By: Gene Roehlkepartain, Guest Blogger
Most parents can remember those neighbors, teachers, youth leaders, aunts, uncles, coaches, or other adults who left a big impression on their lives. They could challenge and inspire us like others couldn’t. They helped us think through different issues and questions. They opened our perspective to new interests or even college or career choices. We can help our teens grow up successfully by encouraging them to connect with other caring and responsible adults who can be their mentors, guides, and role models as they make the transition toward adulthood. Here are some ideas to help guide the way.
- Expand the "web" of positive role models. Seek out friends, neighbors, extended family members, teachers, and coaches who expect the best from young people. Find ways for your child to get to know them.
- Identify adults with positive shared interests. If your teen likes baseball, art, rap, science, or woodworking, there are probably positive adults you know who share those interests. Strong connections can form when young people and adults work together on things they both really care about in a meaningful way.
- Connect with the parents of your child’s friends. Older kids and teens often see their friends’ parents as significant adults in their lives. Ask your teen about the other parents that they see as welcoming and approachable. Talk with these parents, letting them know that they’re important to your teen and to you. If you have questions or concerns, find ways to make your expectations clear.
- Thank other adults for being mentors for your child. Take time to thank teachers, youth workers, coaches, and other adults who support teens through their school and other activities.
- Encourage grandparents, aunts, and uncles to do something special with your child. Both will enjoy it, and it will give your teen more connections to significant adults. Your child will also likely learn things about your roots by spending time with extended family.
- Stay in touch with the significant adults. Sometimes tensions can arise between parents and mentors when a child or teen feels a strong attachment to the mentor. Be proactive in checking in regularly with other caring adults so that you agree on expectations and hopes.
More Tools and Resources
- Find opportunities to be a mentor for other youth at United We Serve from the Corporation for National and Community Service.
- Highlight the power of mentoring during National Mentoring Month, which is supported by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
- Learn about opportunities for formal mentoring programs for your teen through MENTOR: National Mentoring Partnership.
- Find resources for your child's mentor at Search Institute.
Eugene C. Roehlkepartain is Vice President of Research and Development at Search Institute, and creator of the 9 Parenting Strategies. Roehlkepartain is widely recognized as an expert in child, youth, and family development in community contexts. Particular areas of interest include family strengths, community supports for families and youth, spiritual development, service-learning, youth philanthropy, and linking youth development with financial literacy. Join Gene for a free webinar about the 9 Parenting Strategies presented by ParentFurther on Wednesday, January 30 at 12PM, CST. Learn more >>__________________________________________________________________________________________
1. Image via: katiesea on stock.xchng.