parent mentor tweenAs your child moves into his middle school years, life becomes more confusing as your child takes his first baby steps toward adulthood. It is during these tween years that parents find their role expanding into a new dimension, that of mentor. Tweens still need parents to provide the rules, limits, expectations and consequences that keep them safe and form the foundation for successful life. But they also need to be encouraged to think for themselves, make their own decisions and accept the consequences of those decisions.

What Is A Mentor?

Being a mentor to your tween does not mean giving up your role as parent, but it does mean creating opportunities for your child to open up and share what’s happening in his life. When he does, mentoring is mostly about listening. The mentor’s role is not to judge or solve problems but to listen and gently encourage tweens to examine their choices, recognize consequences and have the courage to take responsibility for their decisions.

Create Opportunities for Mentoring

• Mentoring takes place in those quiet times when you and your child are alone. Try these ways to create opportunities for mentoring:

• Go for a walk.

• Go fishing.

• Make a habit of reading in the kitchen on school nights. If you seem available, your tween may sit down for a chat when he comes in for a snack.

• Do something fun together once a week. Go out for lunch, see a movie, bake cookies or play family board games.

Look for other caring, responsible adults who can mentor your tween. Horizon Education summer camps, team sports, afterschool programs and school clubs offer good mentoring opportunities.