Family Addiction Recovery: A Blog
A Q&A with Kendall Bronk about instilling purpose in teens—and the emerging research showing why it's so important.
Many psychologists are worried that kids today are falling through the cracks at their schools. Unmotivated to learn or bored with their classes or both, many are simply going through the motions or dropping out of school altogether. Some suffer from debilitating depression and anxiety, or act out their frustrations in unhealthy ways—like using drugs and alcohol, or turning to criminal behavior.
But there may be a way to help address this problem: encouraging kids to search for a purpose in life. According to Kendall Bronk, a researcher at Claremont Graduate University who studies how purpose impacts wellbeing throughout the lifespan, young people are hungry for purpose—and without it, they tend to be uninterested in school and more prone to psychological issues down the road. Contrarily, those with purpose look forward to greater wellbeing.
Bronk defines purpose as having a goal in life that you care deeply about and that contributes to the world beyond yourself in some productive sense. In some cases, she has found that all it takes to get young people started down a path of purpose is to engage them in deep, probing conversations, which prompt them to reflect on their interests and values.
I spoke to Bronk recently about her work in this area and how it might apply to teens and other young people.
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Timothy Harrington is passionate about helping family members of the addicted loved one awaken to their own power and purpose.