truth, and joined the movement. Because the Principle is truth, we learned that Rev. Sun Myung Moon is the Messiah, and came to develop our faith. Therefore, the starting point of our faith was the Divine Principle lectures. Our faith was formulated by the Divine Principle lectures we heard in workshops. From the viewpoint of the elements that form identity mentioned earlier, we can say that our religious identity was formed by assimilating an ideology.

However, blessed children are different. Blessed children encountered faith before they heard Divine Principle lectures in workshops. The starting point of a second-generation Unificationist's faith is not a workshop but that person's parents. That person grew up observing his or her parents' faith. Before adopting the Divine Principle lectures as an ideology, adoption of faith occurred from the parents as role models.

We can say that from the elements mentioned above, a blessed child's religious identity is predominantly formed by adopting it from role models. That is why we can say that blessed children begin to develop faith when they begin seeing their parents as models of whom they want to become or as models they do not wish to emulate, in which case, they will not maintain the faith. Even if they attend workshops and listen to Divine Principle lectures, they will not accept the Principle if they are rebelling against their parents.

As mentioned above, adopting a model is predominantly done and most unconsciously done among the factors contributing to identity formation. Emulating a role model is a more common factor than adopting an ideology. Thus, if you fail to adopt a model, or feel you don't want to become like a particular model, or that you want to lead a life that is different from a model (this is known as a counter identity) no matter how much you may study a thought system that the model believes is wonderful, you will not wish to accept it. In other words, the religious identity of a second-generation Unificationist is formed not at a workshop, but within the parent -- child relationship.

In this connection, blessed children and Jacob's children' are the same in terms of the formation of religious identity.

From the viewpoint of lineage, second-generation Unificationists and Jacob's children are different. Jacob's children belong to the same sphere of lineage as those in our first generation. Nevertheless, Jacob's children have observed their parents as models before hearing Divine Principle lectures, so the course by which their religious identity is formed is the same as second-generation Unificationists.

First-generation members are unaware of a difference between themselves and blessed children. Thus, when a blessed child does something counter to the word, the parents try to have him listen to Divine Principle lectures right away; they try to convince him go to a workshop. The reason for this is that first-generation members themselves developed their faith through Divine Principle lectures in workshops. They are thinking that if a blessed child listens to Divine Principle lectures, they'll develop faith as they themselves did. However, those in our second generation are different. Unless they believe that they want to live as their parents do, they will not come to have faith, no matter what workshop they attend or what lectures they listen to; if parents try to force their blessed children to attend a workshop, the children will only more firmly turn their backs on it. In other words, what the parents believe is good for their children turns out to have an adverse effect on them.

I heard that a son in one elder's family said he wanted to marry outside the church and brought his girlfriend home. This happened suddenly and the father was caught by surprise. So he said to his son, "Before I approve of your marriage, there is one condition. Take two days and listen to my lectures." That father had been a church pastor for a long time and was well-known as a Divine Principle lecturer. He lectured to his son for two days, from the Introduction to the Second Coming. He thought that if his son heard the lectures properly, he would come to have faith, and reconsider marriage. After two days of lectures, he asked his son his impression after the final talk in the evening. The son said, "As you said, Father, I've listened to two days of lectures. Now you'll allow me to get married, won't you?" The father was so discouraged he didn't know what to do, and came to talk to me. From the viewpoint of developing his son's religious identity, the father had done something he probably should not have.

In order to bring a blessed child to have faith, you should act in such a way that your child comes to feel that he or she would like to become like you. Thus, when your child stops going to church, or rebels, or does something that goes against the word, please try to reexamine the way you are as parents, and try to change your way of life, instead of making the child listen to the word. Something in the way the parents are probably causes the child to turn his back on them. Please try to change the way you approach your child. The faith of a blessed child is fostered in parent -- child encounters. So, instead of sending your child off to a workshop, try taking a trip together. Make quality time to discuss things fully.

Parents and their children understanding each other well is very important in developing the faith of a second-generation Unificationist.

Of course, that does not mean that a child does not need to attend a workshop. At a certain age, it is important to hear the Divine Principle systematically as a whole. However, that in itself is not what forms real faith. Faith in the true sense is developed through the encounters between parents and children. When the blessed child feels, "I want to live like my parents," they will become able to embody the Principle, which they have been hearing until then, as their own faith.

From now on, please try to share about your own faith as parents, and not just give the Principle in words. Try to demonstrate your real situation as parents, in addition to conveying what the ideal should be. When our blessed children resolve within themselves to live as their parents do, looking to their parents as their models, they will form true faith. 

Table of Contents

Tparents Home

Moon Family Page

Unification Library