Editors Blog

Mentoring in the context of inequality, injustice, and a global pandemic

By Jean Rhodes When asked how he felt about the timing of his forthcoming movie, comedian and commentator Jon Stewart replied “it’s like showing up to a plane crash with a chocolate bar. There’s tragedy everywhere, and you’re like, ‘‘Uh, does anybody want chocolate?’’ It feels ridiculous. But what doesn’t feel ridiculous is to continue […]

Older and Wiser: New ideas for mentoring in the 21st Century

By Jean Rhodes Apologies for this bit of shameless self-promotion but my new book on youth mentoring, Older and Wiser: New ideas for Youth Mentoring (Harvard University Press) is now available for pre-order (out in August). This book is a synthesis and analysis of the research on youth mentoring, a topic to which I have […]

Now is the time to offer solidarity and support to young people of color

by Jean Rhodes and Cherrelle Jones (clinical psychology doctoral student, UMass Boston) As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on and thousands of protestors gather in the streets day after day, we are viscerally witnessing the many ways that racism, and other systems of oppression, negatively impact the lives, the health, and the mental health of racial […]

Harnessing the Big Three: Positive youth development during the “leisure paradox”

By Jean Rhodes In a recent issue of the Journal of Youth Development, researchers describe the leisure paradox: Just as social distancing and the end of the school year have left young people with more free time than ever, there has been an abrupt halt to the summer camps, sports leagues, and other leisure activities […]

All the tech in the world: School closures and the loss of natural mentoring

  “Ultimately you can have all the tech in the world, but really great learning is a human endeavor. It’s about the teacher and student relationship.” Todd Rose, Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-founder of Populace   By Jean Rhodes In addition to lost learning opportunities during COVID-19, many students are also losing vital […]

“It’s not your job to worry” and other helpful advice for stressed kids

by Jean Rhodes COVID-19 has deeply affected the lives of children, many of whom are struggling to understand what is happening in their families and communities. They may be grieving losses, missing friends, worried about loved ones, and struggling to hold it together.  And, just when emotional support is most needed, school closings have cut […]

Want to double your effects? Hopeful lessons from a new meta-analysis

By Jean Rhodes and Kirsten Christensen In a recent study of nearly 2,000 mentors from thirty nationally representative youth mentoring programs operating across the United States, mentors were asked how they spent time with their mentees (Jarjoura et al., 2018). The responses reflected a “non-specific”  approach that emphasized friendship and broad (as opposed to more […]

The kids aren’t all right: Why mentees will be disproportionately affected by the pandemic

By Jean Rhodes Although COVID-19 appears to spare children from the most serious health problems, marginalized youth are likely to bear the heaviest burdens of trauma and economic fallout. This has serious implications for mentoring programs, which often serve particularly high risk youth. For example, an analysis of the two million young people aged six […]

Social distancing does not mean emotional distancing: Providing comfort during these trying times

By Jean Rhodes How should parents, mentors, and other caring adults talk to children and adolescents about the growing COVID-19 pandemic? As a mentor, it is certainly appropriate to acknowledge some level concern, and to provide age-appropriate, accurate information that encourages actions that reduce the risk of exposure. But, if children see adults as overly […]

Rule #1: Don’t minimize the importance of caregivers in mentoring relationships

by Jean Rhodes Mentoring programs have not always appreciated the vitally important, positive role of caregivers in the success of mentor-youth relationships. In a large, multisite study, researchers found that staff and mentors often viewed mentees’ parents and communities primarily as “negative influences” (Lakind & Eddy, 2015). Such beliefs have a long legacy in youth […]