Many teenagers go through troubled times and usually have many questions at that age. They struggle with finding who they are and knowing what they want out of life. They usually starve for attention from an adult who would believe in them. As a parent you may feel like the task of parenting a teen transitioning into the adulthood can be overwhelming.
Every good parent wouldn’t want their child taking troubled path, succumbing to crimes and getting into drug addiction. Everyone wants a child they can be proud of. A child that is physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually sound is every parents’ dream.
The good news is that you don’t have to deal with your teen alone. You don’t have to be the only adult in the life of your teenage child who can help him or her grow and develop into a person who can contribute meaningfully to the society. This is why every teenager needs a mentor.
“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” ― Plato
WHO IS A MENTOR?
Mentors are advisers, teachers, coach, therapist, or extended family member who guides an individual about classes, career, jobs and life choices. They are motivators and role models who believe in their mentees, see their potentials and help bring out the best in them.
If you ask any successful person about their success story, there is always attribution to someone who made an impact in their lives – A mentor. Mentoring is always a catalyst for growth and success whether it is professionally, personally or spiritually.
Not everyone can be a mentor. There are qualities and skills a mentor should possess such as; emotional stability, listening skills, counselling skills, being non- judgmental amongst many others. Training may also be required for volunteer mentors.
Mentors do not replace parents but support effective parenting.
“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living — if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” — Denzel Washington
MENTORING A TEENAGER
When mentoring teenagers, it is easy to overstep your boundaries sometimes. What an average teenager wants is a friend not another parent or authority figure. They want someone who they can trust with their fears, doubts, insecurities and troubles and can guide them in making positive choices.
Every teenager wants to be genuinely loved and not judged. They want to be actively involved in the mentorship process. They want you to listen and understand them. Mentors are expected to provide support, guidance and opportunity to help teens succeed in life and meet their goals.
Mentoring teenagers have been shown to have an all-round impact on teens and invariablely affects their future. Today we see people making impact in the society as a result of the mentoring received as teenagers.
Former Super Bowl champion Darrell Green was mentored by his middle school football coach. According to him, he had a coach who in a different way encouraged him that he could be a great running athlete… His coach was always encouraging him to participate, and he did. Green belives that this helped him see the possibilities when never came to his mind.
Also Astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn was mentored by his high school civics teacher. He is an advocate of mentoring and has spoken about the importance of being a mentor. “I think a mentor gets a lot of satisfaction in a couple of ways. They’re doing something constructive, so they feel good about that. And when they see the results of this, with the young people they’re working with, it’s very, very rewarding,” Glenn said.
WHY EVERY TEENAGER NEEDS A MENTOR
Research consistently proves the positive, long-term benefits of mentoring. Particularly for teens, a healthy mentoring relationship can be critical to achieving both academic and personal goals.
MENTORS HELP IMPROVE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Mentoring can improve academic performance, school attendance and graduation rates.
According to MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, children at risk who had a mentor were: 55% more likely to enroll in college, 52% less likely to skip school, 37% less likely to skip class.
However, a mentor’s influence runs deeper than numbers may indicate. Messages of empowerment such as “I believe in you,” “I know you have what it takes,” “it’s okay to try and fail,” — help recognize and unleash a student’s potential, which can change the trajectory of a life.
MENTORS ACT AS ROLE MODELS
Teenagers are at that phase in their lives where they tend to pull away from their parents. Having another adult act as mentors who they can look up to is very important. Mentors tend to share their values with their mentees which could help him or her (the mentee) build their value system. The way a mentor talks, acts and dress can influence their mentee in a positive way.
MENTORS OFFER EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
Teens find it diffcult to open up to their parents about matters of the heart and mind. A mentor is there as a guide and someone who is trustworthy and non-judgemental. Someone they can feel comfortable telling everything and anything.
For instance, a teen struggling with school work or bullies and afraid to tell his or her parents as a result of fear can open up to a mentor about these struggles.
Moreover, at that age, teens deal with a lot of emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, sucidal thought and negative pressure whether its from home, school or peers and starve for someone to be there for them.
MENTORS ENCOURAGE TEENS TO MAKE HEALTHY LIFESTYLE CHOICES
Mentors have the opportunity to connect with teens one-on-one and offer genuine life tips in ways that teachers and parents sometimes can’t. Through the sharing of their own life journey, problems and failures included, mentors can encourage teens to make better decisions in school and out.
Great mentors help guide teens to make good decisions, and help build the necessary life skills it takes to succeed as an adult.
MENTORS HELP TEENS GAIN EFFECTIVE LIFE SKILLS
Strong mentor relationships help teens build communication skills, conflict management skills, interpersonal skills amongst many others. Today’s teens face unique challenges. Never before has society been as connected as it is, yet so far apart. More and more social interactions are taking place online, sometimes exclusively, and students are losing valuable face-to-face communication skills.
Having these skills make it easy for them contribute meaningfully to the society. Adult mentors who understand the relevance of getting equipped with effective life skills would ensure these teens gain them.
MENTORS PROVIDE HOPE FOR A BETTER FUTURE
A teens confidence is built from better outcomes based on better principles. They learn to find what they truly want in life and how to pursue it. Young boys grow into strong capable men, and girls grow into confident capable women.
Mentors help teens realize their inner strengths that they don’t usually use.
According to How Stuff Works, millennials are the first generation to earn less than their parents. This can be very discouraging to teens and create doubt that pursuing a higher education is something that would be a good option for them and sometimes make them give up pursuing an education.
The connections teens make with their mentors allow them to explore career options that they may not know exist and encourage them to create strategic plans for their lives. This process builds teens confidence in their futures.
HOW TO FIND A MENTOR FOR YOUR TEEN
One of the big concerns that any parent would have about a mentor relationship is that it may be abused by the adult. That’s why it’s important that you and your teen trust the person who fills this role. That’s also why it’s important to be open with your teen about what to do if that trust is ever violated.
You can’t really choose your child’s mentor for them. Part of what makes the role special is that this is a person in whom they have decided they can put their trust. However, you can certainly vet the people who seem to be falling into that role.
You can ask yourself questions such as:
- Is this someone that I trust to guide my teen?
- Does this person share our family’s morals and values?
- Is this someone with whom I’m comfortable with my teen spending time?
- Do they behave in ways that I’d be okay with my teen emulating?
A mentor can play a valuable role in a teen’s life. A good mentor will not diminish a parent’s role, but enhance it by reinforcing family values and encouraging the teen to honor his relationship with his parents.
Mentoring is beneficial for all teens, not just troubled teens. Great mentors help guide teens to make good decisions, and help build the necessary life skills it takes to succeed as an adult.
MMM Services summer camp is for children and young adults between the ages 4 and 18. The group is focused on inspiring children by engaging them in productive activities that will prepare them for the future. Find out the latest activities lined up for our summer camp. on our Facebook page.