Introduction to Cultivating a Connection to Purpose in Your Teen

By Gina S. Calvano, Founder and President of indigoforce.com

The vast majority of us begin to face pressure to decide what to do with our lives when we are around age 15 or 16 in anticipation of graduating high school around age 18.  Most of us aren’t even allowed to decide what time to come home from hanging out with our friends at 15 no less to decide the way we plan to contribute to solving the world’s problems.  Isn’t it just so crazy that this is the way of our world?

Although as parents we can (or at least try), to guide our children in this decision, often it produces anxiety because we too are emotionally involved in this decision.  We want our kids to secure a profession where they can be safe and healthy, pay their bills, move out on their own, start a family – be successful!  We want all these things for them AND, most importantly, we want them to be happy!

Psych Central Newsletter featured an article in January of 2012 about the keys to happiness in living and at work.  The article reported that what helps to make people happy includes:

  • connecting with others
  • learning and growing our skills
  • using our strengths
  • achieving our goals
  • finding meaning

People come to me in my private practice wanting to know – “What is my purpose?”  I tell them that it is the same for them as it is for every person.  It’s to serve others.  The real question becomes – “In what capacity can I best serve others?”  And many of us already know that question can be ohhhh so challenging to answer for ourselves no less for our children – right?

Ideally, we serve others our knowledge, skills, abilities, and talents.

We trust that our kids will connect with others.  They all have friends right?  Can we all agree that it is important to us that our kids connect (relate) easily with others?  However, connecting with others can sometimes go too far.  We don’t want them to blend in so well with others that they have no idea how to think independently or value their own identity apart from the affiliations they connect with.  We want them to get along with people and in return be accepted and well-regarded for being themselves.

We also trust that our children will learn and grow their skills – this just seems to happen so naturally right from when they are babies.  Plus, they attend school – and no matter what kind of student they are, they do learn.  So for the learning part of the equation we can breathe a sigh of relief.

However, using their strengths, achieving their goals and finding meaning – this is where it starts to get concerning because we as adults know it isn’t always so easy to connect to these things.

Do you want your kids to experience happiness from a place of knowing what makes them happy and for being appreciated for their unique interests and abilities?  If you do, then they need to know what works well and easily for them (strengths), what they want to accomplish (goals) and what they find meaning in (a sense of purpose).  As parents, do you agree that you are the ideal person to encourage them to discover these things?

Yes, YOU ARE the most important person to help them:

A Building Strong Families research study found that “Parents play a central, but not exclusive, role in shaping the lives of their children and teenagers. Extensive research shows that parents are more influential in their children’s lives than anyone else, shaping their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Yet parents are neither the only influences nor the only ones with responsibility. Peers, other adults, genetics, the media, and various other sources also play important roles. Ideally, all these influences can work together with parents to promote young people’s healthy development.”

So a parent’s best defense to make sure their children pick up on the right influences is to know what influences their kids the most in order for them to have the best opportunity to connect to a sense of purpose and achieve happiness and success.

Join me this Wednesday 5/9 when I will be joining Smart Girls Make Savvy Women on Savvy Conversations, a free teleconference, to talk about 5 Tips for Cultivating a Connection to Purpose in Your Teen.

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