A mentor can be a trusted friend, counselor or teacher, usually a more experienced person. The person being mentored is more commonly referred to as the Protégé and sometimes called the Mentee. Mentoring goes all the way back Greek times with Socrates/Plato, and Plato/Aristotle having
Special skills are not required to be a mentor and mentors can come from all walks of life. What is needed are people that can give their time, experience, and to be able to listen to a mentee, providing valuable feedback. If you think back to when you were this age, there is probably someone that you could talk to about your concerns, maybe they didn’t always have the answers but they were there for you and helped you to think things through more clearly. Maybe they were your one or both of your parents, a relative, a teacher, or a friend, but they were there when you needed them. As an adult you have been through a lot to things that you probably don’t think about too much but your advice on dealing with these things could be invaluable and even life-saving to some of these kids. You might be able to encourage them to continue on with their education by pointing out the benefits of doing so, maybe you wish that you had gone to college and talk about this with them. You would be able to tell about how you got your first real job and help them in their preparation. You have learned so many of life’s lessons (some maybe even the hard way), your experiences could be invaluable to kid in need of a mentor.
According to the Mentoring.org, of the 32.5 million kids (ages 10-18) in the U.S, it is estimated that about half could benefit from a mentor (17.6 million) and of that there is an estimated mentoring gap (where a mentor is not currently available) of 15.1 million kids. Consider that:
- 1 out of 4 kids lives with only one parent
- 1 out of 10 kids was born to teen parents
- 1 out of 5 kids lives in poverty
- 1 out of 10 kids will not finish high school
A lot has been said and written about the decline of the nuclear family, one where there is a father and mother living together with their kids. There are so many mixed families where there are children from previous marriages (or relationships), where the parents aren’t able to full-fill the role that they have traditionally served in a nuclear family. I have seen many divorced families and can relate to the fact that the parent with primary responsibility is so busy in trying to do it all that they might not see the signs that their kid(s) need help and are struggling. Even in “normal” families there is conflict and rebellion between children and their parent(s) and kids might not talk to them about any serious issues at all. In many of these situations, a positive role model would be beneficial and could provide a bite more stability in these kids’ lives.
Unlike some of the major issues today that will require a lot of money and resources to solve, mentoring doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, is something that most everyone can do, and you can have an almost immediate impact. You’re not expected to be a parent to these kids. What is needed is people that are willing to spend time listening and just being there for your mentee. Even with the busy schedules that most of us have, you probably have time to be a mentor. Many mentors have said that they have gotten just as much out of being a mentor as the gave,if not more. This is also a great way to fulfill that New Year’s Resolution of “making a difference”.
Some of the local organizations that are involved in the 7th annual National Mentoring Month include state and local affiliates in the U.S. of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, Corporation for National and Community Service, Points of Light Foundation, America's Promise Alliance, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Communities in Schools, and United Way of America. Public service announcements from Colin Powel, Cal Ripken Jr.,
I hope that you will look into being a mentor. There are a lot of kids that could use a mentor; I hope that you’ll become a mentor.