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Will You Be My Mentor?

Michal Eisikowitz

There’s no need to muddle through life’s pickles on your own. Learn how to seek out a mentor who can help you sort through life’s unavoidable crises — and learn how to be an effective mentor, if others have you pegged.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sari’s mother-in-law is meddling. Her husband is showing signs of depression. Her daughter clashes with her teacher. And her son is speaking with newfound chutzpah. Sounds overwhelming? It is. But Sari has an address.Mrs.Cukier, who’s known Sari since 12th grade, serves as Sari’s monthly sounding board. The veteran teacher doesn’t always have the answers, but she listens and empathizes, referring Sari to the right resources if necessary. Sari has already learned: After schmoozing withMrs.C., life’s inevitable bumps seem a lot more surmountable. The powerful effects of an astute mentor have been confirmed by research. In one study cited by the National Mentoring Partnership, at-risk teens mentored by an adult were 55 percent more likely to enroll in college and 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions. The most compelling and consistent benefit of mentoring, according to a study funded by theBill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was a marked reduction in depressive symptoms. Surprised? Probably not. The findings confirm what most of us already intuited: close, supportive relationships are essential for emotional health throughout one’s lifespan, and a mentor fills that need in a deep, comprehensive way. But the process isn’t always straightforward. Aspiring mentees must know what to look for, how to launch the relationship, and how to keep it going. On the flip side, mentors must understand their role — and its limitations — and set healthy boundaries.

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