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Knowledge Share #3:Mentoring Empowers Teen Moms


Knowledge Share: Experiences & Resources from Hope House Staff - See more at: http://www.hopehouseofcolorado.org/index.cfm/id/71/bid/1027#sthash.aCMtUnFe.dpuf
Knowledge Share: Experiences & Resources from Hope House Staff - See more at: http://www.hopehouseofcolorado.org/index.cfm/id/71/bid/1027#sthash.aCMtUnFe.dpuf

Sarah Landis, Hope House Program Staff

Mentoring can happen in many ways and make a real difference. Whether it’s informally playing basketball with a neighborhood kid at the local rec center or finding an organization to volunteer for, it can be an effective method for connecting with a younger generation.

At Hope House, our Mentoring Program is strategic and intentional. First, we are diligent in who we match as a mentor to the teen moms we serve. Our subsequent training includes an overview of common dynamics found in generational poverty, scenarios mentors may come across when working with our teen moms and the typical phases of a mentoring relationship.

The following is an in-depth look at what is covered in our mentor training.

GENERATIONAL POVERTY

The majority of youth in mentoring programs in the U.S. come from a documented cycle known as Generational Poverty. This term was coined by Dr. Ruby Payne in Bridges Out of Poverty and refers to families that have lived in poverty for at least two generations. Payne discusses the hidden rules among today’s social classes and how they affect those struggling to become self-sufficient and independent of government assistance. Payne has also created a chart that is an effective tool for outlining the stark differences between poverty, middle class, and wealth.

The vast majority of our teen moms were born into generational poverty, and that is where they are most comfortable. There are several problems associated with this type of complacency -- especially since our society operates according to the middle class mind set.

We do not expect our teen moms to completely switch from the poverty mindset to the middle class mindset; instead we help them become bilingual in both social class languages. Their families will most likely remain in poverty, but if our teen moms are going to reach self-sufficiency, they must learn to understand middle class thinking.

This is where our mentors come in. We train them on the hidden rules of social classes so they can strategically work with their teen mom and show them how the middle class works. Most of our girls feel like they are born into a caste system they cannot escape. Our mentors show them that a middle class life is obtainable.

POTENTIAL SCENARIOS

During training we initially discuss potential situations our mentors may come across, and we ask them how they would handle each scenario. This exercise is always thought provoking because it illuminates circumstances that are outside of the norm for most of our mentors.

An example of a possible scenario follows: You have been meeting with your teen mom for about three months, and she has been taking steps towards self-sufficiency. The relationship was going well, but over the last few weeks she has stopped meeting with you on a regular basis. After three weeks of no contact, you finally hear from her and she wants you to give her a ride. What do you do?

After going over the scenarios, we have found it’s important to empower our mentors by encouraging their ideas on how they would handle themselves in such situations. There are no black and white answers, but it is helpful to point out the best way to handle certain scenarios during training instead of waiting until it’s an actual issue. Knowledge is power when it comes to preparing mentors for unforeseen circumstances.

MENTORING PHASES

It is also imperative to point out the typical phases of a mentoring relationship. As a mentor, it will seem like a roller coaster ride at times, especially when dealing with a teenager. The phases we refer to are adapted from Growth Cycles of a Match by Big Brothers and Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities.

At the beginning of the relationship, we stress to our mentors that it is important to follow through with scheduled meetings, be willing to listen, be as non-judgmental as possible, and be reasonably open and honest.

The second phase involves building trust, achieved by being patient and reliable, expecting setbacks, and showing your teen mom you you believe in her.

The third phase is probably the hardest because it focuses on testing the relationship. The teen mom will most likely push back at some point because she is starting to trust, which is often frightening for her as she considers opening up to another person. There is bound to be resistance, but the mentor should not take it personally; instead the mentor should reinforce limits, continue to treat the teen mom with respect, and never stop encouraging her to succeed.

The fourth and final step is what I call the bittersweet phase. This is where independence increases, which is exciting because that means the mentor is succeeding. However, it can also be difficult because the teen mom may not need the mentor’s guidance as much at this point. I always encourage our mentors to continue supporting their teen mom and offering direction when necessary.

This is the ideal way to naturally end an official mentoring relationship; by this time, the teen mom has likely become like extended family to the mentor and therefore their time together will most likely never truly be over. The relationship truly can have a lifelong impact.

