Mentors, much like lanterns, can “illuminate dark and uncertain paths, calm and still doubts and fears with encouraging words, wise lessons, gentle touches, firm nudges and faithful actions.” These words of Marian Wright Edelman help us to become aware of our gifts as parents. We are mentors to our children and may be mentors to their friends.
How many of you remember your “second mom” who lived down the street, who may have advised you about things you were too afraid to tell your own mother or father? Sometimes it is easier to talk to someone who can listen without the personal and emotional investment of a parent. Sometimes a teen needs a “listening ear” and that is the function that you as a parent can provide to your own teen or to their friend. This conversation reminds me of the “village” concept – that “it takes a village to raise a child.” It is a way that parents can support one another – by being a friend and mentor to their friend’s children.
Teens are beset by a multitude of factors in today’s world – high expectations, risks of drugs and alcohol, competition, information technology, materialism, personal insecurity and fears about the future to name a few. But they are also the beneficiaries of the following: the wisdom of those who have gone before, the hope and promise of following their passion, the possibility of achieving at least part of their dream. We adults have an important role to play in our teen’s development. We can help them ease their way into the adult world.
We now know from research that the adolescent brain is not fully functional until the mid-20s! Doesn’t that make sense? In today’s world, teens need more time to assimilate all there is to know about being an adult. We can help them along the way by being a model and a mentor to them.
Edelman, Marian Wright, Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors
Fogarty, James, EdD, Over-Indulged Children: A Parent’s Guide to Mentoring
Commentary by Margaret Murchan, LCSW