Mentoring Matters

What If……


We don’t hit it off right away?

It’s not easy to trust a stranger, especially if you are ayoung person who has had a lot of bad experiences with adults in the past.  It may take a while to build up trust.  Don’t interpret caution as a rejection.  A young person may not show it, and he or shemay not even know it fully, but your help is definitely wanted. Think of thestudent’s feelings first and your feelings second.  Be patient, be kind, and be consistent.  It will pay off in the long run.

What if something comes up?

While most mentoring relationshipsdevelop and flourish without serious problems, things do happen.  Mentors have an important role, but that roledoes not include medical or psychological treatment, or family counseling.  There are support groups in place for a realemergency.  Contact the mentoring programfor information.  The most you areexpected to do—or should do—is to help guide your mentee to the appropriatesource of professional help.

What if we don’t have anything incommon?

Many first-time mentors worry thatdifferences in age, race, religion, education, or gender will be insurmountablebarriers.  Actually, most experiencedmentors report that mentoring a younger person from a different backgroundbroadened their own horizons and deepened their understanding of other peopleand cultures.  So get curious.  Ask a lot of questions.  Listen hard. Learn about the differences you have and the similarities you share aswell.

What if for some reason I cannot mentoranymore?

This is a very serious concern.  Mentoring is a commitment.  It will do far more harm than good to enter ayoung person’s life, build trust, and then abandon the relationship.  Revisit the commitment you made when youdecided to be a mentor—you should have made a commitment for at least ayear.  Please do your very best to honoryour commitment.  However, things dohappen.  Be honest and open about thetransition and work together with you mentoring program to make the transitionfor you mentee as smooth as possible.

What if I do something wrong?

If you are there for your student nomatter what; if you listen and really hear what’s being said; and if you doyour best to counsel and not to judge, you will have done everythingright.  Some students are more ready thanothers for a mentor.  Some students maytest their mentor’s commitment.  Try notto take such behavior personally.  Justkeep trying your best and keep doing the right things.  Gauge your success by your actions, not yourmentee’s.



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