Mentorship is highly sought after in today’s world, but what about parents as mentors? Could this be an effective parenting style? Dr Bill Price believes fathers and mothers can be excellent mentors..
While the various roles of parenting are often left to individual interpretation, the role of mentor has been well documented throughout history. Mentors help us to improve and have success. They train us, motivate, work with us and inspire us. So who better to take up this role for children than their parents?
Mentorship is an important part of parenting and is much needed in each new generation. Of course the role of mentoring is not the exclusive to parents. It is found in every arena of life from school to the corporate environment. Coaching and mentoring also plays an important role in helping individuals and teams to develop in the business world.
Historically parents have fulfilled roles such as teacher, councillor, and guide. The challenge is (and has always been) for the parent not to adopt too much of an authoritative tone. In which case, parents as mentors could be the most effective ‘parenting model’ in this day and age. We simply need to point our children in the right direction. If you are a parent, will you take up this challenge?
I encourage you to embrace this new definition of parenting. Parents as mentors can have a huge impact in the lives of their children during their most vulnerable point in growing up and this is an awesome privilege.
Mentorship is basically about enabling. In a family situation it’s about helping each individual to become more effective without impacting the family unit in a negative way. Young children need guidance to help them clarify any personal confusion they face, improve their confidence and understanding of the world
Parents as mentors need to help focus their children on who they are and what they need to do to become successful through harnessing their individual talents and strengths. Effective mentoring provides a means of support and helps each individual become more innovative, making them more resourceful.
Parenting in general focuses on the task and on performance, giving feedback mostly when things go wrong. Parents may expect results based on their own dreams at times and not on the dreams of the child. They may be driven by performance, achievement or recognition. They may only pay attention to what the child does wrong. Furthermore, they may be driven by their own ego, developed in their own childhood, held back by their own childhood wounds and only see the gaps.
The benefits of having parents as mentors
Mentoring on the other hand tends to focus on the mentee, son or daughter in this case, the individual child and their particular dreams and characteristics. Parents as mentors focus on a long-term relationship, giving feedback from a place of wisdom, experience and knowledge so their child can come to their own conclusions. This develops capabilities and competencies. The process is driven by the personal agenda and enquiry of the child and not the parent.
The rewards of being a mentor are usually intrinsic, rather than financial or external. The mentor provides a confidential forum within which the mentee can discuss matters of their choice in an open and safe way. This will require the mentor to be non-judgmental at all times, encouraging a safe environment. The major emphasis on this process is based on interpersonal relationship dynamics rather than the mentee having to ‘prove’ themselves by means of performance.
The mentor serves as a confidant to the protégé and offers advice so that their lifestyle can become positively world-wise and spiritually aware. As parents we need to instil purpose into our children’s lives and help them to develop an agenda that will identify areas for discussion within our safe relationship.
In essence a mentor is someone who helps a mentee or protégé in their personal development and includes a process that involves building a trusting relationship where confidentiality flourishes and creativity is encouraged.
Parent mentors need to develop competencies such as:
- the ability to actively listen and engage in terms of understanding the context beyond what is being said;
- show unconditional positive regard;
- ask open ended questions;
- enable children to define issues to gain perspective from their context;
- provide opportunity for affection and positive reinforcement;
- focus on the person as a whole;
- encourage your son or daughter to find their own solutions and back them;
- give the protégé time and space to reflect and consider views;
- be aware of moral principles;
- understand how personal defence mechanisms come into play and impact on development; (Defence mechanisms, limiting beliefs and wrong belief systems often hold people back from achieving their” best version” in their lifetime.);
- identify and understand the coping strategy and capacity their child has; unreasonable expectations and demands can lead to burn-out, both for the mentor and protégé
- give recognition; and
- complement the child to build them and empower their self image.
The mentoring process is a facilitation process. I have had the privilege and pleasure of seeing the powerful impact that this process has on life development. My encouragement to parents is to avail themselves of every resource, through the Internet, books, podcasts and coaching. Then, facilitate a mentoring process which builds up your child as an individual in the family as well as a valued membe of the family unit.
Consider participating in one of Dr Bill Price’s coaching courses – Ask about the Parent Coach course or consider attending one of his free ‘Synapses’. These neuroscience based webinars are held twice a month over Zoom dealing with a variety of different topics.