The important role that parents play in mentoring relationships

Posted owlby Kea Norrell-Aitch, Michigan State University Extension

Most mentoring programs require adult mentors and youth mentees to spend a significant amount of time together. This one-on-one time is needed to form a trusting relationship and to become familiar with each other. Michigan State University Extension suggests parents be included in the match process to feel comfortable with the mentoring relationship.

Before mentoring matches are created, expectations should be discussed and clearly outlined. Include parents in the mentoring intake process to ensure that they understand and value the role that they play in addition to what is expected and appropriate of the mentor. Mentoring contracts are helpful in guiding a conversation around expectations. The contract should be very specific and inclusive that clearly describes guidelines and limitations. After signing, the mentor, parent and youth agree to all terms of the mentoring match. If everyone is on the same page (mentor, parent and youth) the match will have a better chance at success and the parent will tend to be more supportive.

As youth develop closer relationships with their mentors, it is important that parents embrace their role in the mentoring relationship. This can be done by including the parent in identifying mentoring goals and activities. Parents can also share in milestones and success stories. If there is ever a breakdown in communication or expectations change then there is a chance that parents will become less supportive. They may even feel like their involvement is no longer needed or valued. The ultimate goal is to provide the mentee with positive adult role models and substantial support in various areas of their development. Parents and mentors can work together as a team to assist the youth in all areas of their lives.

Communication is one of the most important things to consider when incorporating multiple individuals for a common goal. Mentors must communicate with parents and vice versa to provide the mentee with the best possible mentoring experience.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension.