Five stages of mentoring relationship development: Stage 5 – Redefinition

Redefinition is the fifth and final stage of a mentoring relationship between the mentor and mentee.

This series from Michigan State University Extension explores the five stages of relationship development in mentor-mentee matches. Redefinition is the final stage of any formal mentoring relationship. This is the time where the mentor and mentee, with the support of parents and program staff, determine what is next for the match. There are a variety of options. The best option is the one that both the mentor and mentee can commit to. What are the choices?

  • Complete closure. When either or both parties do not want to have future contact or the parent is not in support of future contact, complete closure is the best option. On occasion, one party wants to stay in touch and the other doesn’t. As difficult as it is to convey this is the end, it is worse to pretend there will be ongoing communication if you are certain there will not be.
  • Continuation of the match. Some programs allow matches to recommit for a second year. This is a good option if the young person still meets the program requirements and there are additional goals to be met. If this is the case and all invested parties are in support of a recommitment, it is important to discuss any desired changes. Perhaps the young person will take the lead in communication in year two or visit frequency or duration will be adjusted. Changes do not need to be made, but this is a good time to determine if there are any that would be beneficial.
  • Continuing the relationship outside of the program. Sometimes a mentor and mentee develop a strong relationship that transcends the program. If the mentor is interested in maintaining contact and the mentee and parent are in agreement, this can be an ideal situation. The primary goal of mentoring programs is to provide youth with additional positive relationships with adults. When matches continue in “real life,” the young person benefits from the ongoing support and friendship. When this occurs, all parties should discuss the parameters of the new relationship. The mentoring program likely required weekly meetings. This new stage of the relationship might look different – in real life, we often do not get to see our friends weekly and perhaps that isn’t needed in this new version of the friendship.
  • Mentor or mentee rematch. When a match ends, some mentors or mentees will choose to transition to a new match. If you are interested in continuing, talk to program staff about when you will be ready to be matched again. Think about what you learned from the last match and share any preferences for your new match. For instance, perhaps you initially saw yourself as someone who wanted to spend time outside with your mentee, but learned you prefer going out for a meal.

Each party should take time to think about the various options and determine what is right for themselves moving forward. Program staff can help facilitate the conversation and move towards positive closure.

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