Parents may envy the mentoring relationship

Most mentoring programs require mentors and youth to spend a significant amount of time together resulting in parents possibly feeling left out or envious.

Relationship building is one of the most significant characteristics to consider in a mentoring match. In order to develop a relationship, Michigan State University Extension suggests mentoring matches spend a lot of quality time together. This time can be spent around various interests/activities and amount to several hours a week. As the mentoring relationship progresses then trust is usually developed. Not only should the youth trust the adult mentor but the parent should have a certain amount of trust in the mentor too. The parent is entrusting their child to the mentors care.

As the mentoring relationship grows and the match becomes closer, parents may begin to see a change in their child. Mentees can get excited about having fun and experiencing new things with their mentors. Mentors are charged with exposing youth to new activities and positive ways of thinking. Some of these experiences may cost money or require knowledge that parents may or may not have. This does not challenge parents’ practices, especially if the parents have different mindsets. It is important for case managers or match specialist to communicate to parents and the match that mentors are an asset and not there to contradict any home life practices (if they are different than the mentors).

Since positive mentoring relationships will prosper, parents may become envious of the relationship or what the mentor can offer to the mentee. Parents who envy the mentoring relationship will be more prone to purposely or unconsciously sabotage the mentor or the relationship. There are many examples of ways that parents can try to sabotage a mentoring relationship:

  • A parent speaking bad about a mentor to the child
  • A parenting telling the child that he cannot go out with their mentor as a form of punishment
  • A parent all of a sudden requiring their child to babysit younger siblings during the arranged mentoring outing times.

This is why a match meeting and or a mentoring contract are so important to specify program and family expectations to give the match the best chance for success. Roles and expectations should be discussed and established during the initial match meeting and through the Match Contract that all parties (mentor, mentee and parent) sign at the beginning of a match. Communication is also very important to ensure that the mentor and parent understand their roles in the mentoring match. This can prevent the parents from envying the relationship. Parents need to understand that the mentor in no way replaces them in their child’s life, but is an added role model and friend.

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