Roland Warren, President of the National Fatherhood Initiative - Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring

Roland Warren, President of the National Fatherhood Initiative

Roland Warren, President of the National Fatherhood Initiative - Chronicle of Evidence-Based MentoringQ. Do you think that it’s a good idea for mentoring programs match young male mentees with female mentors?

A. This is not a positive trend because it fails to strengthen the mentoring field by addressing the lack of male mentors. This solution is like running around a weak backhand in tennis. Rather than addressing the lack of male mentors head on, this solution simply runs around the fact that we don’t have enough male mentors by relying on available female mentors. We should instead develop innovative approaches to recruit more men to become mentors, thus strengthening the weak backhand of the mentoring field. Moreover, it’s unfair to continually ask women to do the heavy lifting of mentoring.

Double Duty Dad® is the strong backhand needed by the mentoring field. This approach to mentoring, developed by National Fatherhood Initiative®, is premised on the notion that we have never delivered a specific call to our nation’s fathers to become mentors to our nation’s fatherless. One of the primary reasons for the dearth of male mentors is that most “marketing messages” around mentoring appeal to women, with a focus on “building relationships.” That focus doesn’t appeal as readily to men who are focused on taking action with others, which eventually builds strong relationships. In other words, today’s mentoring messages are the wrong call to action for men.

The good news is that there are millions of good fathers out there who have all of the skills needed to be great mentors, but who have never been mobilized and inspired to become mentors in part because the way we call people to mentor doesn’t appeal to them. What is needed to attract dads is an approach that inspires them to mentor children within their own circle of influence—such as their extended families, neighborhoods, children’s sports teams, and places of worship—and that emphasizes small steps and activity-based mentoring.

This approach will develop a well-rounded and, ultimately, more successful and sustainable approach to mentoring added to the many great women who step up to mentor children. It would be a positive trend because we not only want to teach boys how to become good men; we want to teach them how to become good fathers. A male mentor for a young man is both a mentor and a model for what that boy should aspire to be. A dad has the unique ability to show a young boy that two of the most appropriate and helpful roles a man can fulfill in society are to be responsible fathers and to mentor needy children.