Last week my 16-year-old son went through a one week military encampment. He went into it as a quiet, introverted teen and came out of it a more mature, confident young man. He was stretched beyond what he thought he could endure, he was taken out of his comfort zone and he was challenged to a great degree.
When I heard the stories of what he went through, I was in awe. I honestly don’t think I could have done it. I would have either broken down, as some of the cadets did, or I would have gotten very defensive and angry.
It struck me as I watched back some of the videos that I took of him at his graduation, how natural he seemed to fit in. Yes, I do believe the Air Force is his special calling.
In the midst of all this I have to give special recognition to one of the leaders of his Civil Air Patrol unit. He is a military man who volunteers his time to lead my son’s particular unit of cadets. He has been a wonderful mentor to my son.
I have always believed that mentors are important no matter what your age. I have had mentors in my life as an adult. They have made a huge, positive difference in my life.
With my son it has always been difficult to find a mentor for him. He is one of those types of people that are difficult to get through to. He is very quiet, keeps to himself and tends to push people away. I don’t think it is always intentional but he has a difficult time letting people in.
Everyone who has started off mentoring him has given up. It was too much work, too much effort. I can’t entirely say that I blame them. I tend to be pretty impatient so I probably wouldn’t have stuck around either. I would have figured that he just wasn’t interested.
But this one man in particular, who helped make a difference during that one week of military encampment, has stuck through it. He never gave up on my son. It took almost two years of him being involved in my son’s life before he finally saw some breakthrough. I am so thankful he didn’t give up.
Being a teen is difficult. They are facing tremendous pressures and challenges that can feel overwhelming. They need mentors in their life, people who will be there for them.
I strongly encourage parents of teenagers to seek out mentors for their children. I also encourage parents, no matter how old your own children may be, to take a step out of their comfort zone and mentor a teen.
Many teens don’t have grandparents or even parents who they can go to and talk with. Although my son can come to me at any time, I believe he needs the wisdom and guidance of someone other than mom or dad. Sometimes another person’s perspective can go a long way. Teens aren’t always so willing to listen to their parents but they may to another adult.
Find a mentor for your teen. Be a mentor.