MOTHERS AND OTHER MOTHERS
by Jewels Devine
I have been somewhat surprised to find that the art of being a mentor is no longer the “in” thing to do. During my developmental years as a young wife, young mother, business woman and good community member, I often sought out the sage advice of women who have been in my shoes. Not only had they survived those challenging years, they seemed to have thrived. Why would I not seek their advice if for no other selfish reason than to make my life easier?
According to Webster, the definition of men-tor is 1. a trusted counselor or guide 2. tutor, coach. Mentoring is also defined as a professional relationship in which a more experienced person, referred to as the mentor, assists another person less experienced, referred to as the mentee, in developing specific skills and knowledge that will enhance the less experienced person’s professional and personal growth.
I am alarmed that young professionals are actually forming groups branching off from the Chambers of Commerce and setting membership age limits not to exceed 40. I don’t know about you, but my fount of wisdom didn’t fully develop until around the age of 40. These young professionals are excluding a business community that not only has rubbed a few blisters walking miles in their shoes, but has a wealth of valuable knowledge to share. I remember an old saying that goes something like this: “With age comes wisdom.”
Mentorship has always been a big part of our nation’s success. Organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters were established for a reason. This fine organization recently released this statement: “Big Brothers Big Sisters is the largest youth mentoring organization in the United States. With nearly 400 affiliates across all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Guam, it served 255,000 children this past year—more than twice the number of five years ago. Independent research shows that its model of professionally supported one-to-one relationships between young people and their Big Brothers and Big Sisters has a measurable, positive impact.”
I question the wisdom in branching off from a group of “seasoned” individuals. I am simply using the young professionals as an example. There are additional groups out there doing the same thing. Why am I so hot and bothered about this? I am convinced that strong communities are built by our elders and maintained by our youth. I believe that mentoring programs have proven effective by providing “real world” information, encouragement, advice, and access to networks that are otherwise often unavailable.
Now calm down, I am not implying that we do not have anything to learn from our younger community. It is important that both groups are willing to learn from each other. The successful impact of mentorship is for the mentor AND the youth. We always have something to learn... we just have to be open to gaining wisdom from those with whom we come in contact. Wow, what a great thing to have someone invest time in your success. That is a true gift.