How do I do this Mom Thing? Establishing a Mentorship
- Friday, August 06, 2004
"No one is a light unto themselves, not even the sun."
~ Antonio Porchia, author
Have you ever met a person and thought, "I want to be like that when I grow up"? When I first became a mother, I looked to a woman named Cheryl as an example. She was caring and spoke to her children with affection. She smiled often and didn't get upset easily.
Everyone needs someone to look up to. I've had women in my life whom I esteemed as mentors -- whether they know it or not. Mentoring is a fancy word for "example." It's a person who's hands-on in your life and sets an example.
There are various places to find mentors. Some moms find them when they join play groups or support groups. Others look in places of worship to find women of common interests or cultural backgrounds.
A mentor is someone who has been where you are going. She's faced the same struggles, experienced the same joys, and usually has good advice.
Mentoring is not a new concept. Even the Bible talks about this type of relationship. Titus 2:4-5 (Message) says, "By looking at [older women], the younger women will know how to love their husband and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives."
Many times mentoring also moves past the outward stuff and unites hearts. And while it may seem like the younger mother reaps all the benefits, older mentors greatly enjoy the relationship too. So when you spot someone who may fit the role, don't be afraid to ask her to be your mentor. Offer to have her over for a soda and use the opportunity to listen to her stories and enjoy her company. She'll appreciate getting to know you in an intimate way and will cherish the joy of helping, as perhaps she was once helped.
One of the best things to learn from a mentor is how to grow your character.
"I'm always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it," said the artist Pablo Picasso. This applies to character qualities such as patience, gentleness, and consideration too.
When you want to spruce up your body, you can excercise, get a new haircut, or put on makeup. Yet there's no foundation or mascara to make the inside shine. (Oh, how I wish there were!)
In my early parenting years, there were days when I couldn't tell if I was making any progress in my character growth. Especially the days when the money ran out, the baby was sick, or the neighbor was grumpy. It was then that I displayed character I did not want my child to copy.
Inside I wanted to follow the teachings of the Bible. I attempted to treat others as I wished to be treated. I longed to be thankful for all God has given me. Yet my growth reminded me of the game Mother-May-I. I took three baby steps forward and two giant leaps back.
It was helpful to continually look to positive role models and caring mentors for encouragement and inspiration -- knowing if they could do it, with God's help, I could too.
Also, I have another mentor who is always able to provide guidance: Jesus Christ. I can read about his loving interaction with others in the Bible. A good place to start is in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, books named after the men who wrote them. You can't a more perfect role model than Jesus!
Finding a Mentor
"Whatever you are, be a good one."
~ Abraham Lincoln
Have you considered looking for a mentor? A role model? Someone who's done what you dream about doing?
When you look for a female mentor, ask yourself the following questions:
• Who do I admire? Do I have an older friend, relative, or perhaps a leader in a Teen MOPS group that I'd enjoy spending more time with?
• Does this person have time to spend with me?
• What can this person teach me about life? Parenting? Following dreams? Will this person encourage my growth?
• Is this person a healthy role model? Is she honest? Truthful? Accepting? Supportive?
• Does this person take time to listen to my concerns? Can I open up to this person? Can this person be trusted with my confidence?
If you find someone, here are steps to setting up a mentoring relationship:
• Ask if she'd be interested in becoming a mentor.
• State what you're looking for.
• Take time to interact, to listen, and to care.
• Give as well as receive.
Once you find someone to build a relationship with, together you can decide on the specifics of your time together. It's up to each individual mentoring relationship to consider their needs and goals.
• How often do you want to meet?
• What types of things would each of you like to discuss?
• What level of commitment are you willing to give?
• What will you do when you meet? Talk and share feelings, hopes, and dreams? Go through a book together? Pray?
Excerpted from Life Interrupted: The Scoop On Being a Young Mom © 2004 by Tricia Goyer. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishers. All rights reserved. For copies of the book visit www.zondervan.com.
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