Finding Mentors in Surprising Places
Graham Blanchard’s Mom Mentors devote their time to supporting other women in the journey of motherhood and faith. We were curious to know where they look for support when they need it. Their answers might help you, too.
Q: Who has been the most important mentor in your life as a mom and how?
Julie Kieras: When it comes to my own Mom Mentor, there have been so many
other moms who have taught me much about being a parent. Most importantly, my own mother has been a source of comfort, support, and encouragement. I can call her any time and ask any silly parenting or motherhood question I want – which is such a relief when you don’t know how to handle a tantrum-toddler or how to make it through yet another day of sick kiddos.
My mom and I are definitely two different types of mothers – she was always the homebody type, and I like to have adventures! But still, her advice and wisdom, or just a shoulder to cry on have been invaluable to me as a parent! I also want to give a nod to other moms-of-boys: I think finding other moms who have similar family situations and befriending them (or just observing how they parent) can add another mentor to your life as a mom. I’ve known many moms of boys that I look up to and admire. My prayer is that someday I may be that mentor figure to another mom, and help her along her way!
Tiffany Malloy: I’ve spent a lot of my last 10 years moving around (making consistent mentors hard to find), but despite this, I’m so blessed with a few women in my life that I can reach out to for guidance and encouragement. There’s a friend in Pennsylvania whom I call when my elementary kids have caught some weird new habit at school and I have to know if it’s normal or not.
There are a couple ladies in Missouri who have 5+ kids who I email, asking for advice on intentional parenting or whatever current parenting struggle I’m going through. I’ve found that these ladies have been particularly helpful because they know the unique struggles of having a gaggle of kids. Most recently it’s been about how to parent children as individuals instead of a herd!
Here in Madison I have a few friends who are amazing sources of encouragement, reminding me that until my youngest is 3, I’m still in the parenting fog stage, so relax.Finally, I have one mom friend in Kenya who is an incredible source of wisdom and gentleness, and brings a sense of cultural clarity to my parenting for which I’m so grateful!
Susan Heim: I moved away from my family in Michigan to Florida when I was 21, so I never had the advantage of living near family members when I started having children. I was on my own, particularly through 10 years of single parenting.
But I never lacked confidence in my parenting skills thanks to my earliest experiences in child-rearing. Starting from the age of 12, I was known as the neighborhood babysitter! It started out with the two little girls next door, a baby and a 4-year-old, and grew from there. I learned a lot from the parents I babysat for, and their trust in me to care for their precious children helped me to feel capable and knowledgeable. By the time I became a parent, I’d probably changed thousands of diapers, soothed many colicky babies, and prepared an infinite number of meals and bottles of formula. I am so thankful that God gave me these experiences. Even though I lacked mentors when I became a parