Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mentoring


There seems to be a big to-do lately about Lunch Buddy and Mentorship programs. Obviously this is a feel good thing that was created to hopefully change the lives of at-risk children. I’m not so sure it is a good thing.

When I was a kid I would have been very suspicious and resentful of this arranged marriage had I been forced into a relationship such as this. Adults should not force themselves upon children or even assume children want an adult to hang out with. When I wanted information from an adult I would seek them out. When I wanted to learn about sign painting as a kid I visited the shop of a sign painter and I learned a lot. When I was curious about electronics I inserted myself into a ham radio crowd. When I wanted to learn about agriculture I took a job at a farm.

I know the Lunch Buddy Program came about because some kids don’t fit in with the crowd and it is an attempt to make them feel special, but what is being overlooked is that kids interacting with kids in positive or negative ways is a life-long lesson. This is the time and the place where kids learn how to avoid the bullies, how to make friends, how it feels when you are stabbed in the back and how to detect when someone is going to mess with you. Kid at this age learn how to deal with future bosses and employees. They learn how to lead, they learn how to follow, they learn how to succeed and they learn how to fail. These lessons will be carried with them for their entire life. Though the present politically correctness says that everyone is a winner and everyone gets the ribbon, that’s not how life works out. Kids need to learn from reality be it pain or joy.

Kids need to learn the skills to work things out for themselves. Kids need to find their own way. When they find a natural interest in something they will find the information. Kids are resourceful. Just because you are a professional and it feels good to volunteer time with children, realize that you are in an unnatural relationship. I’m sure you find your profession very interesting, but don’t try to guide a child in that direction if they showed no interest of aptitude for it up front. Kids should be kids not victims of recruitment. Kids should hang out with kids and seek out adult mentors on their own terms.

And for you folks that home school, if you think you are preparing your children for the future by protecting them in the present, think again. They are going to get an ass kicking in the real world that they never knew was coming because their sheltering prevented them from learning valuable social skills when they were young.

33 Comments:

Blogger Auntie said...

Wow, evidently "Guy" is back.

5:36 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

Pretty fancy soapbox you got there. Make it yourself? (grin)
But I do agree with you 100%. School and interaction with other children is important for emotional and social development. If you take that interaction away you risk raising social dwarves. My wife is home schooling someone else's kid. He's going through high school right now and is a professional rodeo rider and barrel racer and spends so much time on the road that he couldn't pass in public school. That's the only reason I agreed to it. I don't believe in home schooling in most cases.

Auntie's right. It's good to see you in full swing again.

6:55 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Ok, now you have irritated me. I helped start the lunch buddy program here several years ago. I don't know if you ever read a post on my blog a few years ago describing one of my lunch buddies. I have seen the success of the program first hand and have seen failures also. No program is perfect, however, I feel that it is a positive experience for the child. As a lunch buddy, I don't go to the school and tell the child what to do. I am simply there to have lunch with him and join him and his friends at recess. I am there to encourage him. Many teachers have commented how they have seen a change in the buddy I was paired up with. Many of the children in the program are from single parent homes and just need a role model of their own gender that they can interact with. It is a healthy relationship, showing a kid that people actually care about them goes a long way. Some day I will introduce you to my lunch buddy from several years ago. I will have him explain what it did for him.

I have kept quiet about your rants about United Way, but I won't let this one go without a fight.

9:43 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Auntie, don't get used to it. I'm tired of being pissed off at stuff.

Darev, Rodeo student? Shoot he don't need no education, just a helmet.

Jeff, I know in these politically correct times it feels good for an adult to inflict a positive image on a child, but what is really happening is that the nature of childhood is being disrupted. First the kid is being singled out as someone that doesn't fit in with kids of his age, they they get an old coot strapped to them, (anyone over 20 is an old coot to them). You might as well tape a sign to their backs that say "Kick me because I am socially inept and my profile will be on all the internet dating sites as soon as I get into high school, unless all the kids that see me eating lunch with an adult that I don't even know kick mys ass for being a douche and further erode any self esteem I once had."

In other words, when we train horses, we let the young horses learn how to be horses first before we interfere. Parents and teachers are more than enough influence to screw kids up without forcing mentorship and eating companions on them. Think how bad your ass would have been kicked had you suffered through one of these arranged marriages when you were a kid.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

damn, who pissed in your Wheaties this morning???

Your ever loving Pam...

11:17 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

You are not only there with the 1 child exclusively, you are interacting with all of the kids. They love nothing more than beating a "big kid" like me at foursquare or wall ball. Labels are not put on these kids, by participating with all of the kids it helps with the social interaction. The one thing I have noticed while being a lunch buddy, I never saw one kid playing by themselves. Everyone had a peer group that they were in.

Adults should take time to interact with children in the schools. It does make a difference.

