Monday, July 20, 2009

Close-up: Mentoring

Almost a whole year now. As my daughter approaches her tenth birthday I realize that we have enjoyed weekly tea times for a whole year already. As with many routines in some ways it seems much longer and in others it seems we have only just begun.

(If you want a little background, you can read about our first tea time, time spent "just" talking, and a few thoughts on how mentoring changes the mentor as well).

We both thoroughly enjoy Beautiful Girlhood as the springboard for our conversations.

Some of what I have learned about intentionally mentoring our children in the past year:

- Intentionality differs from obligation.

- The mentor learns about as much (some days more) than the mentoree

- Investing time in lives accomplishes more than you can ever imagine (grows relationships, develops love, challenges intellect, builds a vision for the future, gives a new glimpse into the eternal, satisfies and leaves you hungering for more)

- It needs a set time, but it also changes your perspective 24-7

- Kids need at least a little time with just you.

- This time will be gone before we know it

- It establishes habits when the ground is fertile

I still walk through the thick of it, so don't know for sure the outcome. I know that we are right now building invaluable foundations for the teenage and early adult years. I wish I had had this with my mom, maybe we wouldn't have lost so many years together.

Our conversations run the gamut, and our prayer time together is precious. Her insights are thought provoking and inspiring. I am often in awe of God already at work in her young life.

Mentoring also gives a platform for the challenges that come up throughout the week. Because we have these deep, spiritual discussions, we are on the same page. When her attitude slips, I can pull her back more easily. I know her heart, and she knows that I correct her because I care so deeply about who she is and who she is to become.

Taking specific, purposeful time with my daughter has been more amazing than I could have anticipated. I look forward to where this journey will continue to take us in the years ahead.

So what's holding you back? Pick a time, get together and make a difference on a whole new level. Do you already have a mentoring plan (structured or more free-spirited)? Please share! We can all learn from each other.


Amanda said...

I LOVED this post! I can't wait to do tea time w/my daughter. Just a Motivating Monday is up ~ I hope you participate. If I were you I'd link up this link because it was very inspiring :)

Kimberly @ RaisingOlives said...

I love this idea. Here is a question, do you think that this must be one on one time? I try to have a weekly tea, but that is with all 5 of our girls. I'm just wondering about trying to schedule that weekly with all 9 children.

I do think that I should be more intentional about mentoring the children. Thanks for this thought provoking post.

5intow said...

Kimberly, Great question! I grew up in a family of seven and almost never had one-on-one time with either of my parents. I can't say I felt neglected, but I also cannot say that I was close to either of my parents. So, I guess that's part of the reason that I feel this is important.

I only have five children so far, and only three girls, so I don't have nearly the logistics to manage that you do. I don't start the one-on-one time until they are nine years old, so right now I only have one. Eventually I figure I will have one three mornings of the week, but that's not for a while.

If you already do a weekly tea time with all of them, you might still be able to work in some one-on-one time once a month or so, especially with the older ones. Even grouping them by twos could probably have the same benefits, but I know each of my girls are so unique in their interests, personalities, and developmental levels that I will probably try to have separate times as much as possible even as they age.

A couple last thoughts, I have worked to spend time alone in other ways as well . . . taking one grocery shopping or to run errands, letting one stay up a little late (even if it is to help with chores), inviting one along on my morning walk/run with the dog, etc. And, at bedtime, I always spend at least a couple minutes in each one's bed.

I know no two homes will accomplish mentoring in the same way, and I had a heart for this for a couple years before we figured out how it would look in our home.


Dusti said...

Thank you so much. This was encouraging and a needed reminder to me. My oldest girl is 12. We find time here and there to talk but, I need to set aside some time for just us. Tea time is a great idea especiallyon the weekend when dad is home.

5intow said...

Dusti, you are very welcome. Enjoy, enjoy! Some weekends we just spend 20 minutes while breakfast is in the oven. Sometimes we get our breakfast and sneak off for another 20 minutes together. I cannot tell you how precious this has been and how much more precious my daughter is to me as a result of it.

Praying for all you ladies as you seek to walk with your daughters into womanhood.