A man helps a boy see through binoculars

Thinking about becoming a mentor?

Here are some tips and expert advice

There are so many kids in Calgary and the surrounding area who would benefit from the positive support of an adult, whether through a formal mentorship, or informal hangs. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a Big Brother or Big Sister but you weren’t sure what to expect. We’ve gotten some expert advice from a Big Brother here in YYC, so read on to gain the confidence you need to take the next step towards changing someone’s life for the better.

1. Commit fully
You will have an opportunity to change a young person’s life for the better. This is an awesome responsibility, and one that is not to be taken lightly. Our pro recommends if you have doubts about committing, this is probably not the volunteer position for you.

2. It’s not about you
If you decide you want to help someone out by being a mentor, that’s great news and deserves some recognition. But, if praise is the only reason you’re doing this, you might want to think again. Our expert Big Brother had the following to say, “A lot of people get into mentoring to fill some void they have and because they feel they should, and when they realize it’s hard work they back out. That is the absolute worst thing you can do to one of these kids.” This is not to say that you won’t gain a lot from this relationship, because you will, but make sure you know who stands to gain and who stands to lose in this relationship.

3. Get ready to learn
You might expect that as the mentor, you are going to be bestowing the younger person with all the wisdom you have learned because of your extra years on this planet. Although you will be a role model for the kid you meet and eventually forge a relationship with, they will be teaching you too. Through his relationship with his ‘younger brother,’ George had to learn patience and acceptance, by realizing that this person he was getting to know was his own little dude and wasn’t going to see things the same way George did. Seeing that allowed George to get a handle on what really mattered in the relationship, without sweating the small stuff. Small things like being consistently available, even if that just meant checking in by text.

4. Have some fun!
Yes, these kids have a lot going on in their lives. They are facing issues that are beyond the scope of what many adults have to deal with, but this is why it’s especially important to chill and have some fun. You are not a parent to them, you are more of a friend. Meaning you can hang—our Big Brother took his kid to a Black Sabbath concert. Having some fun while being a good role model and a constant presence in the life of a younger vulnerable kid is ideal.

5. Just do it
Now that we’ve scared you a bit, our next tip is just to go for it. If you’ve read this far, you’re probably pretty serious about getting involved. If you know you can commit and you believe you have something to offer a younger person, just go for it. If you want to learn more, please check out Big Brothers Big Sisters.