There’s an old African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child”. The village was needed because there would be an absence of the parent at some point of time within that child’s daily life. Regardless of the situation whether incarceration, employment, abandonment or even death, that child would be in need of another authority figure in its life in order to be properly reared. This principle still exists. With the absence of that parent that need for an authority figure still exists. The mentor comes in and reinforces what the child is being taught or should be taught by the imprisoned parent. In this case mentorship now takes on a role of surrogacy parenting. The mentor now attempts to fill the void created by the absence of the parent and attempts to instill the common core values needed for the child.
Effective mentors who have the well being and utmost concern for the child will do everything in their capability to ensure this child is steered into the direction that will afford them the most prosperous future. There are qualifications that the mentor must ascribe to for the probability of the child’s success to increase. Different cultures and environments produce different world viewing individuals. These factors play a part in the need of the child and the qualifications of the mentor. A mentor with no sense of understanding for the child’s experience can be more detrimental than helpful. An urban child may not gravitate to a mentor of a suburban origin. Vice versa. The perception and reality of social, economic and geographic difference can cause a wall to erect between the mentor and child. Whatever the situation, a thorough and accurate assessment of the child needs to be conducted by the mentor in order to ensure a healthy and productive relationship. Opposites may not attract.
The beauty of the village was the sense of community and the proliferation of common values within it. The effective mentor will have the compassion, sympathy, empathy, experience and understanding needed to relate to the issues and necessities of the child. With these traits the implementation of accountability can flourish and trust can be established. This
provides the support and guidance needed for the child and decreases the probability of the child going astray due to lack of supervision or interaction within its life from an adult figure of interest. Although nothing is guaranteed, the pendulum does swing more toward success once a child has people in place to cultivate and nurture it opposed to a child left to rear itself. As one who volunteers in Correction Facilities, I see first hand the high volume of fathers incarcerated. Many meet their sons in prison as fellow inmates. These sons now find themselves in the cycle of imprisonment because as their father left, no one was in place to help fill that void. If we could poll the young man I’m certain he’d say, I had to learn everything myself and I did the best I could. I’m certain he would’ve welcomed a mentor.