Parents are always role models. You are a generation ahead of your offspring and therefore are always in the next phase of life. However, it is important that you behave your age and fulfill your role properly.
The age of your children is irrelevant. They will always look up to you. You don’t have to know everything about present day technology. It is your wisdom they seek. Whether you are a good or a bad role model is your choice.
Communication is the most vital part of a relationship. Bad communication is better than none at all and yet many relationships do not work at communicating. Sometimes we behave as if we can put our relationship on autopilot and we will live in bliss with no effort. There is no such thing as auto pilot when it comes to relationship.
Most every relationship that is experiencing problems began with a breakdown in communication. It requires work, real work, to communicate effectively. The biggest problem we create is we believe that all the sweet talk we do at the beginning of a relationship is the norm. It isn’t. We are simply flirting or getting to know each other, finding common ground. Yes it feels good, but most of the time that sort of conversation is shallow.
Our selection of a significant other, to a degree, reflects our self image. Some of the teens and young adults I have mentored continue to choose the same sort of people that they just broke up with. The values of the new boyfriend or girlfriend is no different than the last ones. And what do they have in common? My young mentees share these same values with their significant other. Surprised?
Many times I have asked about their situation and heard the disappointment in their voices at the way they are treated, again. Some have even justified the abuse they receive. One young lady told she deserves to be hit by her boyfriend. No human being deserves abuse, but until a person values themselves this will continue. True change begins with self, first.
“Mr. Augie they killed him!” the voice on the phone nearly shouted. It was “Bill” and he was crying. His best friend, a young man I had mentored, “Charlie,” had been murdered. He was gunned down by rivals. I always knew that this was a possibility, but I had never prepared for the moment. It was here and it left me feeling desperate, helpless .
The death of a teen, especially to violence, will never make sense to the rational mind. The next few days were a blur as I tried to go on with my life through my tears and darkness. He was 16 years old. That’s all. He had not started to live yet. All the memories of our conversations, our letters when he was in prison and our outings flooded my thoughts.
Even though time has moved on now and I have accepted his death, the memories of that day are still painful.
A mentor is not a surrogate parent. Although this should be obvious I have met mentors who somehow, along the way begin to behave as if they are the parent, although they are one with no authority. When the mentor arrives at this conclusion they have left their moorings as a mentor and are embarking on a new journey. Don’t mix the two.
There are several reasons why this line should not be crossed. The most important of which is that a child no matter how badly he has had it, will always love and desire to have his own parent’s, not a surrogate. The greatest strength of a mentor is that no matter what happens the mentor continues to be involved in the life of his mentee.
What does an at-risk teen who is drinking need to change in order to be successful? You must understand at that age and in their circumstances nothing good will come from this. “If you wish to remain a free man you must change your ways. All of them.” said I to some of the young men I have worked with. However, stubbornness and a society which enables have served to encourage the young men to resist the call for change.
Most of my young men have a system of values which do not assist them in facing the world we live in. Entering into an addiction in their teen years will cause a lot of harm. It will thwart their growth in maturing as a man. Drinking in and of itself is typically only a symptom of much deeper issues. Some of these are negative coping skills, poor money management, poor career planning, and I could go on. The issue is lack of a positive value system.
When I was young I thought I had the greatest friends in the world. And in many ways I did, but what I didn’t realize is that over time people change. Our needs, desires, ambitions will change. Time and space will separate us and we will part ways with many people whom we once thought to be inseparable.
Along the way we will discover that there will be those who will always speak truth to us. There will be those who will stand by us even when we are wrong. There will be those who will genuinely care how we are doing. And these people will be very, very few in number. A true friend is a rare gem. Protect this relationship.