Sunday, February 08, 2009

Why are there so few male mentors?

This is an article written by Graig Meyer, coordinator of the Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate Program for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. I think he's a genius, he's the guy that put Menticia and me together. I've tried to get the guys I know to mentor but they all present excuses 1, 2, 3, and 4 as summarized below. I swear it's one of the most fun and inspiring things you can do.

Extracts from
Why are there so few male mentors?
by Graig Meyer for the Chapel Hill News

Across the Triangle, there are dozens of mentoring programs trying to support young men by providing them with male role models. We know firsthand what newspaper headlines tell us: too many boys in our society are failing school and falling between the cracks.

Like most mentoring programs, the program that I run has one challenge that surpasses all others: recruiting enough male mentors.

Twice a year, our program trains a group of new mentors and brings in new students to our program. Last fall we faced a crisis. With only one week to go before our training for mentors was to begin, no men had stepped forward to volunteer.

That's right. No men had volunteered to become mentors. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

Recently, a social worker from one of our local elementary schools told me that she asked teachers at her school to recommend students for our program. They recommended two girls ... and eight boys. That's no surprise. There are probably about four times as many boys who need mentors as girls. Unfortunately, our female mentors outnumber their male counterparts 2:1.

Why don't men volunteer? (Are you reading this, men?) They consistently tell me four things:

  1. I'm too busy.
  2. I'm not patient enough.
  3. I wouldn't be good at it.
  4. I'm not sure it really works.

Guys, I'm calling you out. Those are excuses that are leaving our young men behind.

First of all, it does work. We have a 100 percent high school graduation rate for our male students, and 100 percent of them have also gone on to some type of post-secondary education.

You would be good at mentoring. You are patient enough. There is no movie-influenced Supermentor role that you need to fulfill. You just need to be yourself. There are boys in our community who need you.

Making the time is something you can choose to do. And I promise you that you will be rewarded.

Men: Step up to the plate. Mentoring programs need to hear from you. Most programs ask for you to give just a couple of hours per week.

You can include your mentee in things you're already doing, like going to a basketball game, fishing, fixing your car or cooking dinner.

Women: Reach out to the men in your lives. The best way to recruit a mentor is to tell him, "You'd really make a great mentor." Give them some information on a mentoring program in your area. Or even better, call the program and give the program a few names of your male friends. We'll call them on your recommendation.

Couples: Sometimes it's easier for a married couple to mentor together. If a husband and wife volunteer together, we can match you with a male mentee. You can split the mentoring responsibilities between you. It's a great activity to do together.

There are mentoring programs throughout the Triangle that need your support. It takes men stepping up to the plate to make sure that our programs don't struggle with this issue and that our society doesn't fail our young men.



At 2:07 PM, Blogger doris. said...

I believe this is a cultural/societal issue. Our boys are being raised by women when they most need a strong male role model. While growing up, men do not have role models of other men teaching/mentoring, whatever, unless they are in boy scouts, play sports (and even then, the moms do a lot of coaching and that is not mentoring), or are fortunate to attend college where a lot of the teachers are men, but the die is cast before then.

My take on it is: how can men mentor, if they were never mentored? How can you do something that you have no clue about?

Look at our elementary schools, where young minds are often shaped and formed. Female teachers predominate because most men cannot feed a family on the salary.

Fathers often work all the time & spend little time showing their sons how to do things. Many sons often would rather play computer games, etc. Many have no father or positive male role model in the home at all.

This is just my unprofessional opinion based on years of observation and a little bit of reading.


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