Did you know? The story of Mentor comes from Homer's Odyssey. Odysseus, king of Ithaca, fights in the Trojan War and entrusts the care of his household to Mentor, who serves as teacher and overseer of Odysseus' son, Telemachus.
The definition of a mentor, according to Merriam Webster is: noun men·tor \ˈmen-ˌtȯr, -tər\ 1capitalized : a friend of Odysseus entrusted with the education of Odysseus' son Telemachus 2a : a trusted counselor or guide
Which brings us to the question, what is the role of a mentor today? Here are some ideas to think about:
· Be a friend, not a parent or authority figure. Mentors are trusted guides helping young people make positive decisions, form their own values, and realize their potential.
· Have realistic goals and expectations.Mentors understand that change doesn’t happen overnight and that setbacks occur.
· Have fun. Getting to know the young person is the primary goal of any mentoring relationship. Activities such as hanging out, grabbing a bite to eat, or playing basketball, help build the relationship.
· Allow the mentee to have voice and choice in deciding on activities. Ask your mentee what he or she would like to do during your time together. This ensures that the young person will be interested and engaged in the activity.
· Be positive. Offer encouragement and assistance. When times are tough, help the young person focus on the future. Celebrate successes large and small.
· Let the mentee control the direction of conversations. Don’t push the mentee to tell you everything at once; allow him or her time to get to know you. Be sensitive and respectful and above all keep everything the mentee says to you confidential (unless the youth plans to hurt herself or someone else).
· Listen. Sometimes the young person will need to vent about school, work, home, or friends. By listening more than talking you can learn a lot and build your relationship.
· Respect the trust the mentee places in you. Don’t judge the mentee or provide unwanted advice. Reassure him that you will be there no matter what.
· Remember that your relationship is with the young person, not his or her parent. The focus of the match is on the youth’s goals, not those of the family. At the same time, avoid passing judgment on the mentee’s family.
· Remember that you are responsible for building the relationship. Take the initiative to keep in contact with your mentee.
(Excerpt from http://youthbuildmentoringalliance.org/content/tips-being-great-mentor)