Do you have a mentor mom? Mentors are popular for students looking to get through college. They're great for employees looking to turn a job into a career. They're a benefit for people looking to lose a few pounds. But they can also be really helpful for moms too.
Chances are that you aren't the first person to face whatever parenting issue that you're facing. As special as our children are, they aren't as unique as we'd like to think. You might be the first mom to have a six-year-old son in Mrs. A's 2012 Kindergarten class who also lives on Main Street and who has a little sister named Betsy, but you aren't the first person to:
- Worry that your 2-year-old doesn't know enough words or
- Wonder how to help your 4-year-old stay dry through the night or
- Need to prepare your 6-year-old for all day school or
- Determine when to help your 8-year-old with homework and when to let her struggle by herself or
- Set a bedtime for a 10-year-old or
- Talk about body changes with a 12-year-old or
- Help your 14-year-old pick out a dress for Homecoming or
- Take your 16-year-old to get a driver's license or
- Assist their 18-year-old in filling out financial aid forms for college or
- Struggle with their 20-year-old who's home for Christmas break.
Many other moms have been through this. So having a mom that you can talk to can be a great tool in your mommy toolbelt. Here's some advice on having a mentor mom:
It doesn't have to be official. Many times in the corporate world, a mentor relationship is a formal thing. But it doesn't have to be. You don't need to go to her and say "Will you be my mentor?" You can if you want to, but you don't have to. Instead, you can just consider her as someone you respect and as long as she's willing to give you advice when you seek it out, then you're in a great spot. There's no need to give her a fancy title or set up a scheduled time every week that you talk. You can have a scheduled time, but you don't have to. It should be someone who you have a relationship with. If you call her up to get her opinion on temper tantrums, her response shouldn't be "Who are you again?"
It doesn't have to be for a lifetime. There will always be people coming into and going out of our lives. You don't have to identify a mentor mom who you will go to for advice for the rest of your life. It could just be while you have a toddler. Or while your daughter is battling through second grade. Or while your son is figuring out the potty training thing. Don't feel like you need to pick the one woman who will be able to navigate you through the rest of your life. You aren't marrying her!
You don't have to be her Mini Me. While you want a woman whose opinion you respect, whose parenting you generally like and whose mindset is similar to yours, you don't have to do things just because she says so. You're still the mom in your family. It's okay to get advice from her and not take it. It's even okay not to ask her opinion on certain things because your mindset is different in those areas. If you already know that you have different philosophies on vaccinations, then don't dwell on that. And just because you have differing opinions on potty training, it shouldn't stop you from asking her advice on discipline and bedtimes and curfews.
She should be ahead of you. There's tremendous value in having mommy friends that are going through the same thing you are, around the same time. You can exchange ideas and, if nothing else, you can cry on each other's shoulders. That's a great blessing! But if you want advice on how something worked out, find a mentor mom who's a few years ahead of you. She'll not only be able to tell you what she did, but she can also tell you the consequences (good or bad) that it had later on. She'll be able to say "Here's how we potty trained, but if I were to do it all over again, this is what I'd do differently." or "Here's how we handled bedtime when he was 8 years old and it worked great because when he was 10, we were able to ..." kind of advice. That's very valuable!
Do you have a mentor mom? Would you be a mentor mom for someone else?