Potential v. Purpose in Life

I have been thinking a lot about parenting my child to fulfill potential v. parenting my child to fulfill their purpose. It has been an incredibly liberating thought. It is important to define what I mean by potential v. purpose. For me, the definition started with myself – how I live my life will guide how I parent.


  • Achievement measured by outside criteria – grades, awards, standardized tests, job placement, job/school promotion, etc.
  • Decisions guided by obligation to follow your determined strengths – You are good at math therefore you should…
  • Externally driven – requires outside validation
  • Little space for the atypical
  • Achievement Oriented – what goal have you achieved
  • Uncertain – Am I following the correct line to fulfill my potential?


  • Achievement measured internally – authenticity and integrity to an internal passion, calling, purpose
  • Decisions guided by Passion and personal values – I believe X therefore I pursue Y
  • Internally driven – requires self-awareness
  • Space for every type of person – typical and atypical alike. Both are equally suited for success
  • Mission Oriented – are you true to who you are and what you believe
  • Certain – I know that I am following what is right for me, regardless of external validation

Instead of wondering how I, or my child will fit into this world, I strive to discover “the why” in my own life. Why do I get up in the morning? Why am I inspired? What core purpose engages me? I start with the why.


Next Time: Purpose Oriented Parenting v. Potential Oriented Parenting


About aspergersmom

I am a 35 year old woman. I am the wife of an amazing man, who keeps me sane. As a recent California/Florida transplant to the midwest and the mother to a combined family of 6 children; 3 boys, 3 girls, my life is an adventure. I blog and raise our family with my best friend.
This entry was posted in Ah-ha moments, Challenges, Parenting on the Spectrum, Reasources. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Potential v. Purpose in Life

  1. Pingback: Why Parent? | Raising a Child with Asperger's Syndrome

  2. James Davis says:


    You make an excellent distinction, especially when placed in the context of traditional school. Schools talk about a child’s potential as though it is something known and measurable. In fact, we are all constantly trying to live up to our potential which is limitless and unknowable. We do this by living.

    On the other hand, purpose defines why we are living in the first place. When we connect to purpose we are more likely to also reach higher levels of our potential as human beings – defined by the individual not by some exterior entity be it a school, a church or government.

    James Davis, President

    The Davis Group Ltd.



    • aspergersmom says:

      Exactly! Thank you! This distinction was, for me, a huge paradigm shift. I will be sharing more on how that shift has changed my interaction with my children.

  3. Pingback: Purpose Oriented Parenting v. Potential Oriented Parenting | Raising a Child with Asperger's Syndrome

  4. Judi says:

    I absolutely agree with your assessment. I would add one more factor. I had to sit down and consider what the word “Success” means. It means something different to each person, but what the educational system in our country would have us believe is that success is a good job with good pay, a nice house and car…kind of the concept of keeping up with the Joneses. This is the concept of success that our society has portrayed. I define success in different terms. Each person has a set of strengths. Each person will reach a certain success within their strengths with the right encouragement, but to expect that each person’s definition of success should be what society has determined is setting people up for failure in the eyes of society even if they think they are successful in what they have done.

    I feel that my children (including my oldest who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s and ADHD) will be successful when they are happy with their individual achievement. what I mean here is that if they find work that they enjoy or they are happy in their family life. If what they do and are is fulfilling to them, then they are successful. No amount of money or possessions can determine one’s success because if they have a great job and a horrible home life, they are still not successful.

    Thanks again for a great post!

    • aspergersmom says:

      Exactly, Judi! That was my realization. When I changed the goal from externally measured success to internal fulfilment, everything changed! Thank you for your input.

  5. Pingback: Progress Not Perfection | Raising a Child with Asperger's Syndrome

  6. Pingback: Creating Space – Lesson 2 | Raising a Child with Asperger's Syndrome

  7. iKeropza says:

    Howdy! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from
    an established blog. Is it difficult to set up your own blog?
    I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about setting up my
    own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Thanks

    • aspergersmom says:


      It was not difficult to set up this blog. I used a wordpress template and with a few tutorials through wordpress and through google, I was able to set this up. I am not very technical either. I suggest signing up with wordpress and following the prompts.

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