After working with young mothers in South West Atlanta for nearly five years, we are looking for support moms who are interested in mentoring young mothers. It’s been a long time coming. We’ve seen success and we have seen failures, but luckily we have learned some things along the way.
One thing that we have learned is that the majority of the transformation comes in between meetings. Transformation comes in between retreats and trips to the museum. And at this point, it is impossible to move forward without connecting our moms with Mentor Moms, who are willing to walk alongside them during those many moments that are in between. So, if you are interested, here are the five main qualities we are looking for in our Mentor Moms:
Our Mentor Moms are women who have a heart for mothers. Motherhood is a community we enter into in a multitude of ways. Some of us carry our children in our wombs, while some of us journey to motherhood through adoption, surrogacy, or mentorship. Aside from those differences, all of our journeys provide us with a unique insight into what it takes to raise a child.
We are not the same, which is why community is so awesome. Building community allows us to learn and grow from the experience of other women. What we hope for our young moms is that they are surrounded by women who are compassionate and willing to guide them through their own personal journeys.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned through nearly five years of working with young mothers, it’s that you MUST BE flexible. Oftentimes our mothers experience the unpredictable– whether that be insecurity in housing, employment, education, or child-care, etc. Things happen. This doesn’t mean every mom, but we can’t predict when emergencies will arise.
For us, flexibility means understanding frequent cancelations will happen. You may be asked to help in ways that you are both comfortable with and uncomfortable with but we do not expect anyone to stretch beyond what’s possible for them. Our expectations are for you to abide by our guidelines and define your boundaries for yourself.
Cheerleading is something we can all use a little more of. Someone who hangs around, shouting, “I see you girl! You did that!” Who doesn’t love that!?
Our Mentor Moms are supportive. They encourage our moms to achieve their goals, while simultaneously coaching them through setting new goals. They walk through their accomplishments with them and they show up.
Mentoring doesn’t automatically grant you a “I get to tell you what to do and I’m right because I’m the Mentor” badge. It’s a person who can encourage, provide positive options, and be respectful of their mentee’s autonomy. We want to support them to move towards independence for themselves and their families in their own way.
Our Mentor Moms are resources to young mothers. They approach problems with solutions that can help– whether that be pointing them in the direction of the right person, book, or service that can meet their needs. We are not the solution. Neither are our Mentor Moms. We don’t expect our Mentor Moms to be the solution to our girls’ problems, only a resource.
That can mean sharing the appropriate resources during a crisis (i.e. Food Stamps, Family Shelter, etc) or offering advice on ways to increase their milk flow while breastfeeding. It can also look like purchasing your mentee a copy of your favorite parenting book and offering to read it with them.
Last but not least, our Mentor Moms are open. We all come from different backgrounds with different experiences and we all deserve respect. As beautiful as motherhood is– it’s one of the most opinionated (and judgemental) communities I’ve ever been apart of. Breastfeeding vs formula-feeding. Natural-birth vs a Medicated birth. There are so many options and we are all trying to find our way to the BEST choice for our families.
We expect our Mentor Moms to raise concerns with grace and understand the difference between something that is a danger to a child and something that is a difference in philosophy. You won’t like everything they do. Honestly, they will have their opinions about your parenting, too. We just want to foster relationships that are open to differences with the ability to love people through.
Sound like a lot? Hopefully not. Hopefully, you’ve spent some time evaluating yourself and have decided you are perfect for the job. Hopefully you are ready to take on a young mom and see her through her journey of motherhood. If so, Let’s begin!
If you are interested in becoming a Mentor Mom and want to learn more, contact Takia Lamb at firstname.lastname@example.org.