The Powerful Role of Mothers in Adolescent Purpose Development


  • Lily Konowitz

    Counseling Psychology Program within Counseling and Developmental Psychology, Lynch School of Education, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, US

  • Terese Lund Wingate University, 211 E Wilson St, Wingate, NC 28174, US
  • Shao Wei Chew Chia Harvard Divinity School, 45 Francis Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138, US
  • Madeline Reed Counseling Psychology Program within Counseling and Developmental Psychology, Lynch School of Education, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, US
  • Willow Wood Counseling Psychology Program within Counseling and Developmental Psychology, Lynch School of Education, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, US
  • Belle Liang

    Counseling Psychology Program within Counseling and Developmental Psychology, Lynch School of Education, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, US

  • David Blustein Boston College, Lynch School of Education, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, US
  • Mike Barnett Innovations in Urban Science Education Lab, Professor of Science Education and Technology Lynch School of Education and Human Development, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, US



Adolescence is a critical time for the cultivation of life purpose, also known as a meaningful long-term aim focused on contribution to others. Youth with purpose, especially marginalized youth, report a number of positive outcomes. Relationships with caring adults appear to be particularly helpful in guiding young people on their path to purpose, but little work has focused specifically on the role of mothers. This qualitative study, approved by a Institutional Review Board, examines how twenty adolescents from marginalized communities describe their sense of purpose and its relationship to their caregivers. The sample size was determined based on saturation, a process in qualitative research when the researchers begin to observe redundancy in the data. Through content analysis, a major theme emerged: the role of mothers and their impact on purpose development on their children. Results showed that mothers helped their adolescents develop their sense of purpose through serving as a sense of inspiration, providing the adolescents with support, sparking a desire for the adolescents to make their mothers proud, and through the mothers and adolescents in engaging in conversations about one’s future.


Adolescents, Positive youth development, Purpose, Marginalized youth, Mothers


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How to Cite

Konowitz, L., Lund, T., Chia, S. W. C., Reed, M., Wood, W., Liang, B., Blustein, D., & Barnett, M. (2023). The Powerful Role of Mothers in Adolescent Purpose Development. Journal of Psychological Research, 5(1), 1–16.


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