Do you know a grandparent, a special teacher, a pastor, a friend or neighbor? Any of these people can be a mentor! A mentor is someone who is willing to take another under their wing. These mentors can give advice and suggestions to help another cope or improve their skills. They can also show how they do something, and provide encouragement and support.
Mentors can can be anyone who provides guidance and support as we make our way through the easy and difficult, times.
For families with children, having a mentor who has “been there and done that,” can provide an example or a shoulder to lean on when needed.
Can you be a mentor to a family or child? Know what you can offer another. Mentors build committed, trusting relationships. They listen. They offer understanding and respect. They help others overcome challenges and disappointments and celebrate successes.
What can you provide as a mentor? While mentoring can be as informal as sharing a conversation and support with a friend while at an early childhood education program, or as formal as volunteering as a “Big” in a Big Brother Big Sister program, decide how involved you would like to become. It’s not about the answers. To be a mentor, you don’t need all the answers, and you don’t need to be an expert. The purpose of a mentor isn’t to provide answers, but to provide support, understanding and respect. Share your experiences if asked, but your most valued role is that of a friend.
Could you benefit from a mentor? Would you like to have a support system? Do you often wish your extended family lived closer, or were more supportive? Would you like to have friends you could turn to for advice? If so, you may benefit from having a mentor.
- Do you want a different way of doing something? A mentor may provide helpful suggestions, tips, examples and supports for finding and learning new ways of doing things, like coping with demands of a new baby, the “terrible two” stage, or balancing work and family time.
- What kind of mentoring could you use? Would you want someone as a formal mentor—like through a program, or that one meets with you at a specific date or time —or would you want someone you could turn to every now and then on an informal basis?
How to become a mentor or find one. It’s important to consider all possibilities. A person you may not have originally considered could be the mentor of your dreams. Keep open to who might benefit from your support and guidance.
- Check out our list of resources below.
- Ask others. Ask your child care provider, friends, church members, pediatrician, etc. if they know of someone who might be a good mentor.
- Look around for examples of someone you’d like to learn from. Is there a fellow parent who demonstrates a particular skill you admire? A friend who always seems to know what to do or say? A teacher who seems to have more than enough patience? Ask that person to share with you how they do it!
- Reach out to others. See someone you think could use a helping hand or support? Start small with a way for the other person to identify with you. “I remember when my son was going through that stage. Two year olds can be challenging!”
- Strengthening Families
- Parent to Parent of Pennsylvania
- Family Promise
- Pennsylvania Family Centers
- Arsenal Family & Children’s Center (Pittsburgh)
- The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania
- National Fatherhood Initiative
- United Way of Pennsylvania: Many local United Way offices have resources available within specific regions.
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of America: Find a local chapter in your community.