The Power of Mentorship
I was delighted when I contacted the 1Up Single Parent Resource Centre to tentatively enquire about applying to the program as a mentor. The welcome I received, the organization and execution of application procedures, the office facilities and tone, and, especially, the quality and thoroughness of the assessment interview and subsequent follow up were all excellent. Whew! I have had considerable direct and indirect involvement in similar organizations throughout my career. This high praise is unusual in my experience.
With my full knowledge and consent, my first match involved considerable challenges in the lives of “my mum” and her children. This mum faced and continues to face significant personal, familial, and historical obstacles. My role as her older friend, as she slowly learned to trust me, has included active listening, fostering healthy boundaries, normalizing her experience, helping her partialize problems and make specific, manageable plans, and providing practical help ie. cooking, rides and occasional childcare after our first year.
Perhaps one of the most important roles for me as a mentor in this case has been to sensitively and with her permission, confront and challenge some of her problematic behaviour, and then to determine together what has to happen for positive change. Sometimes, and always with permission, this can mean literally walking side by side accompanying her on the first steps to achieve a new goal.
Pointing out the positive can also be powerful. I strive to point out in a genuine and timely manner, her amazing courage, determination and tangible successes in stabilizing her life and parenting her children well. Helping her to believe in her strengths and appreciating why it can be so hard sometimes to do so, is equally important. Being a mentor is often challenging and serious volunteer work. It’s also fun, fulfilling and educational for me.
Christine, a Mentor