Rebecca St. James, Christian songwriter, musician and author, prayed for a mentor. "There came a point when I felt I wanted somebody outside of my family to speak into my life . . . somebody who understood my world as a musician and a woman in ministry."

If your teen feels a need for a mentor, as Rebecca did, ask your child to define what she expects to contribute to such a relationship and what she hopes to gain from it. Few teens consider both sides of a relationship and their part in it.

Rebecca originally based her need for a mentor on common career goals and faith. She turned to Evie Tornquist, a family friend. Evie, who was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2005, started her music career in the 1970s. She could relate to what Rebecca was facing professionally and personally because both women began singing in their teens.

Finding the right mentor for your teen

Like Rebecca, your teen may want to learn from someone who has similar career goals, or perhaps she needs spiritual or academic guidance. Each teen is different, so mentors can range from someone who is a strong motivator to a good listener to a prayer partner.

Once a teen better understands the purpose of mentorship, help her list candidates. Rebecca tells teens, "Have your eyes open for people around you – in your community, at church, a Christian neighbour – for somebody you respect." Regardless of the age difference, a mentor should be the same gender as your teen. Let your child come up with a few ideas. Then you can suggest others.

With the list in hand, pray with her for God to reveal the right mentor. Your involvement will communicate that you are not jealous of her desire to have another adult in her life and want what is best for her.

Prepare your child for rejection

Before your teen approaches an adult to be her mentor, prepare her for the possibility of rejection. Rebecca was nervous when she approached Evie. "I think we do have to be prepared for someone to say, ‘I’m really maxed out in my life already. I wouldn’t do this justice, but I will pray that God will show you the right person,’ " Rebecca says. "We should be prepared to accept that and allow grace in that." Once your teen understands the process, she is ready to ask someone to be her mentor.

Evie began as Rebecca’s mentor, but as Rebecca grew, their relationship transformed into something even better, a close friendship. Evie says of Rebecca, "She is my prayer partner. . . . I can just as soon say [she’s] my mentor." Evie sees the relationship as discipleship, "bearing one another’s burdens and delights and joys, walking together, being accountable to one another, intentionally spending time together, praying and saying hard things that need to be said." When done well, a mentor relationship is valuable to both the teen and the adult.

From Focus on Your Child’s Teen Phases, November 2008. Published by Focus on the Family. © 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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