Perhaps you have been thinking of becoming a mentor, but you just have that nagging thought that keeps you from picking up the phone or clicking on that website and signing up. Well, maybe you have fallen into one or more of the mentoring myth traps. Let's look at some of the common misconceptions that people often report to us regarding mentoring.
I'm too old.
Mentors can be young or older and still be effective mentors. At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we enroll mentors 18 years old and up. We even have a High School Bigs program, where high school students mentor younger students in a supervised school-based experience. Some of the best opportunities for mentoring can occur after retirement, too. Mentors often say how rewarding mentoring turns out to be for them personally and how much their own life is enriched by the experience.
My kid isn't a troublemaker; they don't need mentoring.
Any child who wants to have fun can benefit from a mentor.
I don't have enough time.
Yes, mentoring takes time, but not really as much as you might think. Fortunately, there are many different types of mentoring and most people will find that at least one will work for them. In its simplest form, mentoring is just involving someone else in your life. In a community-based mentoring program, mentors and youth choose the time of their visits together. During these visits, you can do something together that you were already planning to do - eat dinner, go to the library or the gym or even volunteer for another organization. Matches usually meet for two to four hours per month. School-based mentoring usually involves a one-hour-a-week commitment at the school site.
I have my own flaws, so how can I mentor someone else?
No one is perfect and mentors shouldn't be perfect. Youth need realistic role models. Mentoring is not counseling, life coaching or fixing a person. All that is required of a mentor is to be in someone's corner. Our program specialist supports BBBS mentoring relationships with regular match support to assist our mentors with having the best possible outcomes for the match.
I don't have enough money to mentor.
Mentors do not need to have money to make a difference. In fact, it is low-cost activities that often have the most impact. Mentors can find a variety of free community activities, play a sport or work on an inexpensive craft with their mentees.
I don't have kids. I can't be a mentor.
You do not need to be a parent to make a difference; you just need to enjoy spending time with a young person. Mentors are not supposed to take the place of a parent and have a very different role in the life of a young person than a parent does.
If you are alive and you are open to learn, you can mentor.
Koyote is regional director of the Taos/Colfax County Big Brothers Big Sisters. Big Brothers Big Sisters provides professionally supported, free, one-to-one mentoring for children and youth in Taos and Colfax counties. You can contact us at (575) 770-5751, (575) 779-0003 or at bbbsmountainreigion.org.