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Helping Kids find their Purpose

By helping our kids realize their own purpose, they become more accountable for themselves and their future.

I have two teenage daughters. My eldest is about to start college and my youngest is in 10th grade. Every day, I’m still learning and growing as a parent and I can’t say I’ve mastered my parenting skills at all. Far from it. There’s still so much trial and error. Some things I learn the hard way and others I feel like I score big time due to luck. Over the years of doing so, I’ve picked up a few things that I feel would add value to those who are just starting their parenting journey. In no way is this intended to be a fix-all or fail-safe list. Just a few things I hope will help.

 Here are the things that I feel will help kids begin to figure out their purpose. Some Do’s and Don’ts I wish I knew earlier myself.

Do…

…encourage them to try new and different things. Kids need to explore as much options as they can so they can narrow them down to things they eventually find interesting enough to pursue. Give them a good variety of things to try in different areas like art, music, sports, etc. Ask them to join new clubs at school that spark their interest.

…talk to them about the careers, businesses and jobs that other people do. Then watch for cues that might signal an interest in them. Very often, kids are only exposed to what their parents do and don’t learn enough about what else they could consider.

…let them fail. There is so much to learn in failing. It teaches resilience, humility, perseverance and so much more. If we are too quick to come to their rescue or solve a problem for them, it may not be helpful in the long run.

…expose them to work that helps others. If they know that the field they eventually want to get into can also help others, it teaches them compassion and the value of meaningful work.

Don’t…

…let them quit too early. If they sign up for a class, make sure they finish the whole season at least. Helping them to follow through and stick to decisions teaches them to be more persevering in the long term.

…use words like, “There’s no money in that” or “there’s no future in that field.” Too often, I hear kids decide on a college course because their parents told them that the one they really wanted had no future in it. How do we even know that for sure? These days, so many new businesses and new careers exist that were not around when we were growing up. We’re really not in any position to tell our kids that the field they want to pursue will NOT have a future. And if it doesn’t exist yet, why not create it? 

…belittle their problems. Everything is relative. For teens, everything might seem to be exaggerated. A little problem means the end of the world, and we tend to shrug it off or set them aside. If they come to you with a seemingly small issue, listen intently and help them to figure out what they want to do about it. Making them feel that you are supporting them will make them feel more comfortable to try things on their own.

…just focus on the results. Having good grades or garnering medals are good outcomes. Give more emphasis on the learning process and the journey they take. What effort paid off? How did they overcome obstacles? These are the things they will bring with them in the future.  By helping our kids realize their own purpose, they become more accountable for themselves and their future. They also enjoy the process even more. I hope this simple list helps other parents to try new things with their kids and, by doing so, learn a little something about themselves too.

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