Mentoring Teens(advice & Thoughts)

  • comical44

    Posts: 723

    Nov 26, 2011 5:49 PM GMT
    So this obviously has nothing to do with "All things Gay". I just didnt know what category to post it under....so I thought it would be interesting to get some thoughts and advice.

    Within the last 3 weeks Ive made the choice to start to Mentor 2 Teenage Twin Boys...Its being arranged through Myself and their Case worker and the mother as well...Both the Case worker and Mother think its a great Idea and So do I.

    I know both of them through my job and Im around them on a daily basis..I have a good relationship with them both.

    They are both alike but also very different in their own ways. But right now in their life they dont have much support or positive people in their life...Really no Family except Mom,sister and Step Father. They are both great kids but are choosing to make bad decisions outside of school whether thats getting into a little trouble or experimenting with typical teenager things...Their Family doesnt have a lot of money or "things" and I truly believe that all they both want is some attention and need someone they can count on.Almost like an older brother figure.

    I sat down with both of them individually w/ their caseworker along side of me when I asked them if they were interested in me coming into their lives as a mentor,kind of like big brothers big sisters and Both of them were so Eager and seemed excited. The one actaully has been asking me everyday for the last week and half when it will be starting and what it will involve he then asked "will you be someone I can look up to?".

    Tomorrow I meet with the Mother to officiate it...I know its going to be a lot of work but I also think it will be rewarding to have little Brother like Relationships,seeing as I dont have a little brother.

    Have any of you dont something like this? Also what are your thoughts and advice?
  • comical44

    Posts: 723

    Nov 26, 2011 6:23 PM GMT
    Anyone with some Thoughts or Opinions?
  • comical44

    Posts: 723

    Nov 26, 2011 7:59 PM GMT
    Thanks,Wish more people would leave feedback
  • comical44

    Posts: 723

    Nov 26, 2011 8:00 PM GMT
    @Trollileo

    Thats very nice of you and im sure they appreciated it or will in the future..Good karma for you
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    Nov 26, 2011 8:19 PM GMT
    I have been doing something similar for many years. I think it is incredibly hard at times, but overly rewarding when you feel like you can take some small amount of credit for the "improvement" that takes place in their life. There are plenty of ups and downs. Try not to get discouraged with the down moments - if they get arrested for truancy or fail a Math exam. All that matters is they learn from the experience and make different mistakes in the future, not the same mistakes over and over again.

    A word of advice: you are not there to be "cool." You are there to be a role model. If you see behavior that needs modification do not be silent and look the other way. In this situation a lot of people get nervous about appearing "square" - but often it is a test to see what you are all about, and kids really like to test you that way to see how you react this time to extrapolate into how you might react to something more serious. Be the sheriff - but the sheriff like Woody in Toy Story. Not the pepper spraying d-bag. Be supportive. Listen more than you talk, at first. Offer guidance. Don't hesitate to tell a bad joke or three to break the ice.

    You don't have any photos so let's go with the obvious question - do the mother, children, and case worker know you like dudes? Are you out at your job? If not - have you calculated the risks when someone "finds out" and you did not previously disclose that? The Big Brothers program used to actively reject the gays when they applied to be a part of the program as mentor - I know it is not BB you are going through, but that mindset is still quite pervasive (e.g. Boy Scouts) in America when "impressionable children" are going to be around an older male figure.
  • comical44

    Posts: 723

    Nov 26, 2011 8:27 PM GMT
    spaghettimonster saidI have been doing something similar for many years. I think it is incredibly hard at times, but overly rewarding when you feel like you can take some small amount of credit for the "improvement" that takes place in their life. There are plenty of ups and downs. Try not to get discouraged with the down moments - if they get arrested for truancy or fail a Math exam. All that matters is they learn from the experience and make different mistakes in the future, not the same mistakes over and over again.

    A word of advice: you are not there to be "cool." You are there to be a role model. If you see behavior that needs modification do not be silent and look the other way. In this situation a lot of people get nervous about appearing "square" - but often it is a test to see what you are all about, and kids really like to test you that way to see how you react this time to extrapolate into how you might react to something more serious. Be the sheriff - but the sheriff like Woody in Toy Story. Not the pepper spraying d-bag. Be supportive. Listen more than you talk, at first. Offer guidance. Don't hesitate to tell a bad joke or three to break the ice.

