In Central all kids experience troubled times, some more serious than others. As mentoring is essential for children to grow and become mature adults, the question that may creep in your head is how to be a good mentor? There are some common traits found in a good mentor in Central Singapore.
A good mentor has faith in the child. He gives the child time to develop trust in them, and values their trust. He shows that he genuinely believes in the child, and that the child has the power to change and be who they want to be. He builds up trust with his mentee. It can sometimes take months for a child to open up in front of a stranger. A good mentor in Central shows that he enjoys spending time with the child, and tells them he’d like to help however he can. He starts by making sure that the child is at least on friendly terms with him, and talks to them about their mentoring experiences. He respects and practices confidentiality. He tells the child that everything is between the two of them, and that everything is confidential. He doesn’t disclose the child’s feelings, thoughts, or emotions to other people. He allows the child to handle conflicts on their own unless they ask for help.
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A good mentor is an active listener. Always smiling and positive, he treats the child as an individual. A good mentor listens with respect and understanding, and waits until the child has finished speaking. He shows an interest in whatever the child says by responding and asking open questions to get them to talk more. He lets the child talk for as long as they like. This helps the child in beginning to trust the mentor. A good mentor is genuine and doesn’t act like someone he’s not. He helps the child in critical-thinking and problem-solving. He shows that he genuinely enjoys spending time with the child, and affirms their feelings. He makes them believe that they are strong and will be able to get through it.
So much of how we see the world as adults is developed when we’re children—what we eat dictates what we like to eat as adults, what we hear molds into the languages we speak, the community in which we grow takes on a new name with new meaning: home. As we get older, travel can serve as a break from the comforts of home; experiences that are often so formative they become ingrained in our memory for decades to come. What happens, then, when you’re raised in a shifting environment in which travel is home? When “home,” as we know it, is but one of many, always temporary, stops on a rootless journey around the world?
Once limited to a tiny sliver of the global population—the children of missionaries, diplomats, and members of the military (the so-called “army brats”)—the subsection has expanded as global commerce has become the norm, to include kids brought up in countries that aren’t their own by multinational businesspeople, foreign correspondents, international school teachers, and more.
Ruth Van Reken, co-author of Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, sees the organic development of a TCK subculture as part of an innate desire to build likeminded community. “Every human being has a need to belong. We have to have some place that we know and are known,” she tells me in a conversation bridging the gap between interview and therapy session. Relating to others who have lived an uprooted and mobile life helps put things in perspective: It’s a crucial reminder that others have had the same privilege, but that they too face many of the same challenges.
Additionally, thrown out of one environment into a markedly different one, there never really is time to fully say goodbye to a world you’ve only just come to know. “When a child is leaving a place they really love and they’re not given the time to process it, it can feel like your whole world died.”
He tries to discuss the positive sides of tough situations without belittling the child’s emotions. He shares stories of his own experiences of how he got through tough situations to help the child understand they are not alone. He asks the child questions to get to know them better. He takes note of things the child is interested in. Active listening is a huge part of treating the child as an individual. He talks to them positively and commend them for sharing something that was difficult to say.
A good mentor encourages the child, provides them with resources, and celebrates their achievements. He focuses on the child’s goals, not their problems. He helps the child focus on their education, health and on their positive relationships. He finds ways to gradually get away from the child’s risky behavior. At ShutlerFitness when the child discusses one of their goals, whether small or big, a good mentor is supportive and helps them to focus on working toward their goal. He knows that children need to have goals in order to avoid risky behaviour. He uses short-term goals as a way to work towards their long-term goals, and shares ideas they may not have thought of on their own. If the child needs help finding other supportive services, he helps the child access resources they need. When the child reaches one of their goals, he tells them he is proud of them. He gives the child emotional motivation to keep going and helps them try to reach more goals. He holds them accountable for their actions so the child learns to take responsibility for themselves. He supports them throughout the process.
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A good mentor commits his time regularly for a long period. He arranges some schedule of appointments and keeps to it in Central. Mentor relations are most beneficial when they last for a long time. When he has a meeting with the child, he tries not to skip it under any circumstances. He becomes the person that the child can count on to follow through. A good mentor sets some realistic expectations. He talks to the child about their goals, and lets the child know that he believes they can do well. He makes it clear he expects the child to try to reach their goals, and helps them to succeed. He discusses with the child concrete ways they can do this. He asks open-ended questions, and why the child wants to achieve their goals and how they plan on doing it. He talks to the child about ways to manage their time. He shares mistakes he’s made and how he learned from them. Sharing his own experiences, he tells the child why he thinks they should or shouldn’t do something. He builds a solid relationship so that the child places trust in him. He communicates with the child on a regular basis so they can become more comfortable with him.
Raising children is not easy no matter what era. But more often than not, parents and their offspring debate on who had it easier when it comes to raising children. Baby Boomers talk about their old-school ways and convey a mixture of bragging with complaining about the smart home devices that today’s parents have at their disposal to help monitor and take care of their children. “Back in the day, we didn’t have those”, they say. But Millennials have a logical argument to counter: “back in the day” they had more help from their own parents, who – different from today - were, at large, retired already.
It’s that Agequake and the population pyramid problem we have already talked about. With the medical advances, humanity has achieved, we are living with quality longer, which makes us leave the workforce later, which, in turn, makes younger parents not able to resort to their parents for help with raising children. That might also be a contributing factor to the birth rate decrease over the last decades. It was so common to have 3 to 6 kids, and nowadays – due to the fast-paced life and impossible living costs - that idea is viewed as very unusual or almost frowned-upon. The general middle class can’t even picture it; it’s typically something that only the most financially privileged or the least educated really consider.
