It is something to watch a good father, a man invested in his child’s life. It is something to admire. But it’s something that a lot of children will never know.
There are some youth in our mentoring programs without a man to stand behind them, to encourage them, to admire them.
The simple and amazing thing of having a man admire you — to laugh at your jokes, smile with pride at your stories, to stand in awe of your talents, to honor the person you are becoming — is a transforming experience.
That admiration, that one man being your biggest fan and your most ardent supporter — that one man can change a life.
And if a child doesn’t have a male role model in their life, does that mean they don’t get the hand on their shoulder, the admiration of an older man to guide and support them?
It means instead all our youth are trying to earn one.
The youth in our lives are trying to “wow” us – their teacher, coach, neighbor, friend. These young people are trying to get one of us to light up when they walk in the room.
If a child walks up and shakes hands with you, they may see you as a man who has something to offer – a listening ear, a path to follow, a story to learn from – a man they’d like to admire and be admired by.
They are asking you –their neighbor, uncle, librarian, coach — to be their mentor.
So men, when these young people open that door to you, say yes. Be a mentor. Be a man who, through the investment of time and admiration, can make a difference in a child’s life.
You don’t need any special skills. You don’t need tons of time. You just need to admire the youth in your life. Give them your time. Invest in them with your experience. Be a hand on their shoulder and encouraging word along their path – be a mentor, be a friend.