    You don't have any photos so let's go with the obvious question - do the mother, children, and case worker know you like dudes? Are you out at your job? If not - have you calculated the risks when someone "finds out" and you did not previously disclose that? The Big Brothers program used to actively reject the gays when they applied to be a part of the program as mentor - I know it is not BB you are going through, but that mindset is still quite pervasive (e.g. Boy Scouts) in America when "impressionable children" are going to be around an older male figure.


    Thanks for the advice its helpful...Yea I want to be a role model to them. Im not pefect but I feel Like I could teach them a lot of thing in life ya know?I feel like it would be very rewarding in my life.Im not going to be a drill sergeant with them...more of an older brother figure.

    No,no one at my job knows and they dont either..I dont find it to be any of their business to be honest
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    Nov 26, 2011 9:17 PM GMT
    I'm an intern for a NPO that works with the Formerly Incarcerated and their families. We also work within correctional facilities both Adult and Juevinle. I have worked with troubled youth and I can tell you it's tough. It's really about showing them the ropes to what's acceptable and what's not. For kids usually in this situation, you usually find that there is more going on than what meets the eye. I heard of one crazy situation from an officer at a detention center here. He had a boy talking really douch trying to get a girl's attention. "Yeah Bitch you know you want my nuts!" And of course she's like, "screw you!". He had to be the one to set him straight that only thing he's going to be getting is a slap across the face from her talking mess like that. He told him to be respectful, courteous,... basic things like that you know? The kid began to change and to see that what the officer was telling him paid off. He gained his trust and more importantly his respect and he began telling the officer why he acted the way he did. Turned out when the kids was 13 his father hired a hooker, had sex with the hooker infront of him then made the son have sex with the hooker to become a "man". As you can imagine... the officer was required to report that and it got real ugly for the dad. Just besure you understand your state's reporting laws. You never really know where it will go with kids espically ones having problems. Sometimes its just being curious but most often... its not. Good luck to you. I know from experience it will be a little rough but most likely worth it.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Nov 26, 2011 9:41 PM GMT
    Although I have never been a mentor to teens like that, I have to advise to be cautious about them. The question asked by one of the teens, "will you be someone I can look up to?", sounds like a disingenuous question that seems that he is out to humiliate you and the whole mentoring idea by way of sarcasm and practical jokes. Teens don't express their need for role models in a direct manner such as that. If they were that direct and self-aware, they wouldn't need a mentor in the first place. Take it cautiously and be objective about it. If you get the suspicion that something is amiss, trust your instinct and investigate it.
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    Nov 26, 2011 9:43 PM GMT
    Hey,

    That is awesome and I hope it works out really well. If you have a blog or anything it would be good to read about how it goes.

    It sounds like that because you know them already that you are comfortable with it and they are too. That's great. I think it would be awkward to go to an agency and be paired up with some kid you don't know.

    Remember when neighbors and communities just used to support each other informally? I often think about how things used to be, when you knew everyone on your block, and everyone had a role helping neighbors, and there were no papers to sign, you just got to know people and became friends and contributed in your own way. When I was a teenager, I tutored the kid next door in reading for a few years, and when I was in college I got to know a family from church and tutored their 7th grade son for a year. And when I was a kid and me and my friends would go out front and throw a football around, people's brothers and sisters and dads and moms and uncles used to come out and join us all the time, so we had adults we knew and trusted if we needed something.

    In some way I think that the way society has become with organizations and agencies overseeing and running everything, makes things harder instead of easier. Maybe these organizations protect kids more, but, maybe they don't (the abuse scandals always seem to be happening in organizations.)

    I also wanted to comment on the discussion about you not being out.

    Yeah, there are risks about not being out. But, if you live in a conservative community, its I guess considered more proper to just let it be "don't ask, don't tell." I know some teachers and youth workers from the older generation, who are obviously, obviously gay, but they never speak of it. They have been tolerated for 30+ years because they are good at their jobs, they have a lot of dignity, and they don't make waves. As a result, people don't criticize them, they just leave them alone. I don't really agree with having to live life so hidden, but, I guess I understand that it could possibly be easier that way.

    In New York State or the West Coast I don't think I'd feel the need to stay closeted. If I was one generation younger, I almost surely wouldn't be closeted to anyone. I'm in the in-between generation. I'm hoping the general mood changes even in rural America now that the military and Major League Baseball have made moves toward acceptance.

    Gay teachers, youth workers, and employees in general, have to come next in this long fight for acceptance. I think the statistic I saw recently was that 48% of all GLBT people are not out at work. So by not being out you're definitely not alone.

