Mentors for young boys
Our society has made great strides to empower females, but it has come at a price. As a single mom, I’ve been so consumed with female empowerment that I’ve often overlooked my 5-year-old son.
Studies from the last 2 decades confirm that our focus on young girls can leave boys behind when it comes to their education and well-being. Encouraging young boys to find mentors can fix that. One out of every three young people in American is growing up without a mentor.
Our boys are struggling to survive in a society that has become increasingly isolated and phobic. A positive mentor may be the answer.
Why boys need mentors
Men die by suicide nearly 4 times more often than women. And boys ages 10-17 commit more crimes than girls within the same age range. One could argue that young boys need more emotional support than girls. A form of recommended emotional support is mentorship.
Unlike a role model, a mentor builds an intimate relationship and invests their time and resources into seeing a child succeed.
According to Tim Klein, an award-winning urban education, clinical therapist, and school counselor – “role models are important because they show young people, especially marginalized populations, that they can be successful.”
Reports show that having a mentor may improve self-esteem and reduce the risk of substance abuse and high school dropout.
According to filmmaker Frederick Marx – “another reason mentorship is important for young boys is it can help them understand and express their feelings.” He continues – “boys face all kinds of negative influences—cultural baggage—from peers and parents and coaches and others that tell them it’s not OK to express themselves. They need mentors to find their way to a meaningful self-portrait of mature masculinity—one that is consistent with who their emerging selves truly are.”
Maryanne Howland, a single mother documents her journey of finding her son a mentor after a suicide attempt in her book, Warrior Rising: How Four Men Helped a Boy on His Journey to Manhood.
How to help your son find a mentor
It’s important to explain to kids the benefit of youth mentoring. Stepping in to help your kid find a mentor is a good idea, as long as you understand what your child needs.
According to Klein, a good mentor should believe in their mentee. However, being a cheerleader for a young person is not enough. The mentor must-have resources that can be taken advantage of.
Ask the following questions about a potential mentor-
What resources do they have?
Do they know a lot of people?
Have they found success in school or a career?
Mentors are only effective if young boys believe in them. It’s impossible to force a mentoring relationship. Young boys should be part of the process of finding mentors in their community.