For a child, adult relationships matter. There are a variety of adult figures in the lives of children, which usually begins with their parents, and the circle can grow to include extended family and teachers. In some cases, however, a child may need more support from a wider circle, such as a mentor who encourages and enables them to grow into someone even more exceptional.
For adoptive children and youth in a kinship family (care provided by relatives), mentoring reinforces their family stability as they discover their sense of self and their place in the world. That’s partly why Adoption Network Cleveland: The Ohio Family Connection launched the EMBRACE (Enhanced Mentoring, Building Relationships and Cultivating Experiences) Mentor Program this year — to help adoptive and kinship youth see their full potential, experience new perspectives, and realize that someone cares for them.
Here are three examples how mentoring matters for children, and how someone like you — as a person with a similar background — can consider getting involved:
1. Mentoring offers a child various perspectives
A mentor can be a source of advice for the youth and serve as a role model who has been down the same road and achieved success. That connection can become a life-long relationship that enriches a child’s outlook on life and inspires them to set and achieve goals. Based on their life experiences, a mentor can bring different views of the world and share that with a child. When children see those possibilities and perspectives, it can grow their confidence, improve their relationships with other adults and peers, and minimize negative behavior.
2. Mentoring provides a healthy, stable adult relationship
Children that need a mentor may come from difficult backgrounds and struggle in school, but through the mentoring process they can learn to develop a healthy social relationship, ideally on a long-term basis, with a mentor, sometimes for the first time in their life. That supportive relationship gives the child someone to look up to who understands their experience. Mentoring has been shown to strengthen a child’s relationships with parents, teachers, and peers, and enhancing their self-esteem and confidence—simply by being a guidance figure for a child.
3. Mentoring shows a child that someone cares
The most important aspect of mentoring is that it demonstrates care by an adult figure. Children know they should feel loved by their parents and valued by their teachers, but when an additional supportive figure enters their life and expresses cares for them, they are made to feel even more special. That support often makes the most impact on a child by making them more likely to focus on their academics and becoming active in their community, and less likely to get in trouble or miss school. Having an adult mentor increases a child’s likelihood of attending college by 50 percent, and 46 percent less likely to use drugs and 27 percent less likely to use alcohol.
Given all the ways that mentoring can improve a child’s attitude and drive to unlock their potential, hopefully you’ll consider taking a role as a mentor in a deserving child’s life. Adoption Network Cleveland’s EMBRACE Mentor Program, for youth 10 and older, is an opportunity to provide support and understanding through shared life experiences.
Learn more about EMBRACE Mentoring and attend our upcoming Mentor Orientation and Training on June 9.