Posts

Today’s special: Friendship, with a side of purpose and direction

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction. John F. Kennedy by Jean Rhodes Although most youth interventions are developed in response to particular needs or goals, mentoring programs were conceived more broadly as an extension of informal helping relationships. For nearly a century, most volunteer mentors were tasked simply with building friendships […]

From “out of the park” mentoring relationships to consistent, evidence-based approaches

by Jean Rhodes For years, I was stubbornly convinced that formal mentoring programs should focus mostly on creating and maintaining deep, emotional bonds. I saw attempts to scale back on relationship length and strength, or to rely on curricula, as existential threats to the field–destined to reduce already modest effects. But, evaluations and meta-analyses of […]

Complicated lives, complicated excuses

by Jean Rhodes I maintain an email file of the student excuses I’ve received in my 20 years as a professor at UMass Boston. Some are predictable for college students, “I spilled coke on my computer and it turned off and won’t come back on,” or “This is embarrassing but I was several pages into […]

What do Americans think (and do) about mentoring?: Important new report sheds light

by Jean Rhodes and Matthew Hagler With the release of a comprehensive new report on the scope of both structured and informal mentoring, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership has provided the field with important new data about the scope of mentoring in the United States. This report advances our understanding in several important ways. First, […]

Shoulda. coulda. woulda: What listening to Joe Durlak might have done

by Jean Rhodes In 1979, a young psychologist named Joe Durlak published a controversial study in Psychological Bulletin that sent ripples through the helping professions. What Durlak sought to do was to combine all published studies that had compared the outcomes of experienced psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers with those of paraprofessionals (i.e., nonexpert, minimally […]

New study shows lifelong influence of mentors: But there’s a catch

 by Jean E. Rhodes It almost goes without saying that natural mentors can be enormously influential– from early childhood through adolescence and early adulthood (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000; Lerner & Theocas, 2006; Erickson et al., 2015). But, because such relationships can not be randomly assigned, it is actually a bit difficult to untangle their causes from […]

The Science is Clear: Separating Families has Long-term Damaging Psychological and Health Consequences for Children, Families, and Communities

Editor’s Note: Given national events, and our field’s commitment to the lives of vulnerable youth, I devote this week’s column to an expert statement by from the Society for Research on Child Development (SRCD) on the effects of separating families. To read the statement by David Shapiro, CEO of MENTOR, on behalf of the National […]

Who exactly was Mentor?: A stunning revelation and some important lessons

by Jean Rhodes Researchers and practitioners often refer to Homer’s Odyssey, when discussing the ancient roots of mentoring. In it Odysseus appoints an old friend, Mentor, to watch over his household and son, Telemachus, in his absence during the Trojan War. By nearly all accounts Mentor was a protective, guiding and supportive figure who acted […]

“Then a miracle occurs:” Why we need a better understanding of youth mentoring

by Jean Rhodes Early in my career, I developed a conceptual model of youth mentoring that, to my surprise, has been a remarkably durable and useful heuristic. It has been applied to formal and natural mentoring relationships and used to explain everything from short-term, goal-focused relationships with classroom volunteers to lifelong bonds with devoted grandparents. […]

What is the “single greatest threat to children’s well-being:” And how can mentoring help?

by Jean Rhodes “The way a problem is defined determines not only what is done about it, but also what is not done—or what apparently need not be done.”   Caplan, N., & Nelson, S. D. (1973). On being useful: The nature and consequences of psychological research on social problems. American Psychologist, 28(3), 199-211. According to data […]