    I have been considering getting more involved in my community too. I also just moved and I've found a church that is gay accepting. So I'm thinking I might take my first steps getting involved through youth ministry or youth programs there. The entire organization is supportive, both locally and internationally, so I don't think I'll run into any problems being gay and out and doing that work. Kind of a fresh start maybe.

    Good luck!
  • comical44

    Posts: 723

    Nov 26, 2011 9:54 PM GMT
    @ cool army

    I kind of understand what your saying but im almost 100% positive he is being genuine...I think he kind of looks up to be to some extent. I think he generally just doesnt have a lot of older guys he can look up to. These 2 brothers have absolutely no family in the state so maybe they really just want an older male(big brother) type of role model to look up to and be around.

    Also I dont find it necessary to tell anyone at my work/these kids or anyone else about my orientation...Im not ashamed its just none of their business...down the road if its the right time then maybe but for now no.

    Everyone thanks for sharing your stories its really interesting to hear.
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    Nov 26, 2011 11:13 PM GMT
    I'm occasionally asked to get involved with teen activity groups in one way or another. I haven't for many years, mainly because I just don't have any spare time. But when I consider it, with the way things are these days, and the potential for "getting outed" in some flagrant manner, it usually seems like a good idea to arrange for two adults to be present at all times. For your protection and theirs. In the case of a group, I'd think that one of them might be a parent, but maybe not.

    I'm not sure how this would translate in your situation. Maybe just having one friend or another involved in a typical activity. One benefit to having a second adult present would be to demonstrate how adults (hypothetically) interact with one another. Just my $0.02.
  • comical44

    Posts: 723

    Nov 27, 2011 3:22 AM GMT
    mindgarden saidI'm occasionally asked to get involved with teen activity groups in one way or another. I haven't for many years, mainly because I just don't have any spare time. But when I consider it, with the way things are these days, and the potential for "getting outed" in some flagrant manner, it usually seems like a good idea to arrange for two adults to be present at all times. For your protection and theirs. In the case of a group, I'd think that one of them might be a parent, but maybe not.

    I'm not sure how this would translate in your situation. Maybe just having one friend or another involved in a typical activity. One benefit to having a second adult present would be to demonstrate how adults (hypothetically) interact with one another. Just my $0.02.


    Yea If I plan on doing something with them like the movies ect ect I will prob have a friend or family memeber go with me..it would be a good way for them to meet people close to me in my life as well and see how we interact with each other.
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    Nov 27, 2011 3:48 PM GMT
    OP: If you're around these people "on a daily basis" The Question is bound to come up at some point. You didn't mention the age of these kids. But it's a normal question to ask out of natural curiosity if someone you see all the time never seems to be with any one special person. If neither of the boys is eleven yet, the subject can probably be steered around. Much older than that, they're not going to let it go.

    For several years I was employed in a small family-owned business for a second job. The owners and I grew very close and remain good friends. When they hired one guy to help him in his successful rebound from addictions and bad choices, some adolescent boys (including two of his) ended up on the payroll too. They all were eager for what I guess you'd call more of a "male presence" in their lives. By that I mean they were looking for older men who were approachable and not Authority Figures. Everybody has that sort of need as they phase into physical maturity and adulthood is looming. The key thing to remember is that your "charges" are looking for guidance for themselves. Specific things about you are an afterthought and need not be brought up. Whenever a stereotypically gay person or couple patronized the business and the teens would start giggling, whispering "Look at the fags" or what have you, nobody got on a high horse. They would be told that everyone needs the products we sold, money's money no matter who hands it to you, people deserve basic respect, etc. It served no purpose to say to them, "I (or he) is gay. NOW are you laughing?" They still got the message, the same as during all the other "life lessons" and "teachable moments" that presented themselves.
    Key distinctions here: I was out to the business owners, who treated that basic fact about me as a non-issue. Left unstated was that they had my back in case anything negative came down. Also, the business - and the kids involved - were in a different city than the one where I live. Those guys and I never saw each other except during work hours.

    I guess the one thing that bugs me, OP, is - NOBODY knows your deal (or acknowledges that they do.) If you think the reaction of the adults will be less than positive, what's the advantage of not bringing it up now when it could come to light later? I've batted far less than 1.000 where outing myself and getting a good reaction is concerned. Friendships have died, somebody else scored living space in a cool house, a good job went to the next person on the candidate list, etc. Better that those things happened when they did instead of down the line. I'll always treasure when I suddenly became part of a role-modeling "village" to those teens. But the groundwork going in was laid differently.
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    Nov 27, 2011 4:06 PM GMT
    MuslNorganLikr saidOP: If you're around these people "on a daily basis" The Question is bound to come up at some point. You didn't mention the age of these kids. But it's a normal question to ask out of natural curiosity if someone you see all the time never seems to be with any one special person. If neither of the boys is eleven yet, the subject can probably be steered around. Much older than that, they're not going to let it go.

