What a year it’s been, am I right? While we all anxiously wait to see what 2021 has in store, it’s hard to ignore the impact that 2020, and more specifically COVID-19, has had on our community. Bay Area teens (and teens throughout the world) were especially challenged this past year with at-home learning, isolation from friends, canceled extracurricular activities, and countless unknowns about the future. And while we at JBridge know the impact that mentorship can have on our youth, it’s essential that, now more than ever, parents and community leaders alike also understand the value of providing extra support for our youth.
Here are a few reasons that helping teens find a quality adult mentor can transform their sense of confidence, fulfillment and focus in these difficult times.
1. Mentors create a space centered around listening and providing support
Mentors can provide a listening ear and a space solely focused on your teen. As life somehow feels even busier than it did before COVID, teens can benefit from uninterrupted, focused time and space to share challenges, celebrate milestones, and connect with an individual willing to validate experiences and offer guidance.
2. Mentors provide guidance to help your teen think through next steps
The teenage years place a lot of pressure on young people to think about the future. High schoolers spend countless hours agonizing over choosing the “right” gap year program, attending the perfect college or trade school, applying for that career-advancing job or internship, or considering their long-term professional paths. For Jewish teens of color, these decisions are further compounded by the ongoing racial injustices in our society, and how they interact with future planning.
An adult mentor is there to talk through these important life choices,and reinforce a teen’s intuition and decision-making skills. Mentors can share experiences from their own life, and offer perspectives reflective of the time they had during and after their own years in high school.
3. Mentors provide an outside perspective
Teens are hard-wired to test boundaries and pull away from their parents. While this can be a painful and challenging truth, an adult mentor who is not living day-to-day with your child is well-positioned to share truths and lessons learned.. Often, advice that would be met with resistance when supplied by a parent lands differently when suggested from a neutral party.
4. Mentor/mentee relationships are mutually beneficial
A teen asking adults to be their mentor out of respect and appreciation for their input is one of the most flattering gifts someone can receive. And 9 times out of 10, they’ll say yes! Just as your teen will grow from working with a mentor, the mentor will learn, develop, and invest in the relationship as well. Authentic mentorship connections can span for years, and can also serve to open unexpected doors down the line for both mentor and mentee.
5. Having an extra adult who cares deeply about your child is a priceless gift
Above all, true mentors are invested in your teen’s growth and success. They want to know how your child is doing, are there to support them through challenges and feel genuinely excited to celebrate your teen’s triumphs. Invested mentors have a pulse on what’s happening in your teen’s life and a sixth sense as to when your teen needs additional guidance. As your teen builds their tribe, it’s wonderful to know they have the benefit of an additional devoted adult in their corner.
Every parent wants their children to thrive, to discover their unique path, and to feel confident in their choices as they move through these transformative years. And while parents are so formative in a teen’s life, it often takes a village to ensure that teens are being supported from all angles. Trust us – finding a quality mentor for your teen might be the best thing you do in this new season, whether it’s a youth group leader, a counselor, a rabbi, a coach, or just a fantastic community member you know and respect.
Here at JBridge, you’ll find countless programs and opportunities for your teen to connect with adults who care about your children’s development and are here to help them navigate through these tumultuous times. No matter what your teens are currently experiencing, know that they are not alone, that you as a parent are not alone, and that we are here to support you every step of the way!