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May 2017Vol. 18, No. 3Guide to Mentoring Children Growing Up Without Fathers

Having a father or father figure in a child's life contributes greatly to a child's well-being and positive outcomes. By offering a little time—as few as 12 hours per year—to a fatherless child, a mentor can make a large difference in a child's life. The National Fatherhood Initiative has put together a guide to encourage men to mentor children within their social networks who are growing up without fathers due to their father’s military service, business travel, incarceration, or other situations (e.g., death) that cause separation for an extended amount of time. This 19-page guide begins with a mentoring pledge, a brief introduction to mentoring, and breaks down mentoring into the following five points:

  • Find children in your "circle of influence"—This includes children who may be family members, living in the neighborhood, or a family member of someone living within the community.
  • Get permission—Ask permission from the child's mother or primary guardian and be clear about the types of activities the child will be partaking in.
  • Plan ahead—Make plans based on the child's interests and meet the child on their "turf."
  • Save your advice for later—Building trust is the first step to creating a meaningful mentoring relationship. Giving advice and trying to be a father figure should come second.
  • Encourage, encourage, encourage—Promote the child's interests as well as the importance of staying in school, going to college, and getting work experience.

The guide also offers a list of possible activities, tips for how mentoring boys and girls can differ, and mentoring organizations and resources that can help mentors get started.

To read the National Fatherhood Initiative's Guide to Mentoring Fatherless Children, visit (11,890 KB).