Becoming a mentor to a teen is probably not as difficult as you may think nor as daunting as it sounds. In fact there are teenagers everywhere and no doubt several within your sphere of influence. If you are the parent of a teen or teenagers then you have a harvest ready to reap, their friends. When my children were teenagers their friends always wanted to listen to what I had to say, even if my own kids tuned me out. When I would be at a school event they would seek me out and tell me about their day, their plans, anything. Was it because I am very wise? No it was because I was not their parent and therefore not a threat to the independence that they were fighting so hard to develop.
Perhaps you don’t have children or you are beyond the years of raising teens. Then you may work with some young people who could greatly benefit by your input into their lives. Or there might be a youth group at your church or in your community where you can volunteer. Teenagers want to be heard and they fear opening up to their parents. Not because they doubt their parents’ love but because they fear disappointing them in some way. I remember as a teenager opening up to one of my aunts. She was easy to talk to and although she loved me she didn’t have the same emotional investment that my parents had. She could be objective and yet she was family so I knew that her advice would always be to my advantage. Maybe there is a teenager in your family that you can help navigate the tumultuous waters of adolescence.
Mentoring is really just listening and being ready with sound advice when asked for it. It is exhibiting a lifestyle that says “you can trust me, I have your best interest at heart”. It is being steady and ready for anything and everything. It is an attitude of encouragement that lets a teenager know that you believe they can make it and make it big. The objectivity of parents is overshadowed when raising teenagers by their concern for their child’s well being and so the objectivity of the mentor becomes even more crucial. It can make the difference between a young person giving up on themselves or moving ahead with confidence.
Don’t shy away from teenagers. It takes patience and hard work to pour into their lives but ultimately we all benefit when young people become great citizens of our world.