Some 17 mentors have graduated from a three-month, Side-by-Side mentoring course bringing the total working across five Christian churches to 91.
These mentors are using their new skills to turn the caring they feel for parents raising young children into an effective ministry. ‘I wish people would learn this as a life skill. I think the world would be a better place,’ said one.
Mentor training includes a study of the lifecycle of families, family of origin, listening, compassionate communication and dealing with change and loss. They also learn how to develop healthy and effective relationships.
Mentoring is tailored to suit people’s time and energy, working in the natural environment of the mentor. For example, Chris makes a point of talking to families after Mass, letting them know she is there to listen and support. Mary talks in the playground to mums who are new to the school.
Some mentors form more official relationships as in Lower Hutt where those involved in the baptism programme keep in touch with the young parents who bring their child for baptism.
All mentors link the family and the church community. Because of the relationship that grows when things are going smoothly, the mentor can call on the parish for support in a crisis. They can connect the family with such agencies as St Vincent de Paul, Catholic Social Services and the prayer group.
Side-by Side mentoring is co-ordinated through the Catholic and Anglican dioceses of Wellington and Palmerston North and the training is open to all Christian church communities.
As well as a caring for parents and children, an effective mentor needs some experience of how hard parenting can be, a good ear and an ability to affirm parents.
For more info, contact Sue Devereux email@example.com or 04 496-1744.
Image: John Kuriakose, Lisa Halliwell, Epifania Higgs, Kim Watson, Sr Makareta Gilbert, Hannah James, Melanie Black, Mary Rayner, Sara Jones, Rosemary Jamieson.