11:25 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

And you are right to not want to get me going on the United Way and how much of the burden they place upon the County and State resources to do all the clerical and organizing tasks for them, while they get to keep 14% of every donated dollar and still pay their local managers six figured salaries. Instead of the new AG spending all his time fighting LNG he should be investigating United Way and why so many tax dollars are being given to that dirty rat bastard organization.

11:26 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Some kids want to be loaners. Your interactions are stifling an entire generation of anonymous bloggers. Oh the humanity...

11:29 AM  
Blogger Uncle Walt said...

I think you mean "loners", guy. A "loaner" is something I let someone borrow. LOL

btw - when I was growing up, we had this thing called the "Scouts" that worked much better than these "lunch buddy" programs.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So...what's the alternative? Letting a kid from a fatherless home whose mom works all day drift along without any positive adult guidance, get "socialized" in with the other kids who have similar home situations....start experimenting with drugs, running around causing trouble....? Which is exactly what happens to these kids. I did have a friend who was a "Big Brother" to a pre-teen boy and had a very positive influence on his growth. I say "Good job!" to those adults out there who care enough to make a difference! There ARE kids out there who need it.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

Guy, who pooped in your Cheerios? I homeschool Eldest, because that's the way she enjoys learning, but ask anyone (Auntie, are you out there?) this is not a sheltered nor socially backward child, at all. I don't homeschool her to protect her from anything, in fact, we hide little from our kids. She has scouts, a difficult child that does day care over here every day (who, by the way, got a mentor whom she adores and has been great for her, as she has no mother).

Though my middle child attends Star, and that's a perfect fit for her, the en masse school system is not a one size fits all proposition. That "toss them into the pit and they'll learn from what happens naturally" is what got us Columbine and a host of other school shootings. Sure, it's one thing to wax nostalgic about how we were tortured by bullies and beaned with dodgeballs and how we're so much better for it, but assuming everyone else will be is rubbish. Eric Harris and Dylan Kliebold would have been much better off in a smaller, more receptive school environment or at home.

At the same time, it's not really fair for me to send Eldest to either redo her grade over again, because she's done with it, or to put her up with much older kids so she can work at her level.

Yes, socialization is important, however, suggesting that the school is the most ideal or even the only place for that to happen is absurd. True, there are homeschool families that are isolationist in nature, but the ones I know go out of their way to make sure their kids are in Scouts or dance, or this club or that, community theater or just at the park or meeting up with friends. I've heard the stuff my day care charge learns at school, and trust me, it's overrated.

So, as much as I like you, shame on you, Guy! Kids who hang out with kids and seek mentors on their own terms typically end up like Lord of the Flies and woe be to you if you're unfortunate enough to be the Piggy of the group.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous CB said...

Ewwwwkay, man its been awhile since we put on the gloves.

I dare absolutely anyone to go one round with my homeschooled pack. You are right, I was protecting them, from the lecherous teachers I went to school with. Did that make them more vulnerable to predators? Given that the only time they were attacked was before school age, I don't think so. Given that now I trust them to take on absolutely anyone in this county, and three have taken on whatshisname and whooped his ass, and I think the only disservice I did by homeschooling was they weren't there in high school to kick some more ass. Instead they were already in college, on their way to their degrees, Or maybe that was when they were in Novasibersk learning to live in a culture w/o knowing the language. Or was that when they were in Belize rebuilding after the hurricane, no it must have been when they were in the Dominican Republic teaching English.

Ah, you're right, they are a bunch of sheltered pussies that will never come out of their shells.

Mentoring is unnatural? WTF? What tribe were you raised in? SCHOOL is unnatural. Sticking a bunch of people, all the same age, in one space is about as artificial as you can get. Mentoring is about as close as our society is going to get to "natural" as long as we have the outdated system of education we are presently stuck with. Maybe in the '60s having a mentor labeled you but are you talking as someone who has recently talked to one of these kids who are in the program? They really love it. The yesterlore of grandparents and closeknit circle of aunties and uncles is gone. These mentors fill in a gaping hole that is desperately needed in many, many young lives.

Ding, ding. Damn, broke a nail.

3:38 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Darev, Auntie corrected me over lunch on the spelling as well.

For the rest of the comments, think back to when you were kids. Did you have more fun when you were hanging around with kids doing kid things or did you have more fun when doing adult accepted arranged activities? Personally I had a lot more fun skinny dipping in the river, lighting fireworks, building tree forts, telling dirty jokes, swearing, smoking, and when I was old enough experimenting with drugs, having girlfriends, drinking...living a life that gave me more fond memories than I would have had if all my activities been arranged adult supervised play dates and acceptable social activities. Sure some kids don't survive this sort of childhood, but those of us that did learned a hell of a lot.

