Single parent and double income households create a void in the lives of children living under such conditions. Mentors fill the void, and thus have become an indispensable element of American society. The guidance of mentors extends to the classroom, playground, church pews, and within extracurricular organizations such as the Boy Scouts. Employers also offer a fertile environment for mentors to develop the life skill set of a boys and girls who do not experience that environment at home.
A mentor’s characteristics include patience, diligence, integrity, and enthusiasm. All of these traits exemplify the personality profile of a successful teacher, but mentors are more than professorial types who infuse knowledge into a willing student. Mentors are like sculptors, slowly molding character and persona8ilty until a mentored individual reaches maturation. Mentors lead by example, while blazing a path for their proteges to follow. Finally, mentors come from all lifestyles, and most importantly, are able to share mutual experiences with their proteges.
The last mentor requisite is perhaps the most essential component of a mentoring relationship. Boys and girls want concrete examples of how mentors handled difficult situations. Mentors may not have handled a situation well, but the mentoring relationship is not about dwelling on past mistakes; it is about learning the lessons of each tribulation. Proteges can take what they want from each lesson, and they often veer off the course set by the mentor. It is more important for a mentor to impart lessons learned than it is for a protege to assimilate each one.
One of the more hotly debated questions that pertain to mentoring is which gender makes the better mentor. The answer to the question is both genders: girls work better with female mentors, and boys work better with male mentors. The reason for the answer lies in the stark differences between the two genders.
Boys respond better to male mentors largely because of their common interests. For instance, males are more likely to enjoy watching live sporting events and activities that involve repairing or restoring automobiles. Adult males are better equipped to answer questions posed by boys who continually search for their identities. Boys want to know if it is acceptable to retaliate and fight another boy, or turn the other cheek and walk away from the potential conflict. Adult males have a closer perspective on that dilemma, having most likely encountered a similar situation in their youth. Moreover, adult male mentors will be more pervasive in a boy’s life, from instructing in the classroom to disciplining on the football field. Boys have more opportunities to interact with adult males.
The increase in broken homes makes it imperative for boys to have male mentors in their lives. Females generally run single-parent households, giving boys inconsistent exposure to male influences. We can evaluate the impact of female-only mentoring by looking at the behavior of the twenty-something male population. According to statistics, young adult males are less likely to work during their adolescence than their counterparts from a generation ago. They are also more likely to become addicted to video games and more likely to become involved in an inordinate number of simultaneous romantic relationships. Some social scientists ascribe these behaviors to a lack of male influence during adolescence. The social scientists that do recognize why male adolescents behave this way are succumbing to the ludicrous notion of political correctness.
If you want to study the effect of a lack of adult male mentoring, you only have to pout through hundreds of court documents that collect dust in our criminal justice system. Most male offenders do not have a strong male mentor in their lives during their adolescent years. The only male influence came from their peers, and often times that influence turned into criminal activity. The first time young adult male offenders receive any type of male mentoring comes from behind bars. Statistics prove that boys who roam the streets without an adult male guiding hand are more likely to become future inhabitants of a prison cell. The seminal reality show “Scared Straight” only featured males imparting the harsh lessons of prison.
We can argue back and forth about why boys work better with male mentors. I prefer to rely on an organization that has for decades promoted mentoring between adult males and boys. Bog Brothers/Big Sisters is an organization that prides itself on matching adult mentors with wayward boys and girls. The organization starts by matching the correct genders.