Why mentors matter
It takes a village to raise a child, and parents can take comfort in knowing that other adults can play a huge role in helping their children as they grow. Adolescence is a perfect time for children to develop meaningful relationships with trusted adults other than their parents. It helps them gain independence, express thoughts that they might worry their parents would disapprove of, and provides new perspectives as they are discovering who they will become in the future. These are necessary steps for growth and for gaining independence apart from their parents, even though this process may feel scary or uncomfortable for parents themselves. Helping your child connect with mentors you can feel at ease with is essential for all involved.
Tips for Connecting Your Child to a Mentor:
- Look within your church community for adults who are willing to mentor your child. Youth sponsors and Sunday School teachers might be good options.
- Don’t limit your mentor search to any particular age group – there are people of all ages who have the gifts to mentor well. Do make sure that your child’s mentor is at least two “life-stations” ahead of your teen. Middle-school students should be mentored by someone college-age or older. High-school students should be mentored by someone who is at least beyond their college years. Senior adults make excellent mentors for youth of all ages as they have a wealth of life-experience and may have more flexible timing than adults who are still working full-time.
- Make sure anyone who spends time one-on-one with your child has received training in establishing healthy boundaries.
- Communicate clearly with both the mentor and your child as to how you would like them to correspond with each other
- Pay attention to any red flags you notice and follow up when concerns arise from either the mentor or your child. Ask your pastor for help if support is needed.
- Let your child’s mentor know you appreciate them and the investment they are making in your child’s life.