Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mentor a Bright Boy

Among the most beneficial ways to volunteer is to mentor a bright boy.

Endless programs exist to mentor and otherwise help girls and women, far fewer for boys, even though boys' school and life performance, relative to girls, has so declined in recent decades. For example, in 1980, the ratio of college graduates was 50/50. Now it's approaching 40% male, 60% female.

I advocate helping bright boys rather than boys in general because the public schools are now so focused on helping the lowest achievers that bright kids' great potential is so often being wasted. They're forced to sit stultified and if they can't, they're too often put on a Ritalin leash.

How you mentor can vary. For example, you could do a recreational activity together: build a model, play basketball with him, whatever. In the process, bring up topics that might help him identify interests, reveal problems, come up with questions to ask you. You could meet once a week or once a month, or not meet at all--mentorship by phone and email counts.

To find a bright boy who could use a mentor, contact the counselor at a local school, the gifted child coordinator in your school district, the principal of your church or synagogue's Sunday School, or simply ask your friends or PTA members.


Anonymous said...

I already know of such a boy, and I don't know how to help him. I never have. At this point in his life, he needs a lot more help than what you suggest.

It's my nephew, who will be 16 next month. Years ago, he was tested as being highly intelligent, but also having a learning disability. He also was sexually abused at the age of 7, by an 11-year-old boy who was abused himself.

His mother, my older sister, has done little or nothing to help him. She has severe problems herself, and she's never listened to my concerns or the concerns & advice of others close to them both. Now mother and son are falling apart, and this would not have happened if either of them gave basic discipline a chance.

I always thought that he, and my other nephews for that matter, should not have been born, not because of who they are, but because my sisters and the boys' fathers, in my opinion, have no business being parents. But it's too late for that now.

My other nephews have my father, their grandfather, to help them, so I'm not as concerned about them. For better or for worse, they have a male role model, nor did they have childhoods as challenging. But the 16-year-old does not have that stable role model, and all of his talents have gone to waste. Meanwhile, his violent streak has grown and is getting worse.

If somebody knew how to really help him when he was younger, he would be a different teenager now. It's probably not too late, but very soon, it will be.

Maureen said...

Yikes! It's never too late! If it were, guys wouldn't come out of prison changed men. But they do -- all the time. You say you don't know how to help him. Reach out any way you can -- call, email, text, visit. Look at the violence as a cry for help. Maybe he just needs to know someone cares. After barely speaking two words to each other at family reunions, my nephew and I have made contact and it has changed both our lives. Recently, a young woman told me her story: 3 years before, when she was in prison, a social worker told her her phone number. It took 2 years for the girl to finally make the call. When she got out of prison, she went into a drug tx program and has been clean for a year. She remembered the number for 2 years! You never know what little bit you do does for people. It is like giving away a dime and it becomes a dollar. You cared enough to post a comment -- take the next step.


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