It's funny all the flack the Ramseys got when they dressed their girl up in make-up and made her parade around like an adult beauty queen, and aren't adults trying desperately to do the same to their kids morally by making them behave like adults in all social situations? Let them be kids and get in trouble. How boring!

3:52 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Oops, I meant Walt for correcting the spelling, not Darev.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

Damn, I'm glad I don't carry all of the baggage, scars and wounds that the Catholic superstition inflicts.
I, having been properly raised in the prodastant faith, relish all of the fine examples set before me.
For example, I spent every summer on the Olympic Penninsula with my beer drinking, hell raising, motorcycle racing, adult step-relitives beggining at the age of 12.
There, I had an unlimited, daily supply of booze, cigs, motorcycles; Oh, please don't tarnish the fine memories!!!!
Oh yeah, half of them were 7th day adventists, the other half Jehovah's witnesses.
Why would I want to spend time with snot-nose kids when I had such a treasure trove of variety with my adult drinking buddies?
Did I mention that I earned BIG BUCKS every summer doing odd jobs around the mills?
Screw climbing trees and frogs.
I'm enjoying that stuff in my old age......

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lunch buddy is a program to make the adult feel good.
The program puts a spotlight on the kid "who has no friends".
Plus they want money donated to the program.
I'm not keen on home schooling, some parents have success, some don't. Some home school do it for themselves to feel good.
Kids need to be in a class room, (reality)

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Ginger said...

Man...Guy,I see what you are saying...I sense the flavor of your intentions...but there is so much more to it. When you take a colt in w/ the big horses...they have NOT already been beaten, psychologically tortured, starved, or abandoned (just a few things some kids have experienced). Yes, they (horses) are schooled by the herd, and tend to "get it" and follow along. Plus, they are horses...dogs are the same way...w/a limited amount of intelligence(don't get me wrong, I use the "In Nature" analogy when it comes to our society and how we have created a more permissive "sheltered" way of treating those who "break the rules" ..in nature, if there's something "wrong" w/a baby...the mother will instinctively eat it or drag it up to the road to be hit by a truck.)

I give kids a bit more credit. They are sponges who take EVERYTHING in and from that, form their own personality/opinions...not in all cases, but most. Kids need nurturing and a sense that SOMEONE cares. My husband and I are usually one of the few parents who go to away games...if we are late or I am sick and can't go...they are asking where we are. I didn't realize how much they (most on the team)like us to be there to cheer them on :) I think that kids need their space to grow and learn on their own...but they also need someone plugged in, asking them about their day, how they feel about things, and giving them a positive role model....SOMEONE to set a good example. Parents these days are working hard to keep food on the table, sadly limiting involvement w/ their kids...some are not even TRYING to put food on the table...either way, these kids are usually the ones who suffer and stereo typically clog our jails...not in all cases...but you know what I mean. In short, one person CAN make a difference in a kids life.

4:46 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Funny story, my wife's eldest son had a friend that was here as an exchange student. He returned to Belgium so we figured we'd send the eldest over to visit him, so we got the money together and schooled him in the ways of travel and showed him a bunch of cool things that he could do while over there, Rail pass, museums, relatives to visit and their addresses.

When he returned we wanted to hear about all his adventures, and he honestly told us that everyday they partied, drank beer and played video games all night and slept all day. Here my wife expected him to do what she would have and instead he did what 17 year olds do naturally.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Auntie said...

I don't know about "mentoring" but I do have to pick a fight with you homeschooling. I think many years ago homeschooling was used to keep ones kids from being influenced by external forces (other kids and the outside world), but I know several people who homeschool these days and its about choosing the best way to facilitate learning to a child and ensuring that they are challenging their brains to their potential. One mom that we both know homeschools and her kids are some of the most well socialized kids I know. And they have plenty of "kid" time with other kids, even thought they don't go to traditional school.

Its about parenting taken one step further into the realm of "teaching" classroom topics as well as the day to day stuff we impart on our kids just by virtue of being parents.

Okay, I'm done. Have at it.

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy crap Guy! Have you been reading up on how to make friends and influence people?? Sure shakes the lurkers out of the woodwork though eh?? I do have an opinion but in this case, I will adhere to the old adage of better to be thought a fool by keeping my mouth shut than to open it and remove all doubt...

Moose

7:19 PM  
Blogger g said...

i'm waiting for your dissertation on the holocaust before i make judgement.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Auntie said...

Crap, g. Now you've given him another topic.

10:34 PM  
Blogger richpix said...

Guy, your lack of empathy and compassion astounds me. I'm guessing you grew up with a fairly normal family situation with ma and pa around all the time to act as positive role models. Many are not so fortunate, even if they have both parents at home. Assuming they will find these positive role models on their own is leaving a lot up to fate. They're just as likely to fall in with the wrong crowd or just plain miss opportunities if they don't have someone to point them in the right direction.

