Mentors and Mentees have different rules. If you know both sets of rules, you have so much more chance of having a long-lasting friendship!
I know because I have friends on FB today who I mentored my first year of MOPS over 15 years ago. The babies I once held in my lap so their mom could have a hot breakfast are now in high school! Even though I no longer live there, I have virtually watched their kids grow up.
First, the rules for mentees
- Consider a mentor who is the same gender. Something wacky happens when a woman asks a man to be her mentor—it usually ends in marriage. If you are already married, I don’t advise this strategy.
- YOU choose your mentor – they don’t choose you. Choose someone to mentor you based on who is doing what you want to be doing. Homeschooling, nursing vs bottle-feeding, balancing career with motherhood, fertility issues, single parenting, learning about your faith, health and fitness: You could have an informal mentor for every single one of these topics and more.
- Admire someone from afar to learn about them. Ask them to weigh in on a certain topic or situation because you trust their judgment. If you learn more or are affirmed, BAM! You had a Mentor Moment! If not, move on. This is mentoring. NOT Marriage. There are no commitments until they grow organically.
- In case you hadn’t noticed: You have to ask someone if you need mentoring. We are mentors, not mind readers.
Now for Mentors:
- Ask open ended questions: Instead of “how are you?” ask “What’s been the best part of your morning?” We should do a whole blog post on formulating open ended questions.
- If you feel a connection with someone who is struggling: offer to pray. At home or on site? You will know whether one, the other or both are best.
- TEXT TEXT TEXT your prayers and comments to your moms as you feel led. Keep your tone positive and helpful.
- Service: When a mom needs help, offer only if you can, just one time. Mentoring is not babysitting. It is not domestic help. It is not rescuing. You may do all those things…ONCE for a mom. Then you need to call in your Discussion Group Leader to rally all the moms at your table.
- Multi-Level Marketing: Be really careful. If you buy from one mom at your table, you may have 10 others who are selling something. I try not to start—not because I don’t want to support my moms, because I can’t support all of them. The pitch to be recruited as a “down-line” often follows. When you are a mentor, it’s harder to be an MLMer.
- Become a referral source: If you are asked for help from a mom with all boys and you have all girls, you may need to refer her to a mother of boys. If you are asked for help from a mom with a special needs child, bring in someone who YOU trust to help her. Get your referral list ready!
I confess, I have broken all these rules. Sometimes you get away with it, and other times you risk hurting a mom. Use these rules to develop a “one mentor to many moms relationship” with as many women as possible.
What do you think is the most important rule for Mentees? For Mentors? Are there other rules you use in your group that I didn’t mention? Please share them in the comments! Help us all learn how to be the best mentors!