Raising children as a single parent can be challenging at so many levels. Often we have to take on a role of trying to be both mother and father if the other parent is not involved in a child’s life. It can be extremely difficult to take on both roles, have a career, maintain a home and all of the other aspects of raising a family. Getting help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of wisdom. Mentoring can be one way to effectively help meet the needs of single parent families.

According to Big Brothers Big Sisters , one of the oldest youth mentoring programs in the country: “Mentoring is a structured and trusting relationship that brings young people together with caring individuals who offer guidance, support and encouragement aimed at developing the character of the mentee.” A mentor should absolutely be someone that you know very well and have deemed as trustworthy. This person should be a same sex adult (as your child) who has an interest in your child’s development. This could be a family member, close friend, fellow church member or even co-worker.

Finding a mentor in today’s busy society can be problematic. Many people have their own families and very limited time and may not want the extra responsibility of helping to shape another child. Persistence is the key to finding the right person or people for your child. You will probably have to ask more than one person, but don’t stop asking the right people. It is wise to try to find more than one mentor, which might take the pressure off of one person to be the “Mentor.” If you can approach someone that you already know and ask them to be “one” of your child’s mentors they may be more open to the flexibility that a team of several mentors can offer. A mentor does not necessarily have to be an expert or even have a lot of the same interests as your child; just having another adult in their lives shows your child that they are important to other adults can help them to feel really good about themselves.

Studies show that having another caring adult (other than a parent) in a child’s life can:

• Increase the youth’s self awareness

• Increase academic achievement

• Help the child to make positive life choices

• Help them to become self-sufficient, productive adults

• Strengthen relationships with family and peers

Mentors do not have to take the child on a special outing each time they spend time together, the main goal should be to have another healthy adult in the child’s life to model positive behavior and get to know the child for who he or she really is.