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It’s No Fairy Tale: Mentors Make a Difference

​This information is included in our Guide to Imaginative Play. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

Cinderella had her Fairy Godmother.

Pinocchio had Jiminy Cricket.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had Splinter.

Whether they live in the land of imagination and fantasy or the real world, every young person needs a mentor.

Usually, mentors are not a child’s parent. A mentor can be an aunt or uncle, a grandmother or grandfather, a teacher, a coach, a music instructor — any adult who can develop a trusting relationship with a child and provide guidance, direction and a sense of purpose.

Mentors can help a child find his or her passion and map out the path for achieving goals, big and small.

Parents are responsible for their children’s upbringing, care and welfare, and nothing can replace their love. But mentors can be that “extra” voice that praises, reinforces, corrects and firmly pushes kids toward doing their best. And as positive role models, they help children of all ages learn the value of hard work and doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

“These people are very important in shaping who our kids are going to be,” said Bridget Barnes, a parenting expert with Boys Town’s Common Sense Parenting ® program. “So parents shouldn’t be afraid when their kids have mentors who are part of their child’s upbringing. It really does take a village to raise a child, and when kids have mentors, I think it really can make a huge positive impact.”

Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother gave Cinderella hope by dressing her up for the ball so she could meet her Prince Charming. Eventually, Cinderella slipped her foot into a glass slipper and found her happy ending.

Pinocchio didn’t know right from wrong. But with Jiminy Cricket as his mentor and conscience, the little wooden puppet learned how to tell the truth and be brave, earning his reward of becoming a real boy.

Splinter taught his young Ninja Turtles how to use their super powers for good. The four mutants took his lessons to heart and became famous and beloved superheroes.

In each story, a mentor took a young person under his or her wing and then helped that young person soar.

When a mentor comes into your child’s life, welcome him or her with open arms and an open mind.  Then watch your child grow.

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