Part I of this series offered information concerning the need for male mentors. Part II described some of the qualities and attributes a male mentor needs to possess. In this final part I would like to share what a mentor does.
The basic function of a male mentor is to spend enough time with a boy or young man to teach him how to grow up in such a way that he is able to make a positive contribution to those within his sphere of influence. It is taking the raw materials of a young male’s life and helping him to reach his full potential within the context of his lifespan. It is a time consuming process that comes together bits and pieces at a time with no promises or guarantees. The one thing we know for sure is that a vast majority of boys have a much greater propensity for achievement when they are mentored than when they are not. Here are a few issues a mentor actively engages in:
A mentor teaches a boy how to be assertive without having to be aggressive which only looks out for “self.” A man shows a boy how to do “manly things” (play sports, fish, hunt, study properly, perform heavy labor, ride Harleys, study, etc.). A mentor teaches younger males how to be tough, strong and powerful, while at the same time being under control.
Genuine encouragement is a part of what a mentor does. He helps the younger man maneuver the maze of life even when difficulties arise. The mentor lets the one being mentored know that he has what it takes to overcome tough times. The mentor provides unconditional regard whether the young man makes wise or poor choices.
A sounding board is needed by every human being, especially when young and unsure of self and the circumstances of life. A mentor listens and allows questions to be asked about the best way to approach a situation to gain the maximum result. Perspective is given in the context of how a particular situation fits into the overall picture of life. Then, the mentor teaches the boy how to look at all the different aspects of the situation and how to determine the healthiest choice at that juncture in their life.
I believe one of the greatest roles of a mentor is to teach a boy how he knows when he has become a man. I see four very valuable areas that point to whether a male has reached “basic” adulthood.
- A male has become a man when his life becomes based on truth which provides a basic standard for what is right/wrong, good/bad, or helpful and not harmful to others. He seeks the best for those around him and for society as a whole.
- A male has become a man when he understands that life is not all about him, but what he can do for others without always expecting some type of compensation in return. Learning the art of being grateful goes a lot further than focusing on greed.
- A male has become a man when he learns to accept full responsibility for his own life without blaming others. A man is responsible for his own thoughts, feelings, language, social interaction, sexuality, and every other action.
- A male has become a man when he has learned how to treat women. A real man is polite and not crude around women. A man helps a woman respect herself physically and sexually. A man will make positive comments about a woman and not put her down in private or public situations. A man protects the woman he is with and sees that no harm comes to her.
As we put into practice the principles presented in this three part article, we can help create a generation of young men who will be healthy, reach their full potential, and make great contributions to the world.
Mike Holland, LPC