    For several years I was employed in a small family-owned business for a second job. The owners and I grew very close and remain good friends. When they hired one guy to help him in his successful rebound from addictions and bad choices, some adolescent boys (including two of his) ended up on the payroll too. They all were eager for what I guess you'd call more of a "male presence" in their lives. By that I mean they were looking for older men who were approachable and not Authority Figures. Everybody has that sort of need as they phase into physical maturity and adulthood is looming. The key thing to remember is that your "charges" are looking for guidance for themselves. Specific things about you are an afterthought and need not be brought up. Whenever a stereotypically gay person or couple patronized the business and the teens would start giggling, whispering "Look at the fags" or what have you, nobody got on a high horse. They would be told that everyone needs the products we sold, money's money no matter who hands it to you, people deserve basic respect, etc. It served no purpose to say to them, "I (or he) is gay. NOW are you laughing?" They still got the message, the same as during all the other "life lessons" and "teachable moments" that presented themselves.
    Key distinctions here: I was out to the business owners, who treated that basic fact about me as a non-issue. Left unstated was that they had my back in case anything negative came down. Also, the business - and the kids involved - were in a different city than the one where I live. Those guys and I never saw each other except during work hours.

    I guess the one thing that bugs me, OP, is - NOBODY knows your deal (or acknowledges that they do.) If you think the reaction of the adults will be less than positive, what's the advantage of not bringing it up now when it could come to light later? I've batted far less than 1.000 where outing myself and getting a good reaction is concerned. Friendships have died, somebody else scored living space in a cool house, a good job went to the next person on the candidate list, etc. Better that those things happened when they did instead of down the line. I'll always treasure when I suddenly became part of a role-modeling "village" to those teens. But the groundwork going in was laid differently.


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    Nov 27, 2011 4:06 PM GMT
    Not knowing much about the situation I would be EXTREMELY cautious about any opportunity for someone to claim any kind of inappropriateness. Not for a second suggesting you would do so, but with the rash of stuff like this going on, it appears that authorities will assume first that the person is telling the truth, and -- however it comes out -- it will be very damaging. I'm especially concerned because you mentioned being closeted. If it emerges later that you are gay (and as these kids get older they will inevitably be on social networking, etc., and find things out that you haven't told them) how is that going to affect their trust level with you, as well as their parents?

    The simple solution is that you should never be alone with one kid in a place where nobody else can see you. Visits should be with another adult or in a public location where your activities can be observed.

    Hate to be so cynical but I would hate to see you get burned, too.
  • vintovka

    Posts: 588

    Nov 27, 2011 4:17 PM GMT
    njmeanwhile saidNot knowing much about the situation I would be EXTREMELY cautious about any opportunity for someone to claim any kind of inappropriateness. Not for a second suggesting you would do so, but with the rash of stuff like this going on, it appears that authorities will assume first that the person is telling the truth, and -- however it comes out -- it will be very damaging. I'm especially concerned because you mentioned being closeted. If it emerges later that you are gay (and as these kids get older they will inevitably be on social networking, etc., and find things out that you haven't told them) how is that going to affect their trust level with you, as well as their parents?

    The simple solution is that you should never be alone with one kid in a place where nobody else can see you. Visits should be with another adult or in a public location where your activities can be observed.

    Hate to be so cynical but I would hate to see you get burned, too.



    ^^^^^THIS^^^^
    Also, and I hate to throw this out there--check your own head frequently! If you suspect for a moment that you have any "confused" emotions towards these boys, then don't do this. Also, if during the course of this experience you find you have any confusion as to what your role is here (a mentor is not a "buddy") have some resources lined up where you can turn for support and advice outside of an anonymous message board on the internet. These children are not there to fill your needs, you are there to look after theirs. If you get anything back in terms of altruistic satisfaction then that is an added bonus.
  • comical44

    Posts: 723

    Nov 27, 2011 9:15 PM GMT
    Thanks for the advice guys..I understand where I need to be cautious with them because in the past and at the moment their have been adults who take advantage of kids and their are some really bad people out there....Im not one of them...I truly want to help them and be there for them for support ect ect.