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youth ministry, parents, student ministry

Mentors Working With Parents

By Doug Franklin December 6, 2012

Parents are the most important and influential people in a student’s life.  They are their primary faith influencer, and their role is critical in their student’s development.  Mentors, on the other hand, have the opportunity to be a third party voice.   An outsider that is free of any relational baggage, and can demonstrate the same life and spiritual values from a perspective outside the family system.  When working in tandem, parents and mentors create such a strong force that a student is more likely to be empowered to carry their ownership of faith as they walk through the doors of adulthood. Parents and mentors can reinforce from all angles how to walk with Christ, digging deep into a student’s life, and modeling a godly life from various positions.

When a student hears a message, but only hears it in one place, they are likely to compartmentalize it.  So when following Christ is only embraced in the home and at church, its easy for it their faith to become environmental.  By adding in a Christ-like influence outside of those environments, it only helps in the transformation process.  Having a Christ-like influence outside of the home helps take the “daily grind” mindset out of a student’s faith and allows students to safely process their faith in even more areas of their life.  A good mentor will cause students to process and mold their faith and life into one.  A good mentor will also begin to smooth out the rough edges in a student’s development, that maybe a parent can’t reach.

Working Together:
Communication
In order to be effective and transformational, parents and mentors have to be on the same page and work together.  One of the most important ingredients in this relationship is communication.  This doesn’t mean every detail of a student’s life is revealed and discussed at meetings, it just means that there is a check in and an open line of communication.  Mentors never go against or outside of the bounds of a parent’s guideline for the student, that’s only possible because the guidelines have been communicated in the first place.  Parents will also give more freedom and trust when they are informed, and understand the goal a mentor has in mind.  When problems or obstacles come, the open line of communication that’s already been established, will be vital.  Even if you rarely use the line of communication, keep it open, and the mentoring relationship will have the opportunity to reach its potential.

Respect
The second most important ingredient for parents and mentors to have as a part of their relationship is respect.  Both parties are making an investment for the spiritual growth of a student.  There is a history the parents own with their student, that no one else can understand.  There is a story that only a parent knows.  So in their parenting decisions and desires, they must be respected and supported by the mentor.  On the other hand, a mentor isn’t a parent, and won’t have the same relationship a parent has with their own child.  A mentor needs to be given the ability to build a relationship that is uniquely different than a parental relationship.  Both parents and mentors goals are for the development of the student, but they are coming from different places, so each relationship will be individually complimenting of each others.  It takes a great deal of respect to have two parties, with different roles, responsibilities and areas of influence in a student’s life, but still be working toward the same mission.

Share the mission
Parents and mentors need each other.  One is not nearly as effective alone.  So I encourage you to get on the same page, and offer the student the best by supporting each other and walking the road together.  If you are a mentor and haven’t checked in lately with your student’s parents, go out to coffee and at the very least, encourage and pray together for the student.  If you a parent, and your student is being mentored by someone you haven’t heard from in a while, give them a phone call and check in, you may learn something great about your student you never knew.  When you are in it together, parents and mentors are a force to be reckoned with!

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More