When you look back on your childhood are their adults that helped you see the world more clearly, helped you grow the gifts you had?
I know I definitely did. When I needed a shoulder to cry on, a thought to process or just an ear to listen, many of the parents of my friends were so, so kind. I am sure I went on and on, but if they were ever annoyed or tired of hearing about it I never had a clue! And then there was a youth minister with the patience of Job and others in my church family who helped me grow my skills as a leader when there was opportunity.
I can tell you, I would not be who I am without their guidance.
Mentorships are like being in an apprenticeship for your character and knowing the power of a mentor, we knew we wanted that same opportunity for our kids. There are affiliate links in this post for the books. We appreciate you purchasing through our links as it helps cover the cost of running the LIFE 101 PRO blog. :)
Most of the mentors our teens have had, have come organically.
Like, Hannah's youth sponsor in middle school. She also lived next to Hannah's best friend and had an open door policy. So when she had the chance, her and her BFF would go over to Miss Elaine's house and do life with her. Sometimes that was watching TV, other times it was making cookies for the new neighbors.
One day we mentioned the idea, "Does Miss Elaine help you with your problems?" She thought and then nodded her head yes, so we continued, "is Miss Elaine someone you would feel safe talking to if you couldn't talk to us?" She quickly said yes. So then we said, "Mentors are people who can guide us on our journey and safe adults you can go to when you can't come to us. I think we are going to go have a chat with Miss Elaine and see if she would be up for being a mentor for you in this season. Would you be ok with that?"
She loved the idea, and thus mentors for our teens began.
The other main mentors in Hannah's life have been:
My mom, especially the first couple of year homeschooling 2 kiddos in a new (and tiny) town, Hannah would go spend a week with my parents. In the summer time, they were always sewing something and in the late fall, they were always decorating for Christmas. Just getting to have someone to lavish her with attention.
There was Darla, the Sunday School Teacher, that called her to check in on occasion and took our daughter on a nice long walk as she processed her grandpa dying abruptly.
As she got older, we noticed she gravitated to the library often. It was only a 1/2 mile walk, so she would walk up there for her PE time and hang out with Miss Lupe. Miss Lupe let Hannah just be herself and tell her how amazing she was as she is - all the time. So thankful for her! She also helped orchestrate Hannah reading for Story time at the library for a year.
Lastly, there was Cheyenne, a youth sponsor who had watched Hannah growing and becoming ever since we moved to that sleepy town. She was always a kind smile and ear for Hannah. But she also helped Hannah see her gift of encouraging others and coached her on how to love on and encourage the younger girls in youth group, as well as what was out of her hands.
Hannah's first mentor in the grown up world was the store operator at the Chick-fil-A she worked at. We were not involved with this mentorship but truly enjoyed hearing all about the things Chad taught her each time they were able to grab a lemonade together on break. About life, following Christ and helping her grow skills of leading people by serving.
Our #1 goal for the mentor for our teens is to help them have someone besides us to talk to when life gets rough.
For Mateo, mentors have looked like my dad. Mateo is gifted when it comes to all things STEM - and only my dad speaks the same language as him. He has gone out of his way to provide opportunities to help him grow his passion and knowledge for science and math - from helping Mateo learn how to create the tree house he drew (at age 13) to nowadays printing Mateo's 3-D creations on his printer for him.
There was Joaquin, the middle school youth sponsor, who took the time to spend time with Mateo when he had no friends in the youth group. Who also took the time to help him learn to control his emotions when he got upset.
Recently, there has been 3 teen suicides that effected the youth group and realized that in all the business of living in this fantastic new city, we hadn't slowed down long enough to help Mateo find a mentor.
So, that night we asked the question he had heard us ask his sister many times.
Who is someone you would feel safe talking to if you didn't feel comfortable talking to us?
If your teen can't think of anyone, throw some names out there of adults they have mentioned recently in passing. That's what we did for Mateo when he drew a blank.
He chose our neighbor - one of his friends dad's, Kevin.
That's the baseline we want in every mentorship - someone who is safe, shares similar values and our teen is willing to talk to them if ever he needs guidance and won't come to us.
Recently, Luke and Mateo joined a bowling league and needed more people to make a team, so now they are bowling with Kevin and his son every Sunday. It has been a great experience and they guys are even doing a book study - Mansfield's Book of Manly Men: An Utterly Invigorating Guide to Being Your Most Masculine Self and it has caused some great conversations among them.
Here are things we look for in mentors for our teens.
Those are what we look for in a mentor for teens, but feel free to come up with what is important to you.
Once you've decided that the adult would be a good "match" for your teen, contact the adult. Also, get the adults contact info and add it to your phone.
We let them know that when we asked our teen who they might like as mentor in their life, they mentioned you. Would you be good with our teen coming to you when they need advice or have things that they need to talk about and can't talk to us?
Every one of the adults have been gracious and happy to help train up our kiddos, for the most part it is already happening. Bu verbally stating the concept out loud gets all of us on the same page and helps them know to keep an eye out on our teens.
And that is one of the biggest blessings we have noticed from having these special adults in our teens lives. By letting other adults help guide our teens, the pressure to make sure we don't miss anything leaves. We can trust that between them and the LORD, the bases are covered and their is a beautiful freedom in that.
So, if you are wondering, we - Luke and I - can't recommend it enough. Each mentorship has looked different, but they have all been a blessing along this journey of raising our LIFE 101 PROs and we are so grateful we do this.
On the journey with you,