Decision Making - All Key Points

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.


Honoring Commitments

  • Take time to get informed before you start mentoring. If you have yet to start mentoring, find out what is expected of mentors and what the common challenges are by discussing with the program staff at your local agency, and by visiting the web site Is Mentoring for You? Don’t start mentoring before gathering the facts.
  • Your mentee depends on you. Many children and youth in our programs may have experienced instability in family relationships, or have not been able to find someone they can really count on. Often, they depend on their mentors to be a stable, positive presence in their lives.
  • Breaking a commitment, no matter how big or small, can hurt. Whether deciding to end a match prematurely, or simply forgetting about a weekly outing, breaking a commitment to your Little Sister or Little Brother can impact their self-esteem and make them mistrustful of you and others.
  • Give your friendship time to develop. It can take time to build trust, create a connection, and see positive changes in your Little Sister or Little Brother. It’s important to exercise patience, set small goals for the match, and be confident that you are making a difference.
  • Communicate openly with your mentee, their family, and program staff. You would be surprised at how many of the issues you are facing can be resolved just by discussing them!

Being Sensitive to Differences

  • Learn about your mentee’s culture, values and beliefs. You can do this through research, asking questions, and respectfully sharing ideas. Doing so helps promote understanding and acceptance.
  • Be self-aware. It’s important to recognize your own biases and avoid imposing them on your mentee and their family.
  • Be open about your own identity. Set a good example by sharing and taking pride in who you are.
  • Celebrate your differences instead of dwelling on them. Remind your Little Brother or Little Sister often that what makes people different also makes them unique and special.

Respecting Boundaries

  • With regard to physical contact, err on the side of caution. Use other creative ways to show your affection, and let your Little Sister or Little Brother decide what they are comfortable with.
  • Avoid taking on roles outside the bounds of mentoring. While you may be well-meaning, taking on additional roles such as that of a manager, coach or tutor can detract from your main role - that of a friend and role model.
  • It’s important to set boundaries with the parents or guardians as well. While having a good relationship with your mentee’s parent or guardian can often help facilitate a strong match, crossing over into the role of advisor or confidant to a parent or guardian can cause your mentee to become uncomfortable or even resentful.

Using Power Effectively

  • 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!

Handling Disclosures Properly

  • Encourage your mentee to share what’s on their mind. Keeping an open and honest friendship will help ensure their safety and well-being.
  • Certain secrets cannot be kept. You have an obligation to report serious disclosures such as abuse, suspected abuse, or anything that pertains to their own or someone else’s well-being, and you should avoid promising to keep a secret, especially if you sense your mentee may have something important to reveal. It is always important to talk with your program staff, even if you don’t think it is a serious issue.
  • Be careful disclosing information about your mentee. You should not provide personal information or information that can lead to their identification.