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Good Mentoring: The Next Best Thing to Good Parenting

While the fond memories of family and festivities are still fresh enough to make us smile, let’s commit to spending time with family, friends and loved ones beyond the holidays. And, in the year ahead, let’s not forget to specifically spend time with young people.

Susan Taylor
Susan L. Taylor

I had some wonderful moments with my kids around Christmas. We took our biennial theater trip to New York City to see  Motown the Musical. It was a great show and such a joy hanging out with them.

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But, it’s also important to have conversations and listen to what’s on their minds. It’s crucial for parents and other seasoned relatives to connect with the youth in the family regardless of their ages and the topics.

But what happens when a young person doesn’t have anyone close enough to have a heart-to-heart talk or to pour into them socially, emotionally, psychologically and culturally? Oftentimes that leads to a child or teen with low self-esteem and no voices to guide them to the right decisions in life. The answer then is a mentor.

January is National Mentoring Month. And, with peer pressures and other influences, most of us need not look far to see the benefits of mentoring in the black community. So, if not through our families, there are plenty of outlets through which we can serve.

For example, among the top black mentoring organizations is the 100 Black Men of America. Its motto: “What They See Is What They’ll Be.” Their workshops include positive self-identity, personal vision, life skills, social and emotional skills, moral character and work ethic, just to start.

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And then there’s the National CARES Mentoring Movement led by former Essence editor in chief Susan L. Taylor. In her words, “None of the forces claiming our children’s lives are more powerful than our commitment and love.”

On its home page, the National CARES Mentoring Movement reports that:

  • 58 percent of black fourth-graders are functionally illiterate.
  • In some cities, 80 percent of our boys drop out before finishing high school.
  • Every day 1,000 black children are arrested.
  • 1 in 8 African American males ages 25-29 is incarcerated.
  • The No. 1 one cause of death for our boys is homicide.


That's more than enough reason to get involved. As President Obama says in his 2015 National Mentoring Month Proclamation: “The sense of dedication displayed by all those who invest their time and energy in mentoring reminds us that if we work together, we can ensure there are no limits to what young Americans can achieve.”


AARP helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for and equips Americans 50 and older to live their best lives. Discover all the ways AARP can help you, your family and your community at AARP Black Community.

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