Girls need older girls, and older girls need young women, and young women need older women…
There are times in our lives when we all need someone to talk to – someone who is not closely involved in our lives, who is a bit removed, but who cares. This is true for our children too – and parents can forget this, especially if they believe that their child is comfortable to come to them.
Needing a mentor does not indicate a failing in the relationship between parent and child, but it adds to it. In times of challenge or change, children need more than just their parents. Having another perspective, but an adult one, not just those of peers, is a powerful support.
Children like community. They like the feeling of belonging. They value the reassurance of knowing that people care about them. They like the security of having adults involved in their lives. Those adults can be family, or friends of family, neighbours, or teachers.
Sadly, we no longer know everyone in our neighbourhood, and we often live a distance from extended family, and apprenticeships are rare, and disciplining a child that is not your own is frowned upon, and children are not seen as the joint responsibility of any adult around. Our culture is one of not interfering in the lives of children that are not our own and so children have fewer adults playing an active part in their up-bringing.
And yet, having a mentor or two can be of such benefit. It gives a girl the sense that she has someone else looking out for her: someone else who cares; someone else who is interested enough to listen. Be it an auntie, a godmother, a neighbour, or a friend’s mother, find for your daughter women who she respects; and nurture the connection between them and your daughter.
Often you will need to invite them into the role. They may need your permission to be involved. Let them know how important they are to your daughter and how much you appreciate their input. Make sure your daughter can spend time or be in touch with them.
However old your daughter, think about who you can invite into this role.
Ideally, your daughter will grow up with a growing circle of women around her, women who she comes to know and trust, and who can be there when she has need of someone to turn to. Ideally, having experienced the support of mentors, your daughter will, in her turn, take a special interest in a girl younger than herself and so the cycle continues…