By mentoring, you are willing to give your time, be a consistent person who can offer advice and support, share your life experiences and help mentees navigate challenges. Although the purpose of mentoring is to make a positive, long-lasting impression on mentees, often times these effects are experienced by many mentors themselves.
Welcome to our Blog! We post weekly articles written on a variety of topics from a variety of people, including our staff, volunteers, community members, and our parents and youth. The Voices of our Blog are opinion pieces, reflecting the diverse experiences and viewpoints of our community. These articles are not meant to represent the views of everyone at FCNI, our Board of Directors and staff, or present a definitive policy statement, but are designed to be informative and thought-provoking.
Being a mentor to anyone is not easy but being a mentor to a child or youth who’ve experienced trauma and/or instability, can be especially difficult. Fulfilling this important role for a child or youth who is healing from various hurts such as neglect, abuse or unmet mental health needs takes a lot of patience, commitment, empathy, good humor, compassion, creativity and, last but not least, time. Is it any wonder that we as a nation dedicate an entire month to celebrate the role of mentoring and those who choose to mentor?
As many of you know, I am passionate about gardening; probably a little OCD in that regard. I love gardening because it is cyclic, dynamic and ever-changing. Each season brings something new and delightful. I just spent several days pruning our 12 fruit trees. Each tree is like a sculpture to me, needing to be shaped and formed in order to create a new crop of delicious fruit. And, each one will be different from what it was the year prior. Each tree will have a “New Year” unique to itself. All of nature is this way–our lives are this way!
I get irritated when I hear the word "broken" used to describe kids and families who are struggling. Although I hear it less often than I once did--hopefully this indicates that people are becoming more informed--I still hear it used to describe individuals in our world who have behavioral challenges, difficulty coping, poor family dynamics, troubles in their relationships with others, and/or are just suffering with their overall life functions.
I started working with an 8-year-old Diego* and his family to address some of his more difficult behaviors, including his anger, defiance and aggression towards others. He frequently yelled at his parents and could become physical with the kids at school. When I started working with him in his home, one minute we would be playing basketball and laughing, and then the next minute Diego would be throwing gravel in his sibling’s face after she accidentally bumped into him. As a result, my time with him often felt like I was walking around a minefield.