Mentoring FAQ

Why not Parents?

When I was 11 I wished that my dad would take me to a social setting, give me goals to work through (talk to this person, manage this situation) and give me feedback and instruction. I think my dad didn't do that because A) he was busy and B) he didn't want to suffocate me. Parents tell me that one of the hardest things they face is knowing how much to guide their children and how much to let them learn on their own.

That's where having a mentor can be so wonderful: in my way of mentoring, the mentor is not an authority figure like a parent. The mentor treats the mentee as a peer, but has the experience to know where the appropriate boundaries are and let the mentee know when to push forward more boldly, and when to ease off. A parent has too much authority, too much pressure on a child, to fulfill that role. An outside mentor can fill roles that a parent would be stretching to fill.

You can't be all things to all people, not even your children.

What's the Difference between a Mentor and a Tutor?

A tutor is usually there to develop excellence or shore up weakness in one subject. A mentor is there to map out the whole of a person's life, identify the areas that the mentee wants to work on, and develop a holistic strategy to move forward.

The way I use the word "mentee" is very similar to "life coach".

What makes a good mentor?

Empathy, wisdom, integrity, and intelligence.

The first three are self-explanatory, as for the fourth: the mentor needs to be able to understand the mentee. If the mentor can't stay ahead in every area, he or she needs to understand where the mentee is more advanced than them, and give all the surrounding support that the mentor can muster.