Parenting can be the toughest and most rewarding job we ever have. If we have mentors in other areas of our life, why not have a mentor for the most important task we’ll ever take on? Few people are prepared for the 24/7, 365days a year role that parenting requires,so having a mentor or mentors to provide advice along the way can be a real sanity saver that can help you navigate and succeed as a Chief Parenting Officer in your family unit.
Finding the right parenting mentor isn’t always easy. Often we feel parental peer pressure to do things a certain way. Or worse, we trudge along on our own out of fear that we’ll be judged if we ask for help.
Need help determining what makes a good parenting mentor and where to find them? Read on.
Traits of a Great Parenting Mentor
Family therapists like Dr. Fran Walfish suggest that parental guidance shouldn’t be the result of parenting peer pressure. It’s important that each parent stay true to their values and remember that no one understands their child like they do. A mentor can provide much-needed advice and direction, but at the end of the day you have to be comfortable calling the shots.
Great parenting mentors share common characteristics:
- They are understanding.
- They aren’t pushy.
- They’ve got experience.
- They share the same values as you.
- They know no parent is perfect, including themselves.
Finding Your Parenting Mentor
Once you’ve determined what you’re looking for in a parenting mentor, the next step is finding the right one. Start with friends and family, then widen your search using the ideas below.
Teachers and student counselors are trained to handle just about anything that kids throw at them. Their chosen careers involve surrounding themselves with kids on a daily basis — and some even have kids of their own. We consider this a trifecta for making an excellent parenting mentor. Over the years, these professionals are exposed to just about every type of child and have had to cope with more troublesome issues than any one parent is likely to encounter. They also get an inside look at how kids interact with each other, which comes in handy.
Support Groups and Parenting Programs
Depending on where you live there may be a selection of support groups and parenting programs that are geared toward helping busy moms and dads handle general and specific issues encountered in parenthood. For instance, Project HELP has a Parent Mentor Program with the specific goal of partnering mentors with parents so that they can gain a better understanding of their child’s behavior and how to ease day-to-day stress.
If there isn’t a support group or program in your area, consider starting one. You aren’t the only parent who could benefit from the advice of others. Your children’s school is a great resource for holding meetings and finding other parents that are interested in mentoring each other.
As parents and grandparents, senior citizens have likely seen it all. Often, these sages have advice for the universal struggles of parenting like balancing kid time with spousal time and handling temper tantrums from toddlers. You can turn to friends and family or consider finding a senior parenting mentor by volunteering at a retirement community. That way it’s a win-win for everyone.
Parenting is more than a full-time job that comes with lots of ups and downs. Just as there’s no instruction guide that comes with your child, there’s no certification or training manual that provides guidance on how to be the best parent you can be. Each family is unique and does things their own way, but a parenting mentor can provide guidance and support that helps you cope with the moments of stress and celebrate all the good times.