Help your teen find their purpose: As a parent. One of the most primary things that I would wish for my children is that they live a fulfilled life. From whatever I have seen and experienced lasting happiness and fulfilment in life can never be achieved if one does not be true to their calling / purpose.
And teen age is a stage where they are more open and receptive to experiences. And these experiences make an impact or impression on them. It is also a stage where a lot of life critical decisions are taken. Decisions like career choices, relationships etc.
And when the teen is not prepared for this stage’s development. Or ill prepared. Then you land up having a teen who is influenced by their peer’s purposes or desires or wishes. And they land up following the herd rather than what they are cut out to do.
Doing things that are not aligned with their natural talents or passion or purpose are good stepping blocks for failure or super hard work and burnout.
And the last thing we like our children to feel is unhappy and dissolution staring into meaninglessness.
Topics covered in this blog
- Difference between passion and purpose
- Why should you help your teen find their purpose?
- 4 Types of Exposures that help your teen find their purpose
- Activities that can help your teen find their purpose
- The next steps: Reflect and integrate experiences…
- When your teen asks you what their purpose is
- 8 Things parents should be mindful not to do.
Difference between passion and purpose
Before you set all out to help your teen find their purpose. Let’s understand the basics so that we have no confusion on the terminologies. And we are also able to educate our teens when the time comes.
As per oxford dictionary
Talent: Natural aptitude or skill. What comes naturally to your teen. They don’t need to sweat it to produce a certain standard.
Passion: Strong and barely controllable emotion. It is driven by emotion. You can passionately feel a wounded puppy on the road or some cause.
Purpose: The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Some call its life’s goal, aim or meaning.
Let’s talk about the difference…
Purpose is more long standing than passion.
Passion is when you follow you make yourself happy and the span of impact is within what makes you happy. Whereas when you follow your purpose then it becomes larger than your own self it is about making an impact doing something beyond your own self.
When you follow your purpose, you land up making someone else happy or an impact on something and you derive pleasure from your work.
When you follow your purpose you invariably commit to facing the highs and the lows that come along pursuing your purpose. When you have only passion and no purpose the tenacity to accept and overcome challenges becomes follow
I read these apt lines somewhere and it stuck with me… Passion askes “What can I get out of this? Purpose askes “What can I give to the world?”.
Does it mean that you have to figure out only your purpose and not just follow your passion? Well not really. Experts say that the best thing to do is to help your teen find their purpose and align with their passion and talent. If they are able to do it. It is a magical zone.
Why should you help your teen find their purpose?
When a teen can find out their passion and purpose even if not fully at least broad enough to find a direction and path. The journey will lead to the following…
1. Knowing where their purpose lies. Gives your teen more clarity in their approach.
2. They will feel less confused and feel lost or overwhelmed. Helps them overcome the feeling of meaninglessness.
3. When your teen knows the “why” they are doing what they are doing. They will find more meaning in what they do.
4. When one does what they are passionate about. Self-motivation is the last of worries. Your teen will automatically get self-motivated to do a good job and achieve success.
5. It makes them build their own identity and uniqueness and offering to the world. Helps in shaping their personality.
6. When one does things out of passion. They tend to do it very well. And increases the chances of success. Thereby improving their self-confidence and self-esteem.
7. Help them grow and better themselves in the choices they have made.
8. Builds resilience when they problem solve and overcome challenges.
9. When one lives a life doing what they are passionate about and they are meant to do. They automatically have a better rewarding and fulfilling life.
One of the important decisions a teen will make at this stage is that of choosing their career. And that is explained in detail in the article How to Help Your Teen Make a Career Choice (http://myshadesofyellow.com/how-to-help-your-teen-make-a-career-choice/ )
4 Types of Exposures that help your teen find their purpose
A teen is still new to this world. And they are still trying to gain experiences. And they will seek these experiences through different ways.
Not all of them might be positive once. so, it is wise as parents to channelize this need to seek experience and point our teens to the experiences that we would like them to have.
The below 4 Types of Exposures when you give to your teen. You will potentially help your teen find their passion and in turn help your teen find their purpose…
- Exposure to serve others than oneself
- Give Exposure to Stages of life and events
- Exposure to experience different life situations
- Exposure to dive deeper and explore interests.
Read on to understand what these exposures mean and the activities that you can seek out or make your teen experience that can help your teen find their interest and purpose.
These exposures also help your teen make good use of their time. Help them get disciplined and build their self-confidence.
