Teen Entrepreneurship & Mental Health: How My Teen Son & I Found a Purpose During the Coronavirus Pandemic by Christine H.

When COVID-19 crept into our lives back in March, life as we knew it was forever changed. We have all been affected by this pandemic as a collective, but we have also had very individual and unique personal experiences of it. I experienced this through the eyes of my teenaged son, whose demeanor seemed to change quickly, after the socialization and sense of accomplishment that school sports provide went away.

I quickly realized that, especially during this time of remote learning when teens can’t physically be together, connection and a sense of purpose are key to feeling a sense of hope and inspiration. That’s true of course for all of us, but especially teens, for whom peer relationships are so important.

Teen mental health has been a prominent issue over the past several years, and that was before COVID-19, when remote learning became our new way of life. As a result, this pandemic has significantly increased the need for purpose and self-esteem among teenagers. I immediately began thinking about what we can start doing now, in this environment, to help our kids feel happier and more purposeful. There here must be a way, I thought, to use this experience as an opportunity.

When I asked my son to pick three things he could focus on during this time, he answered, “Cooking, golf and entrepreneurship.” In our family, we have always fostered the entrepreneurial spirit. Having founded two companies, I always encouraged my son to discuss solutions to real-world problems. This process allowed him to visualize himself as the next game-changer, empowered to solve big problems that we face in our world today.

The experience of verbalizing his ideas gave him the confidence to believe in himself. He felt happier, which in turn, made his parents happier. I wanted to bottle that feeling of pride and give it to other teens struggling in today’s COVID virtual-schooling environment. That’s when our new idea to create a community that fosters innovation and a sense of accomplishment in teens was born.

I set out to create a community where my own kids could find connection, community and inspiration. And because entrepreneurship was on his COVID to-do list, we launched this company with my son and I as co-founders. What better way to supplement his schooling than showing him precisely what it takes to launch a business, and involving him in the decision-making process? This way, my teenaged son could experience the successes and feel the failures that are so important in real-world learning.

I don’t know about your kids, but mine listening to everything an older peer says, but not so much to my advice. My middle-schooler is the same, seeking, like so many others, the validation of an older peer. So, we created a community in which young adult mentors facilitate and foster innovation through discussions online and on the phone with young teens. I remember how happy my son seemed after his first phone conversation with his mentor. And our young adult mentors, in turn, have also found a renewed sense of purpose through providing guidance to their young peers.

After seeing my kids suffer through virtual school, I could definitely see how they could benefit from improving executive functioning and communication skills. Our community fosters the same, with business pitch contests, inspiring young minds to create and pitch big ideas. Teens, with the help of their young adult mentors, are encouraged to innovate and verbalize their ideas into a succinct pitch to business experts, who provide feedback and help them grow in ability and confidence.

Watching this platform blossom has helped my son and I grow together, and given me a renewed sense of purpose. I realize now that the process of creating this community for my teen and middle-schooler, has worked to create a larger sense of purpose for our family, and for the members of this new community we have created. It has cemented for me, the idea that I have always shared with my son: true innovation has a way of emerging out of the most unexpected situations. And there’s always something positive that can come from the most challenging circumstances.

Learn more at Teen Innovators.

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Donna John
Love this story, Christine H. ! Congratulations to you and your son. Please keep us posted on the business.
How great is this?! 👍
Elisa Schmitz
This is a wonderful idea, Christine H. ! Way to go, to both you and your son. What a great way to connect and grow together.

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