The future of our nation rests on the shoulders of our youth. However, most adolescents are at a disadvantage—making the path to a successful future difficult. The main reason for this disadvantage is due to broken families.
The Pew Research Center found that 46% of American kids under the age of 18 live in a home with two married heterosexual parents who are in their first marriage. That same year the percentage of children born outside of marriage was at 41%. Some further statistics regarding family separation are found here. These stats show that 36.6% of all U.S marriages end in divorce, 21% of children are being raised without their fathers in America and about one out of two kids will see their parent’s marriage break up. Some troubling statistics showed that children with divorced parents were twice as likely to drop out of high school and twice as likely to attempt suicide. Broken families have been linked to decreases in academic performance, as well as an increase in the likelihood of being incarcerated, and utilizing drugs and alcohol.
At MentorMe of West Michigan our ultimate goal is for both kids and parents in our community to come to know Jesus and see every child living in a home with parents who have a relationship with Jesus. However, that is currently far from the reality and there is a desperate need for students to have a godly mentor in their lives who serves to diminish the “disadvantages” of their family situation.
Approximately 59% of children who have a mentor receive better grades in school and are more likely to attend college. Another benefit from having a mentor is improved self-confidence. Our mentors strive to encourage students so they believe in themselves and push them to achieve their full potential. Mentors can help students improve their social skills through conversation and conflict resolution. The ever-increasing technology addiction has caused a decrease in the development of social skills.
The age group that MentorMe serves is 4th to 12th grade. As students reach the middle school years, they typically begin to seek more independence and rely less on their parents and more on their peers. What they see on their phones has a heavy influence as well. With this in mind, we find it important to simply be a committed friend to students; building a relationship of trust and spending quality time with them. MentorMe has watched students grow in self-confidence and in their communication skills as students open up about the challenges of their lives. Our mentors seek to contrast against the influence of the world and establish the influence of Christ into our students.
Palmer is a mentor to a 5th grader, “Johnny” and has witnessed some of these benefits firsthand. Palmer shared that since the two began their mentoring relationship three months ago, Johnny’s grades have increased. Palmer said, “Johnny is a smart kid, but wasn’t applying himself in school and needed someone to motivate him.” Motivation and encouragement is exactly what Johnny received from his new friend. A closer look at Palmer and Johnny will be available in a future blog post.
Broken families are not just a problem in other areas of our nation, but a serious issue here in our West Michigan community as well. By raising awareness of this, we hope you will see the urgent need for mentoring. Statistics simply don’t paint the whole picture. The work that has been done in the past few months by our mentors and positive progress made in their student’s lives has been miraculous. We give God all the glory for what He is doing through this ministry. For every student like Johnny, there are countless more like him who have an equal need for friendship and guidance of a godly mentor. Please join us in spreading the word about MentorMe of West Michigan and share this post with others. Above all, please pray for our mentors and students daily. Also, if you have not followed us on social media yet, you can find us by clicking on the icons above for Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Thank you for your support!