The challenges facing teens in today’s world are daunting. They range from body image and peer pressure to newer issues related to the use of social media.
Teens crave the attention of an adult to guide and encourage them. A mentor can be a great asset to a teen who lacks this presence in daily life.
Lack of a healthy relationship with a trusted adult increases a teen’s likelihood of:
being a target of bullying
drug or alcohol use
Mentoring also benefits teens who have consistent adult support but experience a difficult life change like parental divorce or moving to a new city or school.
What is a Mentor?
Any trusted adult who provides consistent, sound guidance can be a mentor. He or she is a positive influence and acts as a sounding board and advisor. A mentor’s job is to listen, encourage, and coach a teen toward success. The main goal is to help teens feel good about themselves and make them feel valued as human beings.
A mentor tries to:
foster self-esteem and self-confidence
encourage healthy life choices
provide hope for the future
help a teen to believe in him- or herself
promote good decision-making
help build communication and other useful life skills
assist with motivation, focus, goal setting, and goal achievement
be a good role model
A good mentoring relationship also includes having fun. Establishing a real bond means spending real time together: perhaps taking a walk, going to a sporting event, or playing a game. Teens without a positive adult force in their lives may be wary of adults. Spending time doing fun activities together can help build trust.
Who Can Be a Mentor?
A mentor should know the teen and be someone in whom the teen can fully confide.
a church leader
a family friend
a relative such as an aunt or uncle
a youth group leader
The comfort of the teen to speak freely is essential. For this reason, parents are not the best candidates to mentor their teens. Some topics might be embarrassing to discuss with a parent, or a teen might worry that certain subjects could get him or her into trouble. In these cases, a mentor is a far better option than turning to teenage friends. A mentor benefits any teen in this situation, not just one who lacks positive parental figures.
What are the Benefits of Having a Mentor?
Teens with mentors tend to have:
better school attendance and academic performance
a more positive attitude
improved behavior at home and school
less violent behavior
increased high school graduation and college enrollment rates
A mentor can change a teen’s life forever, especially one who is starving for quality adult leadership. He or she makes a lasting impression and is usually someone a teen will remember forever.