I’m sure you’ve heard the common stereotypes about teens—they are disrespectful, lazy, out-of-control, think they know everything, etc. You may have even said some of those things about them. I know I did before I began working with them twelve years ago.
Most adults think we’re just a bunch of idiot kids.
A few years after I started spending time with students in the classroom, something changed. Though I still saw some of the same behaviors I had seen before, their pain became much more glaring than their behavior. So, I stopped judging them and started praying for them. If you knew some of the situations many of them are dealing with at home, you would pray for them daily as well.
But this generation of youth needs more than just our prayers, they need our time!
I’m always curious to know why adults these days are not involved with teens lives anymore. ~High School Student
I can always count on hanging around for 30 minutes to an hour after I finish teaching, to speak to the long line of students who want to have a one-on-one conversation. They are starving for attention and crying out for direction!
I thank you for giving teenagers a chance, because many adults don’t and won’t give us the time of day to help us understand things about life.
It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to figure this thing called “life” out on your own, yet this is what many young people today are forced to do because they are not getting proper guidance from home.
I really, really appreciate all you said. I've always had questions and I didn't know where to turn to receive answers…I wish we could speak again on a one on one basis. I have a lot of questions about life you know.
Where will those teens that don't have positive role models at home end up if some other caring adult doesn’t step in and mentor them? I’m sure we can all think of answers to that question and very few would be positive.
What does this have to do with you?
January has been designated as National Mentoring Month (www.nationalmentoringmonth.org), which means there is a concerted effort during the month of January to increase the number of adults who mentor youth. Based on the cries that I hear from students, I believe every month should be National Mentoring Month.
If you are not mentoring a young person, please consider doing so. You may be the only positive adult some young person has in his/her life.
I have been mentoring youth in some fashion for 25+ years, either through formal mentoring programs or an informal relationship that was developed with a young person in need. It has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. There have been many times when I felt as if my mentees blessed me more than I blessed them.
Wondering where to start?
The most well known mentoring program is Big Brothers Big Sisters and they always have a long waiting list of young people in need of “Bigs.” But your involvement doesn’t even have to be in a formal mentoring program. It could be as simple as spending time with a young person who needs you in your extended family, neighborhood or church. Unfortunately, you won’t have to look far to find a young person who needs you.
What is most important is not “where” you start but “that” you start!
Imagine the difference we would see if every adult would make the time to deposit seeds of greatness into just one young person outside of their immediate family! Those seeds will grow to impact not just the young person, in whose life the seeds were planted, but also their future children, families, communities and eventually the nation.
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little! ~Edmund Burke
Please share below your experiences with mentoring young people to encourage others to join the movement.