Related reads are…
- Internet addictionDisciplineSelf confidence
Activities that can help your teen find their purpose
I have listed down some activities for each type of exposure to get your ideas flowing. The more exposure and experience you are able to give your teen… The better the chances and probabilities are for your teen to find and figure out purpose…
Exposure to serve others than oneself
When you give them experiences that have meaning? Such as doing something for the community to serve others, it helps a lot in the formation of values systems, finding meaning and purpose and happiness. And also, so help your teen figure out their passion.
Some related activities are …
- Encourage them to call up a neighbourhood’s charity or religious place and volunteer to do some work there.
- Help them choose or join a cause that they are passionate about.
- Helping or tutoring younger siblings or other kids.
- Participate in environmental related activities. Green camps.
- Teach them to clean their items and donate things they don’t use.
This type of exposures helps your teen more open and sensitive to the needs around them. It helps them in their mental wellbeing, stress levels and depression.
Related reads that can be of help are
- Mental wellbeing
Exposure to experience different life situations
When you seek out and give your teen a change in environment. When you give them different life situations apart from the ones that you have at home. You are exposing them to different experiences which can help your teen find their purpose and passion.
Some related activities are …
- Encourage them to spend more time with nature. A visit to a park. A trip to the beach or lake etc… Any activity that connected them to the natural world. Such as fishing, Cycling in the park, rock climbing, hiking… etc…
- Enrol them for summer or winter camps.
- Plan picnics, travel, backpacking trips. Either solo or with family.
- Encourage them to participate in cultural events. Such as Christmas, thanks giving, parades, Halloween, etc…
- Take them to events that have different flavours. To make them aware of the world around them. A neighbourhood circus to sporting event in town. To a musical concert.
These exposures build resilience and smartness in your teen.
To know more on these, you can read our articles
- Face challenges
Give Exposure to Stages of life and events
When you allow or give your teen exposure to participate in important life events. it gives them an overall perspective of life in general. the milestones in life. And it gives them a broad framework of things to come or expect in their own life. It also helps them form a vision for themselves and their life.
Some related activities are …
- Encourage them to participate in family get-togethers and functions. It gives them exposure to varied interests people are pursuing.
- Take them to life stages events such as christening, marriage, reception, birthdays, anniversaries, house dedication etc…
- Network and find people who can help your teen visit college or office or factory premises.
- Take your teen to museums, science exhibitions, visit historical monuments, or places, war memorials etc. They give your teen exposure to things that were there and are around them.
- This point gets a stiff resistance usually. But gives immense value to your teen. Take them along with you if you are visiting a sick family member or friend. Take them with you to attend funeral services. The beauty and appreciation of life stems from here. Also, these are places where reflections of life happen. Gives you and your teen lot of insights and talking points.
These types of exposures make your teen hopeful and positive about their future. Help in combating anxiety and depression that can lead to suicidal tendency.
It also helps them build social and family relationships.
You can read the below related articles
- Suicidal tendency
- Family relationships
Exposure to dive deeper and explore interests
While the above-mentioned activities are to spark new and novel experiences thereby helping your teen find their passion.
Here you are expected to dive and dig deeper into what you already know. You would have some indication of what your teen’s passion is. Or your teen might be telling you their passion. Your duty at this stage is to help get deeper experience to understand the dept of their passion.
Some related activities are …
- Get them a part time work opportunity in the area of their interest.
- Enrolling them for Hobby classes or courses in line with their passion
- Find mentors or tutors in their field of interest and get them into a mentorship plan.
- Allied activities in the same field of interest. E.g. if your teen likes sports. Expose them to different types of sports. My son prefers cricket. And on enrolling for football camp he found out he loved Football.
- Help them set time for them at home to develop their hobby. Give the support needed. Like buy them paints if they like to paint. Or a musical instrument etc…
These types of activities help your teen to make new friends, increase social circles and build their self-esteem. Be sure to have a talk with your teen on friends and how to choose them.
You can know more by reading the articles below…
- Types of friends
- Self esteem
- Financial wisdom
The next steps: Reflect and integrate experiences...
All these activities and experiences will become more effective if you are able to help your teen integrate their experiences. So, give some time for your teen to reflect their experience and set some time with your teen to talk about their experience.
To do that you can follow the outline questions that I have listed below… This will help you cover the basic points and get your conversation going…
- Give your teen time to reflect. Gather their thoughts.
- Ask your teen to explain their experience
- Ask them to explain their feelings
- Ask them if they liked the experiences.
- If Yes: Get them to talk about at least one thing they liked about the experience and why
- If Yes: Why do they think they enjoyed it.
- If No: Get them to talk about at least one thing they did not about the experience and why
- If No: Which part of it made them dislike the event.
- Ask them if they can see themself doing it. Will they be excited about it?
- If yes, ask them if they can do it forever or once in a while?
- Did they learn something new? Check with them if they like to explore further on it. If they like to know more or find mentors or join coaching classes to improve upon.
