1.12.2011

Mentoring Mothers: What it Means to Mentor

Our Mentoring Mothers group is back in action!  And I don't know about the other ladies, but for me it was a great uplift and gave me the exact recharge I needed!!

We are still discussing the Love of Learning phase, for us and our children.  I had many things on the agenda, but we ended up using the whole two hours on just learning and discussing what it really means to MENTOR (rather than nagging our children as mothers are so good at doing!).  :-) Most of what we discussed is in Leadership Education by the DeMilles.  I'll try to sum it all up as best I can (but if you really want to be recharged, the meetings are so much better!).

"There is nothing more challenging in the entire educational world than an excellent Love of Learning Phase.  Day in and day out, week after week and year after year, the parent-teacher's role is to inspire the child to happily, consistently and unswervingly study, learn, search, discover, enlighten, know and apply." - - Leadership Education, p. 86

There are 6 "How To's" of Mentoring
1. Use the Classics - we tied this in a bit with the current events "how to" (#4) in how using the classics and history to prepare our children for disasterous or violent things that may happen in our current society.  If we are well-versed in the Classics and our children are familiar with them, it's easier to relate to the events that may be occuring at the present time. 

2. Personalize - We talked extensively about this one!  Sometimes, especially with multiple children and only so much time & energy as a mother/mentor, it is hard to figure out HOW to completely personalize our child's education.  Some ideas we came up with were: 

 - Holding a quality FEC & personal interviews with each child  (this seemed to be #1)
        Of this the DeMilles say, "We discuss the children individually . . . concerns, needs, opportunities, problems, struggles, hopes, fears, doubts, talents, any particular impressions one of us may have regarding them, etc....This is the first and most important step to mentoring a child in any phase (p. 64)."
      
     We also talked about how this doesn't always have to be the formal sit down setting.  One family hold their "meetings" on the parents' bed because it's comfortable and informal feeling.  One father prefers to hold the interviews on an as needed basis while doing other things with an individual child, rather than as a sit down personal interview.  There are ways to make FEC and personal interviews work for YOUR family... it just important to make it happen...consistantly. And sometimes all this means is giving them a chance to talk and knowing you will listen! 

 - Knowing your children - who they are and what they can do
 - Looking at the Adult Skills list in the Home Compaion to see what each child needs
 - Sometimes is requires dropping what you're doing & to get involved with them.  One mother said, "I chose this life."  In other words, it's okay and necessary to put other things on hold to devote to what I have chosen to do, which is being a mother and a mentor for my children. 

3. Keep it Simple - Stick to the basics!  Read, discuss, & write.  One example I think of is my friend, the author of Frolic & Farce .  She covers so much, but keeps it basic and simple...with lots and lots of reading!  We also mentioned the need to be aware of your family rhythms.  Is it a moment for a long, drawn out mini-unit?  Or do we all just need to veg in front of a great classic movie for the afternoon?  We need to be flexible and aware of our family needs rather than sticking strictly to the schedule Mom has in her mind!  :-)

4. Apply lessons to life  (we discussed this along with classics) - We also talked a little bit about being involved in the Great Debate and discussing ideas and current event issues with our children. 

5. Only Accept Quality Work - HOW do you do this (without the nagging and pulling out your hair)?!?
     First - it starts with chores.  Hopefully, simply by saying, "Not good enough, do it again" will sink in one day and they'll realize they will have more time to play if they do it right the first time.  I realized after the discussion that I need to expect more quality work from myself.  Sometimes I do my chores to the "just good enough" stage. 
     Second - This also relates to character building.  We expect quality in characteristics, not just external work.
    Third - often times we need to show them what quality really is, not just expect them to already know.
    Fourth - it's okay to let them fail to discover quality work for themselves.  One mother shared how her daughter started to care about her work when she realized her friends couldn't read her writing. 

6. Set the Example - Involve the children in what MOM is doing, learning, planning, preparing.  Children need to know their opinions matter.  They need to know that their mentor thinks they are capable of doing the things the mentor is currently working on.  Involve your kids in your church lessons, the cooking, your blog posts, your life!  Let them know you want them to be a part of it.  We talked about how making our children feel needed boosts their confidence and gives them that sense of longing to be scholars.  Talk that came up during this discussion was Elder Perry's, "Mothers Teaching Children in the Home" (April 2010).

Here are some of the things we do to be better mentors:
* Seek time with our higher source, alone and prayerful each day
* Getting up early in the morning before the children to center ourselves
* During that time, write inspired thoughts on sticky notes to post where you can see them and be reminded of what you need to do that day/week/month
* Bedtime self-control! 
* Prioritize and lessen the guilt;  clear our plate to devote specific time to our children (i.e. don't give them an assignment and then run to get our stuff done)
* Be aware of our own attitude and reactions throughout the day
*  LOVE - think more of their needs rather than our wants

One Concluding Thought
The overall theme of the day, for me anyway, was that we need to make it a priority to mentor & to focus our energies on what we have chosen to do in our lives.  In doing that we need to free our lives of things that can be put on hold.  We can evaluate what is taking up most of our time and how we can better manage those demands on our time. 

The DeMilles put it nicely, "It is important to have an over-arching view of what you value and how you want to spend your time."  If we can do that on a daily basis, put our values and vision first, we can be successful Mentoring Mothers! 

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