The most over-used WORD that still seeks doers..
Growing up in Jamaica, it was not unusual for my parents to leave home and return with a cousin, friend of the family or any other person in need they could ” Adopt.” These people would stay as long as needed and we would make room without a word as if they were always there. My sisters and I would wonder who was next but not once did we ever feel put upon because we were raised to be thankful for all we had and to go one step further by giving to those not as fortunate for whatever reason.
I do not think any of us however, thought we would become adults and do the very thing our parents taught us through their stellar examples;
It started innocently enough for me. I was living next door to a single mom with two girls years ago and they spent so much time in my house, one would think I was raising them. One afternoon, the older child came home in distress and asked if we would chat confidentially. She was very concerned for a friend who was 15, pregnant and facing eviction from her parents’ home not because she was with child but rather the father of said child was black. I was stunned but remained calm and asked if I could speak to the young lady.
We met a few days later and sure enough, she repeated what was told to me. I then went to see her parents and while her father seemed concerned for his child’s welfare, her mother was adamant that she was not living in their home with a black baby and she had to reside elsewhere once the child was born. Without thinking too hard, I made the decision to give my son’s room to her and had him sleep on the sofa. She stayed with us for a year and in that time, I made her promise not to have any additional children until she felt secure enough in several ways to do so and walked her through a couple of promotions at a local bank.
Today, she lives in a beautiful home, is a successful money manager and the mother of three beautiful children with her mate by her side. I often think of her as we lost touch over the years but I still believe it was just the right and humane thing to do.
As my kids grew, their friends all knew I was “no nonsense” and would knock on my door knowing their behaviour had to be “up to snuff” and it started with a proper greeting. So many young people came through our doors that were challenged with family life, dad missing or in prison and mom was over whelmed. I also saw many children who had both parents in the home but for whatever reason, they struggled. I only had two things to give them consistently.
Structure and Love.
It worked like a charm and continues to work to this day. Young men were sent to me over the years that the parents later confessed, they had lost control of their child and just knew they would be imprisoned or dead at a certain age. In retrospect, I am glad I found out after the young men went on to college and made decent lives for themselves because I never saw anything but greatness beneath their struggles.
I remember the young man that wanted to be able to visit my home and knocked on the door to ask what did he have to do to make that happen. His grades were lacklustre and dude was well on his way to 200 plus detentions for the school year! I rolled my eyes, put my hands on my hips and laid down the rules. He met them and to this day, he is one of my favourite “sons” who will be someone to watch in the near future. His leadership skills flow naturally, he just needed a way to put it in proper context.
Then there is the one who pulled the fire alarm in the middle school on a dare with his other friend… sigh His Thanksgiving was spent in a soup kitchen begging for mercy. Fast forward, he is in California now doing great things….
I did not ever expect them to be perfect; what I required was deliberation before they did things they would later regret.
When I was tagged to lead a parent group in an effort to support a new program in our middle school, we took that challenge on with vim and vigour. Nine years later, hundreds of young men and women call us MOTHER.
The act of mentoring is a simple one. It requires no money to love and very little to nourish a child. The rewards are indeed priceless and yet, we find so many who speak of it, see young people struggling and refuse to step up and help in any way they can.
We have all heard the excuses;
- We can’t say anything to these kids because their parents are out of control too.
- I do not have any time in my day.
- They are heading straight to prison so why bother?
- What’s in it for me?
I could go on but you get the point. Let me say this; mentoring is not a way to feed your ego and if you feel the ONLY way you can address it is if you start an organization and secure all kinds of grants, don’t bother either. There are far too many large mentoring organizations that sound and look good, yet we still have too many children in need of one. The best mentor truly is the person/persons that lives among the young people and have ways to see and speak to them on a fairly regular basis.
As the young people gain confidence, you will hear from them less but they will never, ever forget what you have done for them.
At my ripe old age, I have a few mentors of my own and they have been the backbone when life deals things that are challenging to manage. I have my village and I am certain many of you do too. No man is an island.
Look around you and make the effort to work with one child who you know may need some help. I will not be easy, but it most certainly will be worth it.
Posted on October 31, 2013, in Culture, Education, Mentoring, Parent, Writing and tagged commumities, Education, Life, love, mental-health, mentoring, society, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.