Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Putting the "Men" in Mentor - Part Two

A mentor is an individual, usually an older person, who influences, teaches and counsels another person. For many of us, the first mentor we had was our dads. A father influences his children's lives forever. Fathers can mold their children's values, temperament and dreams. In fact, many of us reading this may still be trying to live up to our father's long-range hopes for us.

If you have children living at home, now is the time to talk with them and find out their interests. Discuss the future with them; it'll be here before they know it. Start sharing your values and dreams. Tell them how you felt at their age with an endless future sprawled out before you. Your perspective will serve them well.

You can do this in informal ways: walking around a zoo, shooting hoops and playing "horse," sitting on a riverbank and drowning a few worms, working on a science fair project, or any one of a hundred activities you can share with your child. As you experience things together, your child will listen carefully to what you say but, more importantly, remember forever what you do.

You can raise your child to respect the environment, by respecting the environment yourself. You can raise your child to value differences in people, as you demonstrate your own appreciation for such differences by your words and deeds. You can raise your child to attend church by attending church with them. Thankfully, it's not rocket science; kids mirror what they see -- good and bad.

Children watch and listen; then they repeat what they see and hear.

And they're very good at repeating what they see and hear.

Dads, you are the first mentor your child has. But there are children all around you that do not have a dad in their lives. Perhaps their dad is separated from them temporarily; he might be in the military and deployed. Maybe he works out of town and has to be gone; maybe he has other obligations that take him away from the family.

When dads are absent from home life, their children miss out on important mentoring experiences. That is where you can play an important role in these kids' lives. You can seek out and include those children without dads in their lives, as you mentor your own children. What a great service that would be!

Note: The Men's NetWork has started a special Forum topic about mentors, available through the Men's NetWork page: www.lhmmen.com. Check it out. See what you think. Send us a comment or two.

This is a conversation worth having.

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