1:25 AM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

On the mentoring issue, I watch a child who has no mother (the mother was on meth, with an abusive string of boyfriends and lost custody forever). She has gotten her mentor and while the mentor may feel good for all the things she's done for this girl, I can tell you first hand that the girl loves every bit of it. They've gone to the movies. They're starting a scrapbook. They baked a gigantic chocolate chip cookie. She's having a blast. If you personally know of a child who feels spotlighted by a mentor, please share. Otherwise, it's just a theory.

3:02 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

You got zapped on this post. But you handled it well.

4:43 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

So in your perfect world (those that don't agree with me) where can a child go to get away from adults? Where can a home schooler go to get away from their teacher? I've had teachers that I couldn't stand and I knew that if I waited long enough the year would be over and I could leave that pain in the ass behind. You know as an adult how good it feels to get away from the kids every now and then. Well kids need to get away as well.

As a kid I didn't like being smothered and all the kids I knew that were over protected hated their lives. We were always taught to be suspicious of the intent of adults; don't talk to strangers. I've seen too many kids get taken in by adults with ulterior motives, be it religious conversion or sexual predation (often both at the same time). You can sing Kumbaya while you recite verses from "It Takes a Village", but look at the news over the last year and you will see trusted pillars in communities all over the country have fallen in disgrace, and we should trust adult /child relationships? I say it's an unnatural marriage.

5:28 AM  
Blogger richpix said...

So by that logic because there are countless families where abuse, neglect and incest occur in this country nobody should ever have children?

The children who would find themselves needing a mentoring program don't come from overprotective homes. They probably don't have anyone who tells them to stay away from strangers. They may be lucky enough to have someone who makes sure they get to school in the morning or to be there when they come home, but then they may not. Mom or dad may be lying in a drunken or drugged state. They may be mentally ill. They may just not have the tools to know how to provide good guidance for a child. They may have come from a succession of such relationships. Certainly they didn't come from your situation of a happy, fairly normal background.

So yes, sometimes it does take a village.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Ginger said...

I am not a fan of smothering...kids, men, etc. People need help...even w/ all the books out there...we all need help at one time or another..but not to be smothered to where we can't be independent. On another note: In HS I went to school w/ a girl who's parents were BOTH attorneys...she had everything she could ever want..money wise...but her parents worked all the time. She showed how much she needed them by shop lifting, drinking, drugs, sex w/ strange boys...and I mean "strange"...she continued her bad behavior..even after getting caught time and time again. I felt sorry for her...not enough to hang out w/ her...It was hard keeping my head above water at the time (But you know me, I did say something to her...). She really needed someone to spend time w/, a responsible, caring, understanding adult to SHOW her how to be productive...w/o money and things. You know, you mention about your son going to Belgium....what a wild place! I have a friend who was born in Belgium, married a pro hockey player and moved here...and the stories she can tell! Anywho...you said your son "honesty told you"...that in itself shows the hard work you all have put in, and how much he respects you :)The same thing happened to a kid visiting here from another country. He said that he knew when he was coming to America, that it would be a once in a life time experience...so he was going to have the time of his life...so he did...and got caught...and got sent home. He say's he'd do it all the same all over again, if given the chance. ahhh, the mind of a 17 year old male. Go Figure!

3:04 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Rich, This article wasn't about that. It was about adult imposition. It was about kids no longer being allowed to have time to themselves because parents make them do all this extra curricular stuff and organize all their free time. Let kids be kids.

Ginger, Kids need to get into trouble. They need to flirt with the flame, sometimes they get burned and sometimes they get out of the kitchen when it it too hot. Kids learn little when they just get adult preaching all the time. Case in point is the failure DARE Program. What it actually did was make more kids curious about drugs than those that never went through the DARE program. Well meaning adults tend to screw things up.

5:17 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I never "preached" to my lunch buddies. Me thinks you lost the battle on this topic!

6:43 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Jeff, though you may not think it's preaching I'm sure you are imparting information and hints of how to behave. I'm sure it makes you feel good, but if I were one of these kids I'd want nothing to do with it.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

Guy: I do not smother my kids. When do they get away from me and other adults? Plenty. During the summer, the front doors of the neighborhood fly open and they all pour out to do what they do. Nobody's hovering. Someone needs a Band-Aid, lunch, or their bike out from under the porch? They know where to come. I think you're viewing this topic in very hyperbolic terms. It's not all black and white. There is a balance.

I also think you have a very bucolic view of kids bonding with kids. Lack of adult involvement doesn't result in tire swings and dips in the river in places like East LA. By going too far the other way, you're setting up kids to be every bit as victimized and put upon as the way you clearly view the other side. I think you're off on this one, and we'll have to agree to disagree.

1:18 AM  
Blogger loopymamain06 said...

whoa, 32 comments, and no one even mentioned that if kids got beat enough we wouldn't need "buddies"
loopy

10:46 AM  

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