Teenagers give lots of mixed messages, and often it seems like the last person they want to talk to is a parent.
Often it seems they want nothing to do with any adults, but if you look around, you may notice there are one or more adults they actually do connect really well with. Sometimes all it takes is that one person they will let in.
Look around. Where does your teen go that she’s interacting with adults that it seems like she respects? The possibilities are many: Teachers, neighbors, a grandparent (or “adopted” grandparent), youth leaders, teachers, scout leaders or coaches.
Even if it seems like your kid doesn’t respect you, chances are there are adults in his vicinity whom he does show respect for.
I know I feel that if my kid isn’t going to talk to one of us, then I’d rather they talked to another adult than go to their friends. (We all know what fabulous advice friends can offer.)
If your son or daughter has an adult they connect with who is in tune with what they’re really like, this is a good person to bring your concerns to. Ask him or her to spend some time mentoring him. There are some things you need to keep in mind though.
5 Tips for Seeking a Mentor
1. Find someone with interests in common as your child.
Whether he or she is into cooking, archery, tinkering around with cars, rock climbing, or scrapbooking, seek someone who enjoys and is good at the same things.
2. The mentor needs to have a genuine interest in your teen.
It’s amazing how in tune teenagers are to false motives. This means you’ll be wasting their time and possibly causing more damage to your relationship.
3. Set reasonable expectations.
The mentor isn’t taking over a parenting role, but rather just connecting with your child and help to influence them positively. Whether they “hang out” once a week or once a month, be sure you and the mentor are on the same page.
4. Don’t ask what they talk about.
Ask the mentor to notify you only if there is an emergent, immediate situation (threats of suicide or an abusive boyfriend, for example). Also don’t ask your teen what they talk about. Nothing makes him feel more set up than when you question him.
5. Pray for their time together.
Pray that God would speak through your teen’s mentor.
A mentor is someone who can be helpful when you have a teen who is floundering and isn’t really finding a comfortable place to “be”. Maybe she has interests that her peers don’t or maybe she needs to see an adult who is or does what she wants to do.
A mentor can make a tremendous difference in a life.
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