Did you know that it’s National Mentoring Month? Every month seems to have multiple tags lately, but this one stuck out to me because I coach pregnant women and mothers. The word mentor is a synonym for coach and it is what I like to think that I do each day. So, what does it mean to be a mentor?
We acquired “mentor” from the literature of ancient Greece. In Homer’s epic The Odyssey, Odysseus was away from home fighting and journeying for 20 years. During that time, Telemachus, the son he left as a babe in arms, grew up under the supervision of Mentor, an old and trusted friend. When the goddess Athena decided it was time to complete the education of young Telemachus, she visited him disguised as Mentor and they set out together to learn about his father. Today, we use the word mentor for anyone who is a positive, guiding influence in another (usually younger) person’s life. -“Mentor.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2017.
An old and trusted friend.
That sounds great. But what if your friends don’t parent the way you do? What if they don’t understand why you are making the choices you are? What if they don’t support you? No – you don’t need to get rid of your friends. You may need to add some new ones, though.
A positive, guiding influence in another person’s life.
This is how I define a mentor, and what I look for in my own relationships. I do not need (and cannot offer) a continual stream of “Yes”. What I need is someone who sees that there is more for me than what I can see for myself right now. I need a person who can clearly see where I am, where I could be and can help me create the path that connects the two.
What does that mean for pregnant women and mothers? What should you be looking for in a mentor?
Look at your friends and family. Which ones have relationships with their children that you admire? Who has been honest with you in the past? Who seems to have a guiding principle to their life or relationships? This isn’t about looking around for who has the most picture perfect life.
I have a friend who has amazing communication with her children. She speaks openly and honestly about the moments when she just stops to really ‘tune in’ to them and how often she realizes they are smarter, more intuitive, or more mature than she gave them credit for. She reminds me to stop, respect them, and give them time.
As my children grow, as I grow, the things I need from a mentor change. The mothers I look to for advice and guidance may change as well. Their friendships don’t become any less important, but the focus shifts.
How long will I need this?
Whether it is a woman joining a support group, a friend on medication for a mental illness, or an expectant parent hiring me as a coach this is always the first question. I always have the same answer – I don’t know. No one knows. You could have one mentor relationship for years and another for weeks. There may be a mom who guides you through potty training, or breastfeeding. You may have a life-long friend who is also a mentor. You may hire a coach for a month or a year.
We all need a positive, guiding influence at times. None of us need walk alone.
But – THE MOM WARS!!!
If you feel like you are being attacked every time you post a question online. If you feel like you are being judged for every problem you share. If you cannot talk to your friends or family because they see doing things differently as a rejection of them – please listen to me. There is a place for you. There are millions of parents, online and in person, all around the world who are giving and receiving support. They are learning from each other and helping each other. If you are having trouble finding them let me know and I will help you.
Who are your mentors? Where do you find support and guidance?
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