- Ask them if they feel they have made good use of their time and effort today.
- And the final one is … one a scale of 1 to 10 how happy do they feel.
You and your teen keep making notes of the conversation so that you can tactfully guide them to paths that might lead them to discovering their purpose.
When your teen asks you what their purpose is
“Mom, what do you think is my purpose”. Almost verbatim in a gap of two years both my sons have asked me.
If they have not asked. Almost 99% of my friends have asked their teen kids “what they like to do”. Well most of the time it is related to academics. But the conversation has happened.
Some stopped asking because it was leading to conflicts and power struggles. (We will soon tough upon the things we should keep away from doing shortly).
Below are a few questions that helped me talk to my teen to give them pointers, opinions and guidance (not in one sitting but over time in small doses). End of the day it is their journey and they have to take it. You can help and assist.
- I asked them about what they think their talents are?
- I told them what I think their talents are.
- Also ran a small game during family time that each one has a paper pasted on their back. And the others write what they think the person’s talents are. (Extra tip: you can do this with questions like what do you think the person will become (profession) in their life.)
- Educated my teens about talent, passion and purpose. How they are connected and yet different. At some point it is wise to start with basics so they have clear perspectives.
- Ask them direct questions like what do they think their purpose is. Ask them to go for it.
- If they have absolutely no clue. Then ask them what they like to do…
- Or what makes them forget the world, day or time when they get engrossed in doing something they like.
- Or questions like what moves them, what makes them feel so emotionally overwhelmed that they cry, or what topic they like to talk about the most.
- If they need further assistance ask them what they will be doing if they have no school or family routines and all the money in the world.
- Follow the answer with another question. Can they do this (what they mentioned above) everyday, all the days and forever.
- If they say yes: Then ask them what they are willing to lose or give up or put up with to achieve what they want.
- If they say no: Talk to them about passion and encourage them to pursue the passion as a hobby.
- Ask them though provoking questions which will help them answer the “why?”. Few questions like…
- Will it make them feel important if they follow the purpose they are talking about.
- Will it be a good use of their time if they spend pursuing it?
- Is it in line with their talents (I strongly feel your purpose is hidden within your talents?)
- Will they be ok to make a fool of themselves when they try and fail?
- Will they be ok if people tease them or tell them it is of no use? Or will it break them.
- Their friends may not follow this path or sometimes even understand it. Your teen might have to make sacrifices will they be ok with it.
- Ask if your teen says yes or a confident positive answer to all the questions listed out above. Then play the devil’s advocate once in a while. To gauge the strength of their resolve.
(My elder one has a resolve of steel that I would not last more than 3 questions when I play the devil’s advocate with him. My daughter on the other hand will not last 3 questions before she says “Yeah! Maybe No..I think I don’t want it…”).
- Continue to keep giving them exposures and experiences and don’t stop just because you believe your teen has found their purpose.
- Have these conversations at different times. And all throughout your kid’s life. Not just teenagers.
Read our article emotional connect and positive thinking to help you along in this stage.
8 Things parents should be mindful not to do.
- Jumping to conclusions. Esp. when your teen talks about purpose and passion you don’t understand. E.g.: “What is DJing? It’s bad for family reputation to stand in front of partying people and playing music”
- Power struggle: Being rigid on your expectations and not accept anything that does not fall in line. E.g.: “All in our family has been doctors or lawyers. What will you do if you want to be a yoga instructor”?
- Discourage when they tell you about their passion. “E.g.: Being an international football player is too difficult”
- Be a dream shatterer due to the constraints that you currently have. E.g. “You can’t go to an Ivy league college because it is out of town and expensive. We can’t afford it”
- Be a naysayer or a doomsday sayer and limit their thoughts. E.g.: “if you concentrate only on your passion. You will not go anywhere in life”
- Look at the monetary benefit of it the way you understand and cripple the dream. E.g. “What will being a poet give you. You can’t afford a decent meal with what you earn”
- Undermine the purpose. E.g. “Volunteer work is good, do it in your free time. Work for a corporate and not a volunteering organisation”.
- Being judgemental. Failure is one of the given things in life. Even when someone followers their purpose. There is bound to be ups and down. Being judgemental, or holding an “I told you so” attitude or pushing them to give up and change course.
Remember you as a parent can only give and show and point out experiences. Not all experiences or any of the ones you give your teen might lead to a “Eureka” moment. But it is wise to still not give up and continue to give new experiences whenever possible. After all, you never know when they all come together. Or when one experience can be a defining one.
End of it the sense of purpose needs to be found out by the individual. You are only ensuring that you give them the matchsticks given to light the campfire.