When you work with dads one of the most significant roles you fill is that of a mentor. Whether you work one-on-one with dads or facilitate a group-based fatherhood program, the fact that you mentor dads should guide every action you take.
But what, exactly, is a mentor? And what, exactly, does a mentor do?
A mentor is a “trusted counselor or guide” who uses direction and support to push his or her mentee to stretch toward self-insight—the proverbial “Aha!” moment.
That doing part of a mentor’s role is described beautifully in the book The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath. Based on a review of research conducted on mentoring in different contexts, they concluded that:
“A mentor’s push leads to a stretch, which creates a moment of self-insight [in the mentee]. What can be counterintuitive about this vision of mentorship is the part about pushing. It requires the mentor to expose the mentee to risk. That can be unnatural; our instinct with the people we care about is to protect them from risk. To insulate them.”
The Heaths not only share what a mentor does they also describe the environment in which he or she pushes the mentee to stretch—an environment of high standards (or expectations) and assurance.
They offer this powerful formula for how the right environment and the right action on the part of the mentor creates self-insight in the mentee.
(High Standards + Assurance) + (Direction + Support) = Enhanced Self-Insight
Here’s how to apply that formula in your work with dads.
- (High Standards + Assurance): Say that you expect them to become better dads and that you’re confident that they will as long as they put in the hard work required. Be encouraging and realistic without sugar coating what’s required.
- (Direction + Support): Provide clear, concise direction and support in the areas in which they need to improve, such as in how to apply new knowledge of effective ways to discipline their children.
- Continually listen for self-insight and ask dads what they’ve learned so that you can determine whether they do, in fact, experience self-insight. Don't assume that they’ll experience it.
Look in the coming months for more ways to apply insight from The Power of Moments in your work with dads!
Do you see yourself as a mentor to the dads you serve?
In what ways do you not apply the powerful formula in this post? How can you more effectively apply it?