Mentoring Q & A

Elementary Q & A

Question: My mentee wants to talk about a sensitive issue and I’m hesitant to do so.  What should I do?

Answer. You do not need to discuss every topic your mentee raises, but sometimes questions or comments on sensitive issues may indicate an underlying problem and can be brought to the attention of the mentor coordinator on your campus. 

You should:

  • Try to determine why your mentee raised the topic, rather than avoiding it.  Ask why he/she is concerned about the issue.
  • Try to put your mentee at ease by telling them you appreciate them coming to you about the issue.
  • Ask if they have spoken to anyone else about the issue.
  • Tell your mentee that you do not feel able to help them with the issue, but offer to connect them with someone more prepared to help.

Reference: 

Manza, G & Patrick, S.K.. (2012) The Mentor’s Field Guide: Answers you need to help kids succeed.  Search Institute Press, Minneapolis, MN.

Secondary Q & A

Question: I just don’t seem to be connecting with my mentee.  What should I do?  Is it me?

Answer: Some mentoring relationships take longer to establish and some young people are just shy or not used to interacting with adults outside of family.

Some young people take longer to trust others due to feeling let down by adults in their lives. Developmentally, teenagers are more oriented toward their peers than to adults.  Finally, it might be possible that your expectations are out of sync with the reality of mentoring a young person.  You may be looking for results in the first stage of your relationship that do not typically occur until later in the relationship. 

Here are some things that can help establish stronger connections:

  • Have fun together. Ask mentee to make a list with you of 10 things she would like to do when you get together.
  • Let you mentee make the final decision on what you will do together.
  • Ask open-ended questions about your mentee’s interests, incorporate them in your activities.
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Be patient and persistent in the face of setbacks.
  • Keep telling your mentee how much you care about her.
  • Affirm your mentee’s good qualities and strengths.

Reference:

Manza, G & Patrick, S.K.. (2012) The Mentor’s Field Guide: Answers you need to help kids succeed.  Search Institute Press, Minneapolis, MN.