 


 

“Bringing out the Best in Ourselves”

Leslie is a Hope House mentor who earned her teen mom’s trust by offering Cheri consistency and nonjudgmental support throughout their growing relationship.

“I thought that mentoring would be a great way to be able to give back to young women (and help them) to achieve their personal goals,” says Leslie.

Leslie also understands both the challenges and the rewards of wading into a disadvantaged teen mom’s life.

“The worlds we are from are so different, anything from booking a plane ticket to filling out an application can really throw her off course, and I don't know how to navigate the TANF system or buy food using WIC” says Leslie. “But we've fallen into a great relationship where we help each other understand each other’s lives and help one another bring out the best in ourselves.”

Leslie’s insight speaks to a primary goal of our mentoring program, where both parties stretch, grow and are ultimately blessed.

 

 

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Blog Archives

September 2017

Knowledge Share #18: Engaging the Millennial Generation - 09/19/2017


August 2017

Knowledge Share #17: When the Dream Seems Too Big - 08/17/2017


July 2017

Knowledge Share #16: Personalized Learning - The Cornerstone of our GED Program - 07/18/2017


June 2017

Knowledge Share #15: Special Needs and Special Moms - 06/08/2017


April 2017

Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children - 04/18/2017


March 2017

Knowledge Share #13: Managing Volunteers: Benjamin Franklin had it right! - 03/13/2017


February 2017

Knowledge Share #12: Advocacy and Self-Sufficiency: Finding the Balance - 02/14/2017


January 2017

Knowledge Share #11: Effective PR and Spot On Communications - 01/18/2017


November 2016

Knowledge Share #10: I Walk the Line: Creating Deep Connections While Maintaining Professional Boundaries - 11/15/2016


September 2016

Knowledge Share #9: "Fundraising for Non-Profits: An Insider's Perspective" - 09/22/2016


August 2016

Knowledge Share #8: Breaking Out of Poverty - 08/18/2016


July 2016

Knowledge Share #7: Creating a Home - 07/11/2016


June 2016

Knowledge Share #6: The Power of Mindset - 06/14/2016


May 2016

Knowledge Share #5: College or Bust! - 05/17/2016


April 2016

Knowledge Share #4:Understanding Addiction - 04/07/2016


March 2016

Knowledge Share #3:Mentoring Empowers Teen Moms - 03/21/2016


February 2016

Knowledge Share #2: Healthy Relationships - 02/11/2016


January 2016

Knowledge Share #1: Brain Development - 01/12/2016


December 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #8: Communicating the Barriers - 12/16/2015


October 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #7: Homelessness - 10/09/2015


July 2015

TEEN MOM BARRIER #6: GENERATIONAL POVERTY - 07/16/2015


June 2015

Teen Mom Barrier Number #5: Domestic Violence - 06/03/2015


May 2015

Teen Mom Barrier # 4 The Challenges of College - 05/12/2015


April 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #3: The Unexpected Bill: Car Repair, Doctor's Visit, Broken Pipe - 04/03/2015


February 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #2: Childcare - 02/18/2015


January 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #1: Society's Negative Expectations - 01/26/2015


December 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #7: Teen Moms Are Completely Self-Absorbed - 12/29/2014


October 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #6: Teen moms drop out of school because they want to - 10/31/2014


September 2014

Teen Mom Misconceptions #5: Success is Impossible - 09/22/2014


July 2014

Misconception #4: Shaming Teen Moms is an Effective Approach - 07/22/2014


June 2014

Misconception #3: Mentoring Teen Moms is Complicated - 06/05/2014


May 2014

Because they want someone to love them? - 05/21/2014


April 2014

Teen Moms - A Persecuted Population? - 04/22/2014


March 2014

Connecting across the Continents: Teen Moms and the People Who Love Them - 03/18/2014


February 2014

Can you break out of poverty with a vocabulary of just 900 words? - 02/17/2014


January 2014

Community - 01/20/2014


December 2013

8 Pennies - 12/18/2013


November 2013

"The most courageous young women I know." - 11/14/2013


September 2013

Our Graduates: In their hands, they hold the future! - 09/30/2013


August 2013

The Cliff Effect and Other Perils on the Journey to Self-Sufficiency - 08/30/2013


July 2013

Breaking the Cycle: Do Poor Teens Have to Become Poor Adults? - 07/30/2013


June 2013

Measuring the Intangible - 06/15/2013


May 2013

Grown-Up Mom - 05/01/2013


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