Decision Making - Using Power Effectively

Decision Making

You and your mentee will be faced with many decisions and opportunities. Here, you’ll find guidance on how to make child-focused, ethical decisions in different mentoring situations.


When interacting with your mentee, it is important to be mindful of the natural power imbalance that is inherent in mentoring relationships between adults and youth. You should avoid using your position of power to downplay or override your mentee’s thoughts, values or beliefs; however you could take advantage of that influence to advance their interests.

Decision Making Scenarios

Scenario 8: Your Little Sister or Little Brother engages you in a discussion about a politically or culturally sensitive topic. You have a significant amount of expertise on the topic but they do not, and you soon find out that their thoughts differ significantly from your own. How would you handle the situation? If you decided to partake in the discussion, how would you approach it?

This is a challenging question because your approach could depend on a number of factors including the age, maturity level and personality of your mentee as well as the nuances of your friendship. If there is any chance that engaging in the discussion could have a negative impact on your mentee, it would be best to politely change the subject. On the other hand, if you feel that having discussion could be beneficial, you may wish to go ahead, keeping the following guidelines in mind:

  • Ask your mentee their opinions first. Listen attentively to them. You can then decide whether or not to share your thoughts.
  • Be respectful at all times. Be open to their ideas and opinions, especially when they differ from your own. This can be an opportunity for you to get to know each other better and for both of you to learn something new.
  • Be mindful of their religious and cultural beliefs, and avoid contradicting them.
  • Present facts, keeping emotions in check.
  • Depending on the age of the child and the stage of the match, this could be a good opportunity to learn more about the topic by exploring additional resources together.

Scenario 9: You are a person who has significant influence, many connections, and lots of life experience. List ways you can draw from these attributes to have a positive impact on your mentee.

There are many ways you can have a positive influence on your mentee! The following are only a few examples. You can:
  • Introduce them to new experiences.
  • Provide them with new perspectives.
  • Teach them life skills.
  • Connect them to resources.
  • Share what you have learned from your own experiences.
  • Provide reassurance when they are doubtful.
  • Support them in their problem solving.
  • Help them discover new interests and passions.
  • Celebrate their achievements, large and small.
  • Laugh with them!

Key Points to Remember

  • Avoid using your position of power to downplay your mentee’s thoughts or beliefs. Welcome their interest, creativity and thoughtfulness. Respect their cultural and religious beliefs at all times.
  • Use your influence to help your mentee. Your role as a mentor provides you with the opportunity to have a significant impact on the life of a child or youth, so use your experience and wisdom to benefit them!