As a mother of five fantastic children, three of whom have entered adulthood and twins about to embark on their teen years, I've realized just how pivotal the adolescent phase can be. Suzi here, sharing the urgency of helping our teenagers identify their purpose and how it can become crucial in ensuring their mental health and overall well-being.
Step 1: Encourage Self-Exploration
In my parenting journey, I've learned that self-exploration is the cornerstone of identifying one's purpose. It's essential to guide our teens to identify their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and values. My kitchen table has seen countless discussions, laughter, tears, and debates. By encouraging self-reflection, our teens can construct a strong foundation for purpose discovery, whether over dinner conversations, family games, or quiet, reflective moments.
Step 2: Foster a Growth Mindset
The concept of a growth mindset has played a vital role in how I've raised my kids. I've always instilled in them that their skills and intelligence could be developed through persistence, learning, and embracing failure. By doing so, they can approach life with a proactive outlook, seeing failures as opportunities rather than setbacks.
Step 3: Cultivate Empathy and Gratitude
As my older kids have grown, they've taught me that purpose often blooms from empathy and a desire to contribute to the world. I've seen this firsthand as they've grown into caring, community-minded adults. Now, I'm encouraging my twin girls to follow in their footsteps, participate in community service, understand diverse experiences, and appreciate their unique life positions.
Step 4: Provide Exposure to Various Fields
Much like a buffet, life offers a plethora of choices. My older kids explored different paths before discovering their purpose. This has shown me the importance of broad exposure. I now ensure my twins have access to workshops, online courses, and mentors in different disciplines.
Step 5: Promote Healthy Risk-Taking
Encouraging healthy risk-taking has been an invaluable part of my parenting strategy. I've seen my boys find joy in sports, now military and police careers, and my oldest daughter carve her own path in entrepreneurship. I now encourage my twins to take similar leaps, reminding them that it's through these experiences they might discover a passion that gives them purpose.
Step 6: Facilitate Open and Honest Conversations
Above all, I've always maintained open lines of communication with my children. Our home is a safe space where they can express their thoughts, fears, and aspirations. I've realized that trust and comfort are fundamental to exploring purpose.
Purpose: A Mental Health Lifeline
I've witnessed how understanding their purpose has led my older children to better mental health outcomes. It has given them a sense of direction, motivated personal growth, and helped them overcome adversities. As my twins embark on their teen years, I realize this becomes even more essential.
With a clear purpose, teenagers gain a sense of control over their lives. They feel less helpless, more resilient, and this significantly reduces stress. It can alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness. It can also enhance motivation and structure in their lives.
I have learned, and want to remind you, that it's perfectly alright if your child's purpose changes over time. The most important thing is to let them know it should align with who they are, their values, and what they wish to become.
As I continue on this rewarding journey, I hope my experiences provide the tools you need to help your teens find their purpose, strengthen their mental health, and set them on the path to a fulfilling life.
I have created a workbook that will help you and your teen work through your core values and create a value statement. Once you have a value statement, it is easier to determine if the things you are doing or committing to align with your values, and this helps with finding your purpose. I have included a few different gratitude worksheets to help you with daily gratitude practice.
This is something I do in the evening with my daughters; we journal and write down our gratitude for the day. It is a nice 15 minutes of time with them and is a sweet relaxing closure to our day.
Have an amazing day!
Suzi Freeman, Founder & CEO
Elite Minds Academy &
Teen Warrior Box