Do kids need a greater purpose in life than getting good grades and winning awards? Are we teaching today’s kids about making a difference in life and growing up to be a good person?
Author William Damon thinks many of today’s kids have lost their sense of purpose and it’s up to parents to re-start this conversation. "I think we have, in our culture, confused short-term goals with long-term goals," says Damon, author of The Path to Purpose: Helping our Children Find Their Calling in Life, professor of education at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence. "We celebrate celebrity, fame and fortune. That translates into getting into the most prestigious college and getting together a good resume. But that’s not what I’m talking about in terms of purpose. Those are goals."
Part of teaching kids about having a purpose is conveying the message that these goals are a means to an end, not the end in itself. "It’s not the answer to life. The ultimate purposes in life have to do with the kind of person you are and contributing something to this world. Making a difference," Damon says.
In his book, Damon talks about how to guide your child to his or her own path to purpose. "Your child’s best interests are to develop a sense that they can really have a meaningful life and that everything they do in this world does matter," Damon says. "Don’t sell your child short by being worried about his or her economic survival or getting good grades or awards. The most important thing is the right kind of motivation and then all those other things will take care of themselves."
The Path to Purpose: Helping our Children Find Their Calling in Life is available for $16.50 at amazon.com.