So the first undeniable premise is this: times have changed.
Private Schools, Charter Schools, Homeschooling… when it comes to the formal education of their kids, parents these days have all these alternatives to Public Schools which can be seen as a good thing older parents didn’t have. If their “values” weren’t represented in the schools available, they would have to work harder to make sure their kids would follow its preferred principles and would enforce that either in-person at home, or at churches etc.
But what about the number of hours and commitment students are required nowadays? It’s unprecedented. Back in the day, kids had much more free time to run around and play outside until the street lights came on. Parents didn’t have to worry so much about their safety because of several reasons: the streets were less crowded, which in turn made for fewer car accidents, child kidnapping, and other hazards. It was easier for one neighbor to keep an eye on everyone, freeing parents to do their own thing. Nowadays, parenting is a non-stop activity that will cost money if you want your kid’s development to have some independence from you – and, as we all know, money is something Millennials don’t have a lot of. Not only the costs of many after-school activities but the time it takes for one to pick their kids up from school and drive them to the places where these activities happen can be brutal.
And what about the psychological aspects of parenting today compared with some time ago? While social media is yet another thing for people to worry about when it comes to raising their children, this culture of fear is nothing new and one could argue that it was much worse back then. The Cold War presented a never-ending prospect of imminent annihilation by way of nuclear explosions. Kids went through nuclear explosions drills at school. But well, we guess this one was replaced by the dangers of school shootings – a reality that, sadly, happens much more often than yesterday’s nuclear threat.
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With all of that, there are some things where it’s undeniable where one might have had it harder than the other. Special Needs Children, for instance. Just so you understand the drama: “back in the day” there wasn’t even this denomination for the condition. Baby Boomers parents were trailblazers when it comes to special needs parenting and we owe them all the advancements hard-won by their struggle, whether active or inert, through love or pain, by trial and error.
It’s not fair to say that current parents “have it easy”, though. Children on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) need safer homes still, there are a lot of things we as a society need to do better when it comes to dealing with special needs children and adults. But, yes, a parent bringing a special needs children to the world right now has many more resources, support and an overall understanding of what awaits them. Special needs parenting is never easy, but it was much harder than it is today and we hope 10 years from now, special needs parenting gets even less hard.
What is good parenting?
All of those questions of who had it harder when it comes to raising children poses the question of what is good parenting in the first place.
Independent from the time in which the act of parenting is inserted, good parenting is allowing your child his/her individuality making sure he/she doesn’t fall on too traumatic traps and unredeemable precipices. Good parenting is being present without suffocating. It’s providing all the tools the child needs to develop their best self while on his/her own. So it’s a difficult measure, really. You can’t be too controlling, otherwise the kid will grow up to be a repressed adult, but you can’t be too liberal, otherwise, your kid will grow up with no boundaries and respect for others. You can’t be too giving, otherwise the kid will grow up to be an adult who waits for things to fall on their lap, and you can’t just throw your kids out there with no support, otherwise they will grow up to be not only psychologically damaged but way behind anyone else in the “race for success”.
And that takes a lot of time and effort and can be an enormous burden. That’s why the joys of parenting are so big; otherwise, no one would go through it. Through hits and misses, it’s important for parents to have empathy and support. From family, from friends, and even strangers. Western society can be cruel regarding empathy. How many times have strangers reprimanded parents regarding their children's behavior in a rude way? Even if they think they’re not intruding with a simple “Why don’t you try X?”, when a baby is crying, for instance. Strangers don’t have the big picture of what’s behind that cry. Is it a new tooth? A fever? Or maybe it’s nothing - babies cry; it’s how they express themselves! And the parents might not have had anyone to drop the kid off with (or didn’t have the confidence to do so), and it’s their anniversary or the only time they could manage to have some time together, and there you are annoyed because the baby is taking a little longer than you’d like to get quiet. It can be disturbing at times but we have to do better when it comes to those interactions and find a nice way to intervene – if we really can’t hold it in to ourselves and let it slide; in 30 minutes (or even less) the kid will be an annoying memory, while the parent will still have to deal with the kid and the difficulties of raising children.
If you have passed through that and you think it wasn’t that difficult: good for you; you are blessed! Check your privileges and feel empathy for the ones who have difficulties with it. How do you feel when someone diminishes the difficulty you have with the things you are not good at?
In conclusion, just like there is no formula to answer what is good parenting, there is no answer to who had it easier raising children. As much empathy as we can feel for others, no drama is as dramatic as our own because only we feel it in our skin. And that’s the beauty of empathy, actually. Humans are the only animals who can feel it and decide to act (or not) on it, in a way that even feeling so much for ourselves, we have the nobility of being understanding of others’ struggles to the point that we, sometimes, even put their needs in front of ours. Which is, come to think about, is, in fact, a piece of sound advice for people wanting to understand what is good parenting: raising children right it’s all about putting your kids need in front of your own.
In Central a good mentor really thinks about why he wants to be a mentor. He really needs to be clear for himself on whether he has the time, patience, commitment and maturity required. He must honestly evaluate himself on whether there is a good enough reason or not. He gets his own training and support. Having his own support team and sources of information is very important for being a good mentor. He should regularly talks to other mentors who have experience in dealing with children personal issues. As a mentor its he must document and follow a mentoring plan. He should identify the purpose of his mentoring relationship and the course of mentoring he’d like to put in place. Shutlerfitness allows for brainstorms potential activities and discussions.
Finally, he should stay committed to his mentoring relationship with the child.
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