by Sherry Hiebert-Keck, Managing Director, Louise Dean Centre
We all need mentors in our lives – to inspire us, motivate us and teach us valuable life-lessons. For young people who are vulnerable to depression, bullying, substance abuse or violence, having a mentor can mean the difference between hardship and living a healthy, fulfilled life.
The key to a successful mentorship experience is the participation of parents. According to the latest research on best practices, a hands-on approach by parents is required – right from the initial pairing between mentor/mentee, through to building on the learnings, once the mentorship program is over.
Whether it’s through home visits or discussions with program staff, parents set the stage for success. As experts in their child’s life, parents share valuable insights about their child’s strengths and challenges, help set goals, monitor progress and, of course, celebrate their accomplishments. Mentors work with the child to support them in reaching their goals – everything from building self-esteem and communication skills – to transitioning into adulthood. In essence, the mentor is a positive role model that is enhanced by the efforts of the parents – a combination that can yield very impressive results:
- Increased high school graduation rates
- Lower high school dropout rates
- Healthier relationships and lifestyle choices
- Better attitude about school
- Higher educational aspirations
- Enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence
- Improved behavior at home and at school
- Stronger relationships with parents, teachers and peers
- Improved interpersonal skills
- Decreased likelihood of initiating drug and alcohol use (Cavell, T., DuBois, D., Karcher, M., Keller, T., & Rhodes, J. (2009). Strengthening mentoring opportunities for at-risk youth.)
For information on Catholic Family Service mentoring programs visit www.cfs-ab.org.