Building the Self-Reliance, Technical Literacy and Community for Your Teenager
How giving teens a purpose can help them sustain their future career success
College and Career Expert Dr. Rebecca Israelsen is an associate professor of Health and Physical Education at UW-Madison. She has been featured nationally and internationally. Her work will be presented at the 2017 School of Education Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as the Baylisian Scholarship Symposium in 2018. Her articles have been featured in Forbes, RealSelf, Shape, Inside Higher Ed, WISC-TV, High Times, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, and Catfish in addition to being linked in others. She is an adjunct instructor at UW-Madison and continues to provide consulting services for several organizations, including EVANTIC and CollegeLife.
Israelsen spoke with MindShift on the topic of giving teens a purpose and how it can help them sustain their future career success. She explains, “Understanding the necessity for giving your kids a purpose in life at a young age helps them put things in perspective and ultimately enables them to make a conscious decision to achieve their goals. This builds self-belief, support and teamwork among the children.” She continues, “Our expectations of kids, in particular youth, are shifting. Given the recent grand success of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, it is clear we need a multi-generational strategy to guide today’s teens into an enduring career. It is not enough to believe that kids can succeed or find a good job. They also need to know that, to do so, they need a clear plan that includes the following three elements: connection with one’s values, care about community and belief in good works that contribute to the environment.”
Giving kids a purpose is instrumental in helping them to achieve their college and career goals. Kids today don’t have the time to wait to find their purpose in life. Finding their purpose is more important than ever. Israelsen shares that, “It’s never too early to help kids develop that self-reliance and technical literacy in an authentic sense.”
The parents of 15 year old Hudson Rice always knew he would become a medical professional, but with the help of his father and the support of his family he is not only following his dreams but he is also helping kids around the world! He is the founder of A4e, a nonprofit organization that helps fight diseases around the world, particularly those with HIV/AIDS and malaria.
So how do we ensure that kids get a purpose?
You can start early! Israelsen describes three ways parents can help kids develop their purpose.
Work out with the kids to identify how they like to exercise. Depending on their interests, they may like to play basketball, ride their bikes, or swim. The goal here is to take them outside to their hobbies which are probably based in interest. Ask the kids what they love most to do when they are not working or school or some other requirement. Ask them what their favorite place to go is. Invite them to pick a mission where they can help others. Many parents have asked me what they can do to help their child achieve this purpose. I always recommend that families find a cause they share. Working together around a cause builds greater trust and creates unity. When you are talking about helping someone they trust or you both enjoy, it helps drive the truth of the purpose. If you want to take things one step further, join an organization where you can give and receive an opportunity to help others. One family I helped found a program in California that provided a structured service for kids. They hosted a dinner to thank those who had donated to their cause. They also used this opportunity to walk the red carpet and promote their cause. Parents can simply email a request to their local chapter for help. Take action NOW by working on a statement of purpose for your child and get them to role play and practice at home. This helps them to ensure it will have impact. If you are just starting out, start with what you care about and work from there. There is nothing more boring than following instructions, as it will likely never match your unique interests. “Young adults in today’s society seem to not have an identity of their own yet, says Israelsen. “And that uncertainty is what is creating the value in each of us. Doing anything for the purpose of doing it is a great way to do that.”