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Character is doing the right thing when nobody is looking. J.C.Watts.

Historically, children were viewed as miniature adults: beings that were fed culture, history academics and sciences. They were born and bred to be mothers and fathers and expected to have families of their own.  Today, we live in a generation where society identifies children and youth as a separate entity, rather than adults.  Children and Youth  have their own set of rights,  privileges and rules. Yet, somewhere along the process of letting children be children, we have neglected to enforce values and principles, which ultimately build the characters of these individuals.

Think of a child as a lump of clay; If you leave that lump of clay alone and refuse to mold it, carve it or turn it in into something useful, it will remain a lump. When the wind hits,  it will still remain a lump.  When it falls and hits the ground, it will still be a lump. Sadly, parents are slowly backing away from their role the potter and are letting teachers, friends,  the media and society, mold their children into some idea of an adult.

Youths are doing things, which seem profitable but too easily find themselves with unnecessary problems. Those of us who chose to obey our parent’s strict rules, at least did our best too,  have been able to establish our own set of moral values. This has placed us in a good position to mentor others. We understand that there is absolutely no smoking in the house, whether our caregiver is there or not. We know that the house must be kept clean at all times, even when we live in our own place. You won’t catch us cheating on an exam, even if an opportunity arises to do so. We have developed values, which remain when no one is watching.  We know we should stay in character at home, school and work. When we are single, dating or married.

Youth will follow youth, since we have the huge impact on our generation. We look to each other for answers, guidance and support. We need to be role models who set new trends, set good standards and raise the bar even higher. We need teach each other that it’s cool to be obedient to your parents. It is sick to keep a curfew. It’s hot to dress modestly. It’s fly to get a job and earn money the legal way. It’s off the chain to stay in school and get high grades.  It dope to stay away from drugs.  This may all sound corny, but we  need to do it!

Actions speak louder than words. If you can let your life be an open book,  let others know this is the way you choose to live, and that you’re getting lots of perks from sticking to your values; someone will notice.  Eventually, they will come to you looking for advice and before you know it, you have become a mentor.

NOTE: Let youth come to you. Do not step over the line and force them to change. They will just ignore you and push you away.

When speaking to your men-tee, be humble, come from a place of humility and NOT PRIDE. Let them know you were once as lost and rebellious as they were and it didn’t work out. Reassure them, comfort them, be available to them. Find a place where you can talk weekly, about what they are going through and how you can help.

Eventually, that lump of clay will try to mirror you to the best of their ability. They will look, talk and act differently. They’ll have different goals and ambitions. They’ll want to go to college. They will become a future entrepreneurs and will want to eat healthy and stay fit.  You might feel like a parent, and start to develop over protection of your new protege.

Happy mentoring and role modeling,

Sherry Mendoza

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