A mentor is an ordinary person who has certain life skills and experiences that can help, empower, inform and guide another person. A parent also has certain life skills and experiences that can help,empower, inform and guide their own child, but with the added element of being emotionally tied to the well being of the child. That is not to say that a mentor cannot become emotionally attached to the mentee, but it is a different kind of attachment.
A parent is biased, mostly working from guilt and a huge element of doting and duty of responsibility. A teacher again helps,empowers, informs and guides a young person, and also has a responsibility whilst the child is in their care, but at the end of the school day, even if they think about the events of the day the child is not their responsibility. A teacher’s main role is to teach a set curriculum. A parent has many roles, which involve care and teaching of right and wrong and giving them love.
A mentor is giving their time and expertise to the child. A mentor is the person who is friendly but not a friend, is a role model but not a parent and a teacher without teaching a set curriculum. A mentor is not someone who knows all the answers, a mentor can help the child find the answers. A mentor can help the child find ways of looking for their own answers to their own questions.
The main difference between a mentor from a parent or teacher is that the mentor is coming from the child’s view point. The mentor is child-centred and is going by what the child can or cannot do. If the mentor is a learning mentor then there will be a lot of active listening where the mentor will be trying to find out from the child their strengths and weaknesses in learning. A teacher may also do the same but may find it difficult to give one hundred per cent attention when already teaching a class of another twenty nine children.
A parent also may try to find what the child is good at and help them to grow and excell in their talent, but again, there is a power inbalance. A parent has to be the one in charge as they are the carers. A parent is trying to fulfill many roles and even though their efforts are in the best interest of the child there are other things to consider, like other children in the family.
A mentor’s role is to help the child that has been assigned to them. They can give one hundred per cent attention for that one hour that they see them for once a week or whatever has been arranged. In that time, it is the child’s time, the mentor is there to facilitate change in whatever is needed. What is needed depends on the circumstance, but first of all trust and warmth is created in order for the relationship to be of benefit to both parties.