Questions asked by mentors:
Anytime a question comes up during your mentoring experience, do not hesitate to contact your Program Advocate. Their role is to assist with making the relationship a success for everyone. Here are a few questions that tend to come up often:
My mentee has asked to bring a friend along with us. What do I tell her/him?
The focus of a mentoring relationship should be one-on-one. Bringing additional children along takes the focus and attention off of your mentee. Additionally, only your mentee is covered by Mentor Duluth insurance. If you choose to bring along another child you need to be aware of the fact that you are fully responsible and liable for the child’s welfare and safety.
How about a sibling?
While a sibling enrolled in the program would be covered by Mentor Duluth liability insurance, we still do not encourage bringing siblings along on outings. A mentor’s role is not to serve as a babysitter for the family and the focus of the relationship should be between the mentor and child. If you need assistance enforcing this rule with your mentee or his/her family, contact your program advocate. In addition, the parent(s) have signed the match agreement which states that you will be in contact with the one child from this family.
Can I bring a friend, family member, spouse or significant other along?
Again, the focus of mentoring is a one-on-one relationship with a child. It is likely that your mentee with develop a relationship with people around you and it is ok to bring others along on occasional outings. We recommend that including others would be the exception rather than the norm.
What do I do if the parent is not home when I go to drop off my mentee?
? Discuss an alternate plan ahead of time with the parent(s) and follow that plan.
? If no plan has been made, see if there is another safe place that the child can be dropped off and leave a note for the parent. If your match card has an emergency contact number on it call to see if the person listed is able to assist you.
? Wait a bit to see if the parent returns.
? Bring child back to your home and continue to try to reach parent by phone.
? If you can no longer keep your mentee, check to see if the child is old enough, by law, to be left on their own (call your Program Advocate or the YMCA if in doubt). If they are old enough then decide if they are self-sufficient and comfortable enough to handle being left along and that the absence is likely to be short in duration before leaving them.
? If your mentee is old enough, then make sure they are able to get into the house before leaving and leave a message for the parent(s) on their phone or with the child.
? If your mentee is too young to be left on their own and you have exhausted all other options then bring him or her to the police station and they will attempt to locate parent(s) or eventually bring the child to Bethany Crisis Shelter.
? Call your PA if assistance is needed!
? Talk to your program advocate if problem continues.
My mentee never calls me or initiates activities. What should I do?
First of all, remember that your mentee is younger than you and probably has less experience initiating plans, especially with adults. Have a conversation about it and try to help your mentee understand that it’s ok for him/her to call you when they want to get together or have activity ideas. Be patient and remember that it will likely take some time for your mentee to feel completely comfortable calling you.
What do I do if my mentee moves or phone is disconnected?
? Talk to your program advocate to see if he/she has a new number. If your advocate does not have a new number, she/he may be able to assist in tracking one down.
? If comfortable, stop by the mentee’s house to re-connect with the family or send a note through the mail.
My mentee is missing school and his/her grades are suffering, what should I do?
It is not a mentor’s job to make sure their mentee is attending and/or succeeding in school. That is the role of parents and teachers. You could ask questions about your mentee’s situation such as: How is school going? Are you getting enough sleep? How are things at home right now?. Try to find out if there are underlying issues affecting school and discuss those if your mentee is willing.
Are there specific guidelines for giving gifts to my mentee?
It is fine to give your mentee a small gift for his or her birthday or a holiday but a mentoring relationship should not be about getting cool stuff from the mentor or even doing expensive activities all of the time. If you choose to give your mentee a gift, here are some things to keep in mind:
? Try to keep gifts simple, meaningful and fairly inexpensive.
? Do not give your mentee a gift that his or her parents could not afford.
? If your mentee has a real need for something that the family cannot afford, contact your Program Advocate who may be able to connect the family with community agencies that fill such needs.
? A nice alternative to a material gift might be to take your mentee someplace special to celebrate the occasion or make a gift with a skill that you have such as knitting.
My mentee (or their parent) has asked me to loan him (her) money. What should I do?
If your mentee or a member of your mentees family asks you to loan him or her money, state gently but firmly that you are not able to do so as Mentor Duluth has a policy against it. It is not the role of a mentor to save families from financial difficulties. Getting involved with giving or loaning your mentee or his or her family money can strain your relationship with your mentee, as money matters can strain any interpersonal relationship. If they have a specific need or reason for needing the money, refer them to your Program Advocate who may be able to direct them to appropriate community agencies.
My mentee asks me to buy her/him something most of the time when we are together. Sometimes I do but I do not want this to become a habit. What do I do?
The relationship you are building with your mentee is about mutual respect, good communication and learning about each others’ boundaries. It is not about how much you spend on them. Mentor Duluth places an emphasis on mentors finding low-cost or free activities for its matches to do together (See your current newsletter for upcoming activities and events for matches or contact your Program Advocate for ideas). It is appropriate and important that as a mentor you set up boundaries you are comfortable with carrying out. It is okay to say no or set limits on what you are willing to spend money on. The more your mentee is a witness to wise and thoughtful consideration concerning financial decisions, the better. In addition, setting up consistent boundaries, from the beginning, will help your mentee learn to set boundaries in their own lives. It may be helpful to set up a budget that you feel comfortable with and plan activities together based on this budget.