The Biggest Myths About Being an FTC Mentor
“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” — Oprah Winfrey
Everyone needs a good mentor. But for children in foster care, particularly those who have experienced severe trauma, abuse or neglect, it can be life-saving.
Young adults who age out of the foster care system are particularly at risk for a host of problems, including homelessness, sex trafficking, employment and financial difficulties, and mental and physical health issues.
Fortunately, children are resilient, and mentors can show them how to relate to the world in a different way. The mentor-mentee relationship is proven to help young people build important life skills such as self-awareness, trust, communication, confidence, and the ability to set and reach clear goals. These skills directly translate to greater success in life for children in foster care.
It’s not just mentees who benefit. Mentors also gain confidence, communication and goal-setting skills during the process. In essence, mentoring is an opportunity for both mentee and mentor to see themselves in a more positive light!
At For The Children, mentoring is a crucial component of our mission to create life-changing moments for children who have experienced relational trauma. But we know that some people are reluctant to serve as mentors for a variety of reasons.
Here are the biggest misconceptions about mentoring and how we tackle them at FTC:
1. Mentoring is for the young (I’m too old to be a mentor)
What our children need most is a community of adults who care deeply about them. This means we welcome mentors of all ages and walks of life—someone just like you. Your story matters, and our children can benefit enormously from your life experience. Generational diversity is one of our greatest strengths as an organization.
2. Mentoring is time-consuming (I’m too busy to be a mentor)
We get it! Life can get crazy and adding another thing can feel like… adding another thing. But, it’s not just another thing—it’s the heart, mind and spirit of a child in need. Plus, our mentors and their mentees meet just once a month in a group setting, making for a regular and manageable schedule.
This time is well spent. Research shows that disadvantaged children who are matched with a mentor are twice as likely to attend college, 46% less likely to use illegal drugs, and 52% less likely to skip school. We know that your time is valuable, so you should know that the time you dedicate to being an FTC mentor makes a huge difference.
3. Mentoring takes special skills (I don’t know how to be a mentor)
You don’t need prior training, be an expert of any kind, or have a high-powered job to become a mentor.
When you join the FTC mentoring network, we provide you with training and a fully developed curriculum based on the proven TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention) methodology. You’ll also be joining a network of mentoring peers, ready to share their experience, strength, and hope. Ask anyone who has traveled this priceless path: The experience that you gain as a mentor lasts a lifetime for both mentee and mentor.
4. Mentoring is a long-term commitment (I can’t commit long-term)
We’ve considered this, of course. Raising healthy children takes a village, and you don’t need to mentor for a lifetime to make a difference. The FTC mentoring schedule is based on cycles of 6-9 months with clear beginning and end dates. Our cyclical structure let’s you choose when the season is right for you to mentor. We also offer our volunteers the opportunity to just support during our mentoring clubs that happen once per month in a large group setting.
We know it works, because we see our children benefit from consistent attention from caring adults even when the commitment is short-term. Besides, many of our mentors do return season after season. We’re willing to bet that you will too.
Make the leap that can change a life
Are you ready to nurture hearts and minds? All it takes is the desire to change the predictable path of a child in foster care who has experienced trauma—from bad to better, from feeling unloved to feeling hopeful again.