Like any parent, you want your child to have all the tools they need for success in their academic, personal, and professional lives. Positive adult role models can help give your child these tools. While parents and teachers are important role models, you may want your child to have exposure to more influential adults, especially if you don’t have relatives or adult friends living nearby to fill those roles.
Enrolling your child in a mentoring program is one way to ensure that they have access to a positive adult influence outside of work or school. If you’re considering a mentoring program for your child, take a look at some things you should know about children and mentoring.
Common Interests or Experiences Make for Effective Mentoring Relationships
If you think about the strongest relationships in your own life, chances are that they’re based on some common interests or shared experiences. Your child is no different—if you want them to bond with a mentor, it helps to choose one that has things in common with your child.
For example, children who live with learning differences, like ADD or dyslexia, can benefit from a mentor that also has these same challenges. The mentor can share their coping tips and give your child an example of the successes they can achieve despite their challenges. This is something that your child may not be able to get from parents or teachers that have no first-hand experiences with their condition.
It can also be helpful for your child to have a mentor who shares a common hobby or goal. If your child plays an instrument or is interested in music, a mentor who shares that passion can help inspire and encourage your child as they pursue that interest.
Parental Involvement Is One Key to a Good Mentoring Relationship
You may feel hesitant about entrusting your child to a mentor. Perhaps you’re concerned about your child becoming attached and then the relationship not working out. Or perhaps you worry about being replaced in your child’s life by the mentor.
Like any relationship, the mentor/mentee relationship will take work if it is to be successful, and as the parent of the mentee, some of that work needs to be done by you. In successful mentoring relationships, the parent often acts as a partner or guide to the mentor, helping them form a bond with the child. During difficult periods in the relationship, you may also be called upon to mediate on your child’s behalf.
Far from being replaced, you’ll have an important role to play in the mentoring process. Remember, all children need a variety of role models to look up to. By helping to facilitate a mentoring relationship, you’re doing exactly what a parent should do to ensure your child has what they need.
Mentoring Can Have Lasting Effects
Spending time with a mentor can be a good way to make sure that your child has new experiences, good role models, and a safe way to spend some of their free time. But does mentoring have long-term benefits? Research suggests that it does.
Mentees are less likely to skip classes or whole days of school than their peers. Students who are considered at-risk or low-opportunity and who have mentors are 55 percent more likely to enroll in college than at-risk or low-opportunity students who don’t have mentors.
Kids who regularly meet with mentors are also less likely to drink alcohol, do drugs, or experience symptoms of depression. Avoiding these pitfalls can have a positive long-term effect on your child.
Get Started Today
Of course, it’s important to find mentors who are appropriately screened and trained for the task. The one-to-one mentoring program at The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati can match your child with an appropriate mentor. Contact us today to get started.