Something that many of us women can do is give counsel and guidance to younger women. Summed in one word--Mentor.
Some of you may be thinking "What! I need counsel and guidance myself!" or "I'm not old enough" or "What do I have to offer in this area?" Stick with me...each of us has something we can impart into the life of a girl or younger woman. Mentoring can also be in relation to one having more experience than age. But, for the sake of simplicity, I will relate this to an older woman mentoring girls and younger women.
Mentoring can be short or long term, and can also be a one-time ‘spontaneous’ occurrence (more on spontaneous mentoring in a future post).
Why Reach Out?
Several studies have documented the importance of mentoring for girls. The conclusion: more often than not, adolescent girls need other women, in addition to their mothers, to provide nurturing and positive influence in their lives. There are things that many girls won’t talk with their mothers about but will with another female that they trust. These things can include their participation in risky behaviors (smoking, drinking, sex), older male friends or relatives coming on to them, being involved in abusive relationship, or just their own feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction with self.
A few practical ways you can make a difference as a mentor in a young girl’s life
Be a giver of kind words - make a point to say something affirming to girls you come in contact with. As a substitute ‘guest’ teacher for many years, I made it a practice to give note cards with positive messages to the students in the classes I visited. I knew I would never see many of those children again. But who knows what positive effect, however small, it will have for the recipient.
Reach out using what’s in your hand--- your gifts, talents, hobbies, interests.
When one mother decided to formally teach her 9-year-old daughter to cook, she created an 8-week cooking class that she offered to other girls in her neighborhood and church. The girls gained baking skills and earned a basket of measuring utensils and a personalized apron. The mother was able to connect with the girls on a more intimate level and release her own positive influence and attention into their lives.
Volunteer. Connect with a woman who’s already involved in working with girls. Girl scouts, church youth groups, etc.
Reach out to a girl in your neighborhood, community, church.
She could be your friend’s daughter or your own niece.
Just reach out.
There are girls out there who could benefit greatly from a connection with you. Some of them, desperately.