Every teenager goes through the exact same exploration journey as the baby bird in Dr. Seuss's Are You My Mother?. Unsure of their identity, community, or role, they search for a persona, values, beliefs, and priorities that will give them the clarity and purpose they desperately long for.
Primarily, teenagers use their peers as mirrors and sounding boards in their quest to figure out their answers to those huge, foundational life questions. They might mix in a celebrity or influencer, too.
How nuts is that??
Teenagers will base the foundation of their lives on the opinions of other teenagers or media.
Nope—I'm not letting that be the last word.
What's the alternative? It's the people in my life who I admire and respect. I will intentionally create opportunities for my kids to get to know them, observe them, and learn from them about what's most important and the different aspirational paths they can take with their lives.
I don't expect my kids to follow my footsteps. In some ways, I think that would be weird, albeit satisfying. Rather, I want to introduce and expose my kids to the people who are living life well, both from a career as well as personal standpoint. I want them to see what courage and generosity and humility and a commitment to service looks like a different shapes and forms.
What does that look like in reality? It means inviting people to come and spend time at our home for meals. It means bringing my kids along to meet with other people, and facilitate conversations between them. It means being intentional to leverage the people I've met over the years to expose their influence on my kids.
I don't anticipate my kid or any kid to pick up the most important parts of life by osmosis or accident—I want to intentionally design an environment where they have every opportunity to learn from the best. You can, too.
Who are the people on your list you'd like your kids (or students) to get to know?
For years we’ve been studying what a young person needs in order to transition into a healthy, thriving adulthood.
They're uncommon sense ideas, really.
Download this checklist and use it with your students (or kids).