First of all, teens will never admit that they need a mentor. I have worked with several teen-age and young adults girls. They each have their own friends and family members, but many of them need a good role model. Someone that can show them how to act responsibly. But being a mentor goes a few steps farther.
You’ll meet teens from many walks of life. Most, if not all, will need to feel loved. They may have parents who are doing their best to take care of them, but are not emotionally close to them. So your love is what the teen needs. I don’t mean a cheesy friendship. Most of the girls who need mentors, have been through many hardships.
So love means laying the ground work of respect, authority, proper behavior. It is good to build type of relationship slowly. They have a parent most likely already telling them what to do. Try to make the mentoring moments quick and easy. Remember even if you have to lay down the law once and a while, they will want to come back and spend time with you. A real love deeply cares about their future, that means not worrying if you make them mad. Love tells the truth gently.
I’ve found some ways to start this new relationship slowly: get a coffee, quick talks on the cell or email, meet their friends, have them over once and a while. My mentee right now started coming over weekly after she stayed at our home because she couldn’t get her mom to come get her. It was after a winter retreat, and they live way out in the out. So when I told her good night, I tucked her in, gave her a hug and kiss on the cheek and from then on she’s been over a lot. She calls me mom.
Quite frankly, each child or teen girl that I work with starts calling me mom. I am flattered that they feel that way, but I’m not a buddy to be walked on, or pushed around. As a mentor I have to be the responsible adult when the mentee is with me. Give your mentee some freedom, until they break it. Let them check their email, or talk on the phone. But make sure if they are there to spend time with you, that they spend more time with you and not on MySpace.
If your mentee does make a mistake, make it clear what you expect from them and what the consequences are. For instance, my teen went outside and then walked down the road with a guy she started talking to. I told her that wouldn’t happen again, because while she’s at my house I’m responsible for anything that happens to her. Another situation was that she would come over for a few minutes and want to go somewhere after her mom pulled out of eye view. So I briefly ask when she calls to come over if she’s staying while she’s here. And now she does.
It is also important to be open to hearing what they have to say. And letting them be a goofy teen that should be acting as a teen. Girls are about boys, some are struggling with school, addictions, pregnancy, and some struggling with their parents. So be a great listener before you are a great talker.
Tips to build rapport:
1.Trust your teen until it is broken.
2.Know your own personal boundaries, and have rules.
3.Hang out together about once a week.
4.Be fun to be with, not their parent.
5.Let them know they can open up and share with you.
Whether your are this teens mentor for a brief period or for life, you will make an impact on them now. This is a chance to change their questionable future to a brighter future. You are a source of hope and light in their confusing world.