Mentoring Relationships

Susan Jekielek, M.A., Kristin A. Moore, Ph.D., and Elizabeth C. Hair, Ph.D. (2002) have spent a great deal of time studying the effectiveness of mentoring relationships. They have found significant improvement in mentees:

  • Significant reductions in school absence
  • Higher college participation
  • Better school attitudes and behavior
  • Less drug and alcohol use
  • Less likelihood of hitting others
  • More positive attitudes toward their elders and toward helping
  • Improved parental relationships and support from peers

Jekielek and others found that higher-quality mentoring relationships were built upon structure and planning. Success was much more likely when there was an effort to provide pre- and post-match training and support with some direct supervision of the matched relationship. It was also important for the mentor/mentee interests to be considered during the matching process because shared social activities where critical to building trust.

couch reading sm 300x196 Mentoring RelationshipsEffective mentors should be willing to commit to a long-term relationship and make regular contact with their mentee, as well as participate in ongoing training and communication with program directors. Through an in-depth, nine-month study, Morrows and Style (1995) identified two main types of mentoring relationships and the outcomes they produce. “Developmental” volunteers were adult mentors who held expectations that varied over time in relation to their perception of the needs of the youth. In the beginning, the mentors devoted themselves to establishing a strong connection with the youth. They felt satisfied with their mentee’s progress and with the relationship overall; when doubts arose, they were more likely to consult caseworkers for reassurance or advice. The youth in these relationships reported feeling a considerable sense of support from their adult friend. Further, many of the youth in developmental relationships demonstrated a pattern of seeking help independently and voluntarily divulged difficulties in their school or personal lives, allowing the volunteer to provide guidance and advice.

Prescriptive” volunteers viewed their own goals for the match (usually these are “good” goals, e.g., academic achievement) as primary rather than the youth’s. Some prescriptive volunteers required the youth to take equal responsibility for maintaining the relationship and for providing feedback about its meaning. The prescriptive volunteers ultimately felt frustrated. The youth were similarly frustrated, dissatisfied with the relationship, and far less likely to regard their mentor as a source of consistent support. Often, these prescriptive relationships developed growing tension, which led, at least in part, to their frequent demise. Two-thirds of the prescriptive matches no longer met nine months after the first study interview, whereas only about ten percent of the developmental relationships had ended.

Grossman and Rhodes found that matches involving volunteer married persons 26-30 years old, were 86 percent more likely to terminate their relationship each month compared with matches with 18-25 year old volunteers, and far more likely than non-married 26-30 year olds (who were less likely to terminate relationships compared with 18-25 year old volunteers). At Shelterwood, we have also found that single mentors between the ages of 21 – 27 are incredibly committed to the task of mentoring and are less likely than all other age groups to end their relationship with students. While, society has deemed this age group as selfish and uncommitted, at our Academy we have found our mentors to be incredibly committed and trustworthy. They demonstrate an eagerness to learn and share their lives with younger students. This age group tends to be more open to supervision and training than older volunteers and they have the disposable time necessary to invest deeply into the lives of their mentees.

Good quality mentorship programs like Shelterwood use structure and planning to facilitate high levels of mentor-mentee interaction. In her research, Jekielek has found that those mentors who received more hours of training had longer-lasting matches. At Shelterwood, training and supervision is an ongoing part of our program as we bring teens into relationship with recent college graduates. This type of intensive mentor care has been part of the Shelterwood experience for over thirty-four years and often continues long after our students have graduated from our school. Avenues such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have allowed us to maintain a significant level of investment, even if the distance between the mentor and mentee expands over time.

Does My Teen Need Help?

Teen Assessment

Read the list of 30 questions below to determine if your teen needs help.  This teen assessment is designed to be a first step and it might be critical for you to discuss the results with a therapist. Please refer to the scoring guide below to see which options are most suitable for your child, based upon the total number of questions that you checked as positive.

1. Does your teen struggle with basic family rules and expectations?
2. Has your teen ever been suspended, expelled, truant or had a drop in school grades?
3. Has your teen ever been verbally abusive?
4. In your opinion, does your teen associate with a bad peer group?
5. Has your teen lost interest in former productive activities, such as hobbies and sports?
6. Do you have difficulty getting your teen to do simple household chores or homework without a major fight?
7. Has your teen had problems with the law?
8. Do you find yourself picking your words carefully when speaking to your teen so as not to elicit a verbal attack or rage from them?
9. Are you worried that your teen may not finish high school?
10. Does your teen, at times, seem depressed and/or withdrawn?
11. Is your teen’s appearance or personal hygiene outside your family standards?
12. Has your teen ever displayed violent behavior?
13. Is your teen manipulative or deceitful?
14. Does your teen seem to lack motivation?
15. Do you suspect that your teen is telling lies or has been dishonest with you?
16. Are you concerned that your teen may be sexually promiscuous?
17. Have you seen any evidence of suicidal thoughts, such as statements that your teen wanted to be dead, etc?
18. Do you suspect that you have had money or other valuables missing from your home?
19. Are you concerned that your teen’s behavior is a threat to his safety and well-being?
20. Does your teen seem to lack self-esteem and self-worth?
21. Do you have a lack of trust with your teen?
22. Is your teen angry or displaying temper outbursts?
23. Does your teen have problems with authority?
24. Does your teen engage in activities you don’t approve of?
25. Do you think your teen is using or experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol?
26. Are you concerned about your teen’s well-being and future?
27. Does your teen seem to be in constant opposition to your family values?
28. No matter what rules and consequences are established, does your teen defy them?
29. Are you exhausted and worn out from your teen’s defiant or destructive behaviors and choices?
30. When dealing with your teen, do you often feel that you are powerless?

Your Total Score is: _______

18+ Checks = HIGH RISK!
– Get help! – Find a residential facility that you feel comfortable with.

9-17 Checks = BORDERLINE RISK

– The problems may be resolved by tightening up the Family Rules and Structure. However, a residential treatment facility may need to be considered if things don’t improve or if the situation worsens.

Up to 8 Checks = MODERATE RISK
– Tighten up family rules and be consistent with your monitoring. It is critical that you follow through. When you say something will happen, your teen must see it happen!

parents at computer 300x169 Does My Teen Need Help?Please call if you have any questions regarding this teen assessment.  We would love to visit with you and discuss these questions in greater depth if you have concerns.  (800) 584 5005

Why are our boys unmotivated & underachieving?

In Boys adrift: five factors driving the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men, the author attempts to answer the question, “what is going on with American boys?”  He begins by defining the problem as an “epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men.”  After defining the problem he clearly outlines the five factors that he believes to be driving it.

1.  Changes in school.  Sax argues that the acceleration of kindergarten curriculum, the shift from experiential learning to book learning, and the absence of competition in the classroom make coed public schools an unfriendly environment for many boys.

2.  Video games.  He sights the feeling of control over their environment, decreased risk in social interaction, and a lack of opportunity for “real world” experiences as reasons why video games lead to decreased motivation in boys.  He offers advice on a balanced approach to video games that parents can implement in their homes.

3.  Medications for ADHD.  Sax described a study in which, “the stimulant medications appear to exert their harmful effects by damaging an area in the developing brain called the nucleus accumbens”.  The point of this chapter is summarized with this quote, “boys are being put on these medications to fit the boy to the school.  I’ve come to believe that we should not medicate boys so they fit the school; we should change the school to fit the boy.”

4.  Endocrine disruptors.  Dr. Sax provides an in depth discussion of how chemicals found in plastic bottles, pacifiers, toys and many other products seem to be causing a, “slowing and or warping of boys’ sexual development.”  This topic has garnered many headlines lately and this chapter is helpful in understanding the concerns and what precautions parents can take.

5.  The lack of positive male role models.  Behavior is not hardwired. It has to be taught. Sax explains how in many cultures men “take great care in managing this transition to adulthood.”  He also describes how American culture neglects this transition and has even derided the image of manhood.  He offers ways in which single moms, parenting teams, and communities can surround their boys with positive images of manhood.

Find out why you parent like your parents

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win” -1 Cor. 9:24

Muscle memory is the ability of our muscles to remember. When a movement is repeated over time, muscle memory is created for that task allowing it to be repeated without conscious effort. It’s a great thing for athletics and has led to the concept of “practice” where we repeat a certain activity so as to be repeated come game time. That’s what the coach so eloquently meant when he said (or yelled), “we’re going to keep running that play ‘till you knuckle-heads get it right!” We learn early as athletes to be focused, intense and competitive. That works well for sports but sometimes not so well in parenting.

245 200x300 Find out why you parent like your parentsYears ago, some friends asked me to come play soccer with them. There was a group of adults and teens that played soccer every Sunday afternoon at the local park. Lots of fun, but the competitive soccer world is not “fun.” Soccer is a super competitive, intense sport with no time outs, few goals, and no pads (unless you count shin guards, which weren’t required when I played). I was hesitant to go play. I’d played for so many years and it just seemed odd to go, though I’m not sure why. But I decided to play. It really was fun, until the second half. One of the teenagers on the other team was making a run down the field and my “muscle memory” kicked in. I ran him down and made a good “legal” tackle to prevent a goal. But I did not prevent embarrassment. The teen was ticked and, once I came out of my intense daze, I must have apologized a million times. I should not have made that hard play on him. This was just a fun game. But something “unconscious” kicked in. I, in essence, lost control and a billion hours of practice kicked in.

Muscle memory in parenting is a combination of past experience, including how we were raised by our parents and of how we parent day-to-day. How often do you catch yourself reacting the same way your parents reacted towards you? And you swore you wouldn’t be like your parents!

Parenting really can be fun. It doesn’t have to be a super intense exercise of winning at all costs. It seems to be about perspective. Your son calls and has a flat tire north of town. He needs your help. You have a choice. You could get grouchy and frustrated, drive to where he is, and be impatient and irritable because your dad was like that. The world is like that. After all, you’re missing your favorite show on the Weather Channel! Or, you can say a quick prayer, take a deep breath and take this as an opportunity to love your son.

Be sure you’re repeating those attitudes and values in your life that are worth repeating. Silver Dollar City in Branson has, as it’s mission statement, “we are creating memories worth repeating.” Make that your motto as a parent, to create a parenting style worth repeating. Certainly, model all the wonderful ways your parents raised you, but be willing to break the mold in weak areas.

Pray for open eyes and an open heart to needed change and improvement in parenting. It doesn’t have to be as intense as a soccer match. There are time outs and the victory is a growing relationship with your son or daughter. It’s not always easy, but the muscle memory of loving is always the best goal.