To act as a mentor in a structured setting where you’re supported and encouraged is quite an amazing experience. I think it carries different complexities for those who have kids of their own and those who have never had children before. While we’re not serving as parents in our role as mentors, we are likely to interact with our mentees based on our own experiences. As someone who is not yet a parent, I continuously consider how I want to respond to information my mentee shares with me, how I can hold her stuff safely and offer feedback that is useful, while resisting the urge to snap back with a reaction. I find myself reflecting on my own childhood and what I valued in my parents’ way of raising me and what I would have wished to receive that was different.
The age gap is another factor that affects the relationship between mentor and mentee. I’m only 12 years older than my mentee. Is being closer in age easier or harder? I don’t know. I think it helps that I can identify with many of the experiences she’s going through. However, a larger age gap provides mentors with the opportunity to engage with a generation they may feel detached from. It’s vital that we stay aware of the current issues that youth face. It’s too easy for adults to remain naïve about what young people get up to. Awareness doesn’t mean you must approve of your mentee’s actions, but it does mean you can support them in whatever they are feeling. This week, I encourage us all to work on hearing our mentees without reacting or judging. See how they respond and see how it makes you feel.
Thanks for reading,