Today, father absence is among the most pervasive social problems challenging American families. But the presence of a responsible father improves a variety of outcomes for children and serves as a protective factor against problem behaviors including teen drug use, pregnancy, truancy, and criminal activity. Thus, supporting and encouraging fathers to become more present and actively involved in their child's life offers significant potential to empower individual lives, foster families, and contribute to community well-being.
While the vision is to have all fathers positively involved in the lives of their children and families, mentoring or having the presence of a positive father figure in the absence of a positively involved father has proven to be a powerful tool for helping youth reach their full potential. Mentors and positive father figures can provide support, advice, friendship, reinforcement and constructive examples. Quality mentoring relationships offer significant potential to reduce the adverse effects of father absence by improving young people’s attitudes toward parents, encouraging students to focus on their education, and helping children face daily challenges. Also, mentoring serves as an important means to promote responsible fatherhood via supporting and encouraging caring adults to become actively involved in the lives of children and youth.
Together, responsible fatherhood and quality mentoring brings hope to young lives through the power of presence. Whether you’re interesting in becoming a mentor, or connecting your child to a mentoring program, learning more about what it means and ways to connect to a trustworthy program are important first steps.
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Connecting to a mentoring program in your community is easier that you might think. Online tools from Mentoring.org and Big Brothers Big Sisters can help you find established programs in your area. If you don’t find results in your community, consider asking at your local school about what is available. Whether you’re looking to become a mentor or find a mentoring program for your child, it’s important to do a little research to find out what’s available so you can connect to the right program for you.
- Mentoring.org: Connect to a Program
- Big Brothers Big Sisters: Enrolling a Little
- Big Brothers Big Sisters: Become a Volunteer
Interested in learning more about becoming a mentor? One of the first steps is to learn more about what it means to mentor, and the role a mentor has in the life of their mentee. Mentoring.org's guide helps you find support and ways to connect to a mentoring program near you.
Mentoring—the presence of a caring adult offering support, advice, friendship, reinforcement and constructive examples—has proven to be a powerful tool for helping young people fulfill their potential.
Research results show that mentoring:
- Improves young people's attitudes towards their parents, peers and teachers
- Encourages students to stay motivated and focused on their education and provides a positive way for young people to spend free time
- Helps young people face daily challenges and offers opportunities for youth to consider new career paths and get much-needed economic skills and knowledge
Moreover, quality mentoring offers significant potential to reduce the adverse effects of father absence and serves as an important tool to promote responsible fatherhood by supporting and encouraging caring adults to become actively involved in the lives of children and youth.
The Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health invited real-life mentor/mentee pairs to share their stories for the chance to be featured in a National Mentoring Month 2009 PSA as part of the ReelPeople Project. Charlie and Diontray, the pair selected for the 2009 campaign, were nominated by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico.
The Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health invited real-life mentor/mentee pairs to share their stories for the chance to be featured in a National Mentoring Month 2010 PSA as part of the ReelPeople Project. Debbie and Becky, the pair selected for the 2010 campaign, were nominated by the Mass Mentoring Partnership through the Big Friends Little Friends Program of Fall River, Massachusetts.
Children and families benefit greatly from both engaged fathers and positive adults as mentors. It is paramount that we continue to promote, emphasize and encourage both positive father involvement and mentoring to help ensure child well-being now and in the future.