Father converses with son on top of wall, mtns
Mentor (men-ˌtȯr, -tər): someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person
Who ever said that when they grew up, they want to be a mentor? Not very many people, I’d guess, except for those in the teaching profession or perhaps the clergy. And yet as parents, that’s exactly what we are. We are mentors, teachers, disciplinarians, counselors, nutritionists, cab drivers, cheerleaders, and so much more. Mentors have had an important role in all of our lives, teaching us the ways of the world, the rules of the road, and the keys to success (to mix metaphors unapologetically). Finding a mentor is a real gift. Being a mentor is a challenge.
One can find mentors in unlikely places. It’s not like you can order one from Amazon. I’ve been fortunate to have several people in my life that I’ve looked up to, and have most recently found one working in a hardware store. I work nights there, and he was my boss. The humbling thing is that he’s younger than me, and younger than my son. Yet he’s wise beyond his years. He’s reminded me of the value of honor and integrity and hard work (part of the reason I’ve resurrected this web site). He’s reminded me that we are more than the sum of our mistakes, bad judgements, and stupid decisions. He’s reminded me to “adapt and overcome”, to “eat that frog”, and to never quit.
I’m not sure if mentors are only relevant temporarily, like “I needed a mentor to help me figure out my finances”. As parents, many of the things we teach our kids are relevant at the time such as how to tie one’s shoes or ride a bike. But I do believe that once a person is seen as a mentor, they must always stay “on point” in that role. You can’t stop being a supportive parent because your child has learned to tie their shoes. You are still teaching and mentoring when you light up a cigarette or get drunk in front of your child. It’s a lot of responsibility, and a responsibility that never goes away.
Parents, we are all mentors for our children and their children. Our children are blessed to have us, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to mentor. Take that responsibility seriously, and you will be rewarded. And maybe you’ll be lucky enough to meet your next mentor on your next trip to the hardware store!