In our last blog, Maryanne talked about how much life changes as we become parents. Not only do our priorities shift completely and selflessly, but even our spit becomes a cleaning agent!
Of course, not all of us choose to or have a chance to become a parent. But as we move through life, we start to understand that our own future depends on the future of “our” children. We want to create a good world not just for ourselves, but for the future generations as well. Caring for the emotional and physical health of the next generation becomes important, as well as creating a lasting legacy of who we are and what we stand for.
Whether or not you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or simply care for the well-being of the next generation, you can choose to impact the life of a child through mentoring.
Mentoring a child means getting to know them and their life situation and being there for them as a listener and supporter all the way to adulthood. It takes a village to raise a child, and the more trusted adults our kids have in their lives, the richer and fuller their lives will be. Many children also come from difficult family backgrounds and really need someone who is able to be a steady and reliable presence they can trust.
Mentoring can be formal or informal. Informal mentoring happens in everyday situations as you interact with kids in your life. Kids are keen observers, and they will learn a lot about you by observing your actions, your character, how you treat others, what issues are important to you, etc. Allow them to truly see you for who you are and be honest about your faults and struggles too—they will quickly see through any facade.
Formal mentoring is a more focused effort and can happen in many different settings. For example, many of us volunteer our time working for church Sunday schools, youth groups, sports, music or hobby clubs. These settings already have the pre-set expectation that you are there to be mentors through your focused presence and expertise.
Another way to mentor someone is to join an organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America or CASA, where you will be assigned a child who is in a desperate need of a steady listener and mentor. These are kids from difficult life situations which they have a hard time coping with. You can have a tremendous impact on the life of a youth through these programs.
In what way are you already mentoring a child? If you are not mentoring yet, what would you like to do to start?
May we all be blessed by sharing our own legacy with the next generation!