In the 5 Ps of navigating season changes, Place is very important. You need a Place or a cause that keeps you distracted from worrying about your young adult children. In this stage of their lives, they are looking for mentors, not moms. What if, for your Place or cause, you learned to be a mentor, a “mom-tor”–and with your new skills, attracted your own kids?

The surprising characteristics young adults are looking for most from their mentors!

In a recent survey of potential mentees, I asked the question:

What do you look for in a mentor?”

The answers I received were as varied as the people who responded, but one thing surprised me. Not because it was there–but because it wasn’t there.

Most people say “I’m not qualified to be a mentor.”

Not a single survey indicated that “expertise” was important. I am not certain if they assumed there was already a level of expertise, or if expertise is secondary. But clearly, it wasn’t top of mind.

My informal survey reveals that young adults look for the following characteristics:

  • relatable
  • available
  • authentic
  • understanding
  • inspiring
  • encouraging
  • holds me accountable
  • advocates for me

Look closely at the list. These qualities come down to two factors: love and trust. This is what our kids, your kids, are already looking for, but where are they looking?

In our present, fast-paced world, we all want Google-paced answers.

With all the data available to us, nearly every time a young adult hits the enter key at Google, they are asking for a mentor – FAST.

They by-pass the love, because they trust Google.

“Please, Google, how do I treat this paper cut?!” and then remedies they might discover could be death by infection, or grounds for a workers’ comp claim. A true friend, someone who loved them, might hand them a tiny bandage and say, “Suck it up, Buttercup! You’ll be fine.”

As wonderful and efficient as it is, Google, is no substitute for the love of a friend. That still only comes from humans. In practice, seeking help from online sources actually circumvents the process of developing love and trust with a human who may have practical, real life answers.

A cool, ancient example:

There is the best example of friendship between David and Jonathan in the Bible we can learn from. It says:

“By the time David had finished reporting to Saul, Jonathan was deeply impressed with David—an immediate bond was forged between them. He became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be David’s number-one advocate and friend.” (1 Samuel 18:1)

Jonathan and David’s story of brave friendship begins with Step One: Observation. Jonathan was impressed with who he observed David to be. Later in the story, we see how their friendship deepened to Step Two: Shared Experiences. Had Jonathan lived, I think we would have seen Step Three: Mentorship.

In Real Life

Step One: Observation: While a young adult is observing a potential friend or mentor, they look for the first three traits from my informal survey: relatable, available and authentic.

Step Two: Shared Experience: Coffee, a walk, a quiet conversation is a shared experience, which provides an environment where the next traits blossom in my informal survey: understanding, inspiration and encouragement. Those characteristics are foundational for Step Three.

Step Three: On-going Mentorship: The next step is follow up, time together, or just hanging out. And that is where the last two traits on my informal survey happen: accountability, and advocacy.

Who might be observing you right now?

Someone, perhaps even your own adult child, may be observing you as a prospective mentor right now. You don’t have to be an expert. Something intrinsic about you just needs to fit when she listens to you talk. How do you grow that conversation organically to Step Two: Shared Experience? It could be as simple as offering to buy her a cup of coffee. In that setting you can inspire, encourage and understand.

If you don’t have a Place yet, and you think you might like to reach out and make yourself available to a young adult–even if it’s your own young adult–Check out Mentor Prep Academy! In just over an hour, you can have all the mentoring tools I use to gain the love and trust of young adults.

Navigate this season change with purpose and panache! And give your kids what they need from you the most: a mentor when the situation arises, and the space to flourish on their own.

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