Can I talk to you for a minute?
I will never forget this question.
It was posed by one of the camp staff on a Wednesday, the year I turned 12.
It was the year my life was to change for the better. At this point in my pre-teeness, however, I was in a dark, sarcastic, and moody place. I wanted out of this cheery and overly positive environment. All I wanted to do is sulk.
We sat in wooden chairs down by the water. It was a quiet time after lunch.
It was at this moment, that I felt transformed. Someone was actually listening to how I was feeling and not laughing about it. This person had questions and allowed me to answer them in my teen speak, often probing for more, but allowing me to be me.
The first mentor I can remember (and there have been many) that allowed me to take down the wall.
Think back for a second.
Who were your mentors?
Who was that one person who would “have your back” or listen and guide you when you were overwhelmed or needed a nudge?
If you are an adult, you undoubtedly have had mentors in your personal life, in your line of work, or in how you worship. People who make you feel good for being you. They respect you, make you feel worthy, and look at you when you speak.
Is there a young person you may have seen or know, that needs a nudge in the right direction.
Dwayne Johnson, “The Rock” has a video on YouTube : “How a high school coach changed my life.”
Take a look at this when you can.
Then look at all coaches, teachers, community center workers, youth sponsors, and the like.
Their job is much more than punching a time card.
Theirs is the task of more than athletic prowess. It is emotional shaping. It is not a time to play favorites but to understand that all on the team will need to feel part of it. It is watching for the person sitting by themselves when others are engaged in activity.
Parents, you are the first layer of mentorship, take a hard look at how you are shaping your children. Everything you utter, every harsh word, every action, every “maybe later”, every “just sit and play your video games” is a determiner for the future of your child.
Are you allowed to be tired or upset?
Of course! How you deal with it is modeling the same coping skills to your kids.
What you do matters.
Mentorship means giving “time and engaged connection” to a young person who is craving to know if what they are feeling is right or wrong. It is a beacon that shines for kids to follow without threats but with free will.
Do you have a minute?