As moms & dads we are put to the test when it comes to raising kids. What is right, what is wrong, how you should show empathy while also sticking up for yourself, include everyone, treat others as you would want to be treated, and the list goes on. There are so many variables when it comes to raising kids and it’s overwhelming. Every day we enlist the help of grandparents (even if it’s via Facetime), uncles, aunts, and our daycare provider to help instill values in our children’s lives every day. It’s okay to ask for help and to find help if you need it!
The Formal Mentor
I am currently a Big Sister through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and have been matched with my Little Sister for 6 years. She was 12 when I met her. She came from a two parent household with lots of extended family members who were more than supportive to her; however, something was missing. I was matched with my Little to be a sounding board. Someone outside of the family to listen to her without bias, to give advice, to be there for her when she needed someone to call.
She is now 18 and while getting together gets harder and harder she still knows I’m there for her and will always continue to be. I’m there to give direction without judgement while also instilling in her positive values and making sure she is safe.
The Informal Mentor
Finding your child a mentor doesn’t have to come from a formal program. Identify a person in your child’s life that your child may already look up to. The people who your children will look up to for advice as they grow older. We need to embrace these people. These people are those who we can have in our corner—to help raise our children to be the best they can be. I like to refer to it as ‘the tree of trust’. If I were helping a family identify this person I would use this example.
Take a look at a tree and on each branch of your child’s tree help them identify someone they trust and feel comfortable talking with. It can be you, your spouse, sibling, grandparent, Godparent, etc. Essentially, identifying that extra support for our child is someone who can help them stay out of trouble and stay safe from trying situations that may come their way. I know, you may be attached at the hip with your teenager. I currently have a threenager and she is almost physically attached at my hip. But it may be true that no matter how close we are when she is in high school, I’m sure I’ll be offended that she doesn’t feel comfortable calling me when she needs a ride. I know that I’ll be forever grateful that there is somebody she’s talking to.
Remember it is important to stay on the same page with whomever will be in this role for your child. Let them know how you feel about them addressing tough topics such as sex and how you would like them to handle those types of questions.
Why We All Need Mentors
It’s hard for some to grasp— some may think mentoring is only for kids who are missing the gendered significant role model in their life or maybe the mentality our life is perfect, my kids are perfect. Well, ain’t nobody perfect. Take a personal look, can you identify someone who has been a significant person in your life that you looked up to as a mentor? I bet you can. With everything our children are facing in this world today, let’s utilize them now more than ever.
It just so happens to be National Mentoring Month! If you feel that your child could benefit from a formal mentor, there are several credible mentoring organizations where safety is their number one priority. For more resources on finding a formal mentoring program that best fits you and your child’s needs you can go to mmpomaha.org.