National Mentoring Month logo, designed by Mil...

When I was young, I had a friend who spent a lot of time teaching me the fine art of being a boy.  As we grew older, he taught me more about being a man.  The problem was, he lived a long way away from us and I hardly ever saw him.  My father wasn’t the best source of that kind of information, though I’m sure I must have gleaned something from him too.  So, I had few if any strong male role models in my life.

As I look at my son, I realize I’m a lot more like my father than my friend.  I have no idea how to teach a young boy to be a man.  I don’t know if I even know what that is.  I have to try and figure out how to teach him about honor, honesty, caring, balance, responsibility, and myriad other topics about which I know diddly-squat.  So he’s already starting out with a strike or two against him.

As I continue to wish upon a star for a miracle to salvage my “career” situation, I realize I still, even to this day, seek a mentoring relationship with people for whom I work.  I’ve done it almost everywhere – almost – I’ve ever worked.  I hope that somehow one of them will take me under their wing and teach me the “ropes” of … something.  Anything.  But the fact is, I’m not a young lad anymore who someone wants under their wing, and the idea of doing that with a man fast approaching middle age probably creeps people out.  Then I can’t figure out why I don’t get job offers.  Heh.

I guess all my life I’ve wanted a mentor.  Someone who would not just work with me and give me instructions, but teach me, show me something – a trade, a craft, the way the job should be done – and become that missing role model in my life.  The world is harsh and expects us to stand on our own two feet even if we’re not shown how to do that.  It’s like swimming in many respects – no one cares how you learned to get across the pool, only that you did.  If you don’t know how to do that no one cares whether or not you drown.  And being taught to do it right saves a lot of energy, time, and lives.  It certainly would’ve saved mine.

But I don’t know if anyone gets mentored anymore.  Does an old vet in some industry, craft or trade take a young buck and teach him the right way, the wrong way, the best way?  Is there anyone out there doing that, going through things day by day, step by step, making sure the protégé gets it, is able to do it, and can be turned loose into the field without fear of embarrassment, harm or failure?  Does that ever happen anymore?  Are apprentices treated that way?  Is there a bond, a friendship or paternal (or I suppose maternal, depending on what we’re talking about) relationship forged between the two, or is it just two guys working together and that’s it?

I’ve never known.  I’ve always wanted to.

What about you?  Did you have good, solid role models in your life to guide you, steer you the right way, make you straight and true as you fly through life?



7 thoughts on “Mentoring

  1. I’ve got an older brother who has always been there for me when I needed somebody. He taught me to shave, stuff like that. He tried to teach me to play guitar but it didn’t take. He was instrumental in my feelings on music and art.

    That’s cool, very cool. That’s how it should be.

    Much of what I know about women, he taught me. Take what you will from that statement.

    Well … no one’s perfect.

  2. Hm, maybe that’s why I’ve always taken on other people’s interests, especially boyfriends’. It took being married for a decade and finally losing interest in my husband’s activities to figure out my own. Now you’ve really made me think.

    Here’s hoping that’s a good thing. 😉

  3. I’ve didn’t have a real-life role model when I was a kid. I found them in books. Later in life there have been many people I’ve admired, but no “mentor” per se. I’ve often wished I could have a mentor, but now I find I AM one to some people, some of the time. And that’s even better.

    How cool is that? 🙂

  4. You are terrific mentor and I am sure an oustanding father. The real measure of a mentor and a man is the ability to face adversity and continue to do the right thing. Your boy will look at you and see someone that knows how to plow through hard times and make life fun and exciting. zman sends

    Wow, thanks, Zman! That’s a really nice thing to say. Much appreciated bud.

  5. What kids need is to know that their parents love and support them. It’s great if you can teach them flyfishing or whatever, but showing how to care about others is the main thing. They can learn about flyfishing from a video after all. Kids seem to learn best by what they see you do, not what by what you sit down to tell them about.

    Hm. Good points. I hadn’t really thought about this aspect; thanks for the eye-opener.

    My parents had some serious problems, but even when things were crazy, they made sure I knew I was loved and all that–they made sure that no matter how crazy things got, you could still be a decent, kind person. On those scores I’m sure you’re doing a fantastic job. That you even worry about it says something. Too many parents these days don’t seem to give their kid a second thought. So, don’t let your frustrations trick you into thinking you are a good mentor to your kids.

    You’re doing great.

    Thank you so much. I needed that uplifting. 🙂

    • That was supposed to be trick you thinking you aren’t a good mentor.” You know I meant though. Right?

      ‘Course I did. (How presumptuous of me, huh?) 😀

  6. ….im sitting here thinking about this post and my “role models”…at the same time im holding back something rising up from deep inside that makes my eyes teary..but its O.K happens sometimes when i think about growing up in our dad was a alcoholic..he got violent when drunk..we children were traumatized..the imprint is self evident..out of 6(2 boys /4 girls)non of us is “right” so to speak…i guess my older brother was my role model for awhile…we both worked for my dad from an early age in the family business..a greenhouse/nursery and florist shop..the people my dad would have working at the greenhouse were old fashioned drunks..perverts..criminals and rejects….every morning before starting work we were trained to come around and get our daily ration of valium and codeine(tylenol#3)from daddy who “doctor shopped” to insure an ample supply …it became a way of life for me and my was our “model”…thankfully my sisters were never initiated into this “inner circle” but later developed their own “problems”…… siblings and i still wrestle with the demons and the human wreckage of our past and not so distant past..i guess we are “survivors”…albeit broken ones….God help us.

    That’s a very powerful story, Mike. Growing up in an abusive home, no matter what the abuse method, is never easy and never leaves us whole. Thank you for sharing your story with me, and I’ll remember to pray for you.

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