This January doesn’t just mark a new year and a new decade.
It’s also National Mentoring Month!
And I want to share one young lady’s story to prove how much caring adults like you are needed to mentor our youth.
The reality is this: Far too many teen girls don’t have positive home situations.
I meet them all the time!
Unfortunately, they don’t have loving and supportive parents such as yourself.
And it breaks my heart when I don’t have the ability to improve their situations or the capacity to mentor them.
Which is exactly what happened when I met a young lady from one of my classes last March.
During our conversation after class, I discovered she had been sexually active with 3 guys in the past 4 months, simply because she was bored and lonely.
She said she spent most of her time alone because she was an only child and didn’t have a positive relationship with her mother.
Even though she spent time in a hospital due to a suicide attempt, she said she didn’t really want to die.
She just wanted to get her mom’s attention.
When I asked if her relationship with her mom improved when she got out of the hospital, she said it didn’t and her mom didn’t seem to care.
Here’s an excerpt of the letter the young lady wrote me…
“This letter is for both me and you so we can both figure out why I am the way I am. When you first came to our class, in a weird way, I felt like you were sent here just for me. Being that I was already in a world of trouble for having sex, and honestly, I’ve been looking for some sort of guidance with myself for a long time…I feel like you were the first person who told me I was worth something and meant it in a while. The first person who didn’t shame or judge me for my very poor choices.
I actually last night realized a few things about myself and disposition. I believe I have so much sex with so many people to feel needed and wanted. I guess I want to feel desirable. I don’t believe it’s the sex so much, but the sexual attention, which isn’t good, but it makes me feel good. I’m starting to realize a lot through writing this. Sex makes me feel good at something because I’m really not good at anything but that. They all enjoy me and still talk to me, which in a weird way makes me needed. And it feels good to be needed…
Thank you so much! You’ve literally helped me more than you know. I know we’re not supposed to put our name on these letters, but I’d like for you to mentor me. You can contact me at ________, if possible.”
When a “Castaway” Cries Out
Students ask me ALL the time if I will mentor them and I must decline because I simply don’t have the bandwidth to handle any more mentees.
But there was something about the conversation I had with this young lady after class and the letter she wrote that tugged at my heart strings.
So, I reached out to her multiple times and didn’t get a response.
I even tried to reach out to her about coming to my 7 Secrets LIVEevent last summer.
Over time, I often wondered what happened with her since we spoke last March.
Last week, I finally heard from her.
She sent a VERY long email that broke my heart as she described what she has been through since we last spoke.
“Hey, so I’ve been wanting to write you for a while now, and I’m not too sure if this is the correct e-mail, but I figured I’d give it a shot. You may not even remember me, but honestly, I don’t think I could forget you, and what you spoke about & the regret I feel from not listening.
Unfortunately, I am not one of your success stories, due to my own stupid mistakes. I, probably like many other people, didn’t think any of the things you spoke about could happen to me, but I was in for a rude awakening when all of it hit me.
In the summer, I didn’t really have too much to do…and a lot was going on, breaking down my confidence. So, what does any young, vulnerable girl that doesn’t know any better do? Have sex with boys who don’t care…so I did just that.
Here are the harsh facts of what my defiance led me to…an STD (which thank God it was only chlamydia), being beat up by an abusive boyfriend, getting pregnant and having a miscarriage, being a prostitute for a brief time, getting called every name in the book from everybody all the time, getting somewhere between 9-11 sexual partners, and ultimately being kicked out [by my mom] and having to move to another state [with my dad]. You even told me to slow down and I’m still only 15. That’s what “not listening” got me.
I’m 15 and honestly since ___________ is 19, I’ve been considering emancipating myself and living with him, and trying for another baby. I think that that’ll probably bring me the most peace.
Thank you so much for all that you do for little cast away girls like me, and if you got to this part, thank you for listening. If you want to use me as an example, please feel free to.
I do plan on listening now, all of this did help me with what I wanted to dedicate my life and time to. Again, thank you so, so, so, so, so, so much, and through this [next] chapter in my life, I promise all your teaching will pay off.
Those two days you taught me were more than my mom ever did, that 15 minutes you listened to me were more than my mom has & for that, I am so grateful. Again, thank you so much.”
Answering the Call
The letter was much too long to post in its entirety, but it was enough to have me in tears multiple times while reading it.
I kept thinking that it couldn’t get any worse, only to read something else she had experienced that would cause my mouth to drop.
I responded to her email and told her I’d love to speak with her to help her figure out why she was making such poor choices, and to give her some guidance that would set her up to be successful.
We spoke on the phone for an hour and fifteen minutes and the conversation went extremely well.
But it was the last thing she said that really stood out to me:
“When I come back to Atlanta to live with my mom, would you be willing to have lunch with us? I want my mom to meet you.”
I think her request speaks volumes.
It says to me that she longs for a good relationship with her mom; and maybe she believes if I can help her, I can also help the two of them improve their relationship.
So, if your relationship with your daughter is strained, I hope this gives you hope.
Speaking of hope, I didn’t want to end my call with the young lady without leaving her with some.
Which is why I gave her the assignment to do the following:
- Write down all your positive traits/characteristics.
- Write down all the reasons why you don’t love yourself. (She admitted she didn’t)
- Make a list with three columns. In each column, answer the following questions:
- What was the poor choice?
- What pain was I medicating or void was I trying to fill by making that choice?
- How could I have dealt with the pain or filled the void in a more positive way?
- Write a vision of what you want your life to look like 10-15 years from now.
I told her to send her responses to me when she finishes the assignment and we’d reconnect to discuss them.
Looks like I got myself a new mentee after all, doesn’t it?
And what does this have to do with you?
I’m glad you asked!
Although the details of the young lady’s story may be unique to her, the cycle of medicating pain with poor choices in order to fill a void is something I hear often.
We have a generation of young people in desperate need of love, acceptance, and guidance.
This is my clarion call to all who will listen that our young people need loving, positive mentors.
Will you answer the call?
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 you don’t even have to join 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.
And 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 would 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
Now that’s a call worth answering!
If you’re currently mentoring a young person, what was it that inspired you to answer the call?
And if you have never been a mentor before, what has dissuaded you from answering the call?
No guilt or shame here.
I just want to offer encouragement if you’re on the fence about becoming a mentor.
Believe me, I get it.
But I also get that there’s nothing more rewarding than pouring into the life of a young person who needs to know there’s at least one positive and caring adult in her corner.
And that someone could be you!
P.S. I believe in the powerful impact mentoring can have. Not only in the mentee’s life, but in the mentor’s life as well. Why!? Because I’ve experienced it firsthand. Am I saying that mentoring young people is all rainbows and unicorns? Absolutely not. The truth is, sometimes the seeds you sow fall on shallow ground and never take root. But in my experience, the good outweighs the bad and your mentee will eventually reap a harvest if you keep on sowing. So why not give mentoring a try?
P.P.S. There are far too many teen girls out there who aren’t as fortunate as your daughter. They don’t have loving moms who are intentional about being actively engaged in their lives. Those girls are just waiting for someone like you and friends you know on social media to pour into their lives. So please share this post so we can encourage more would-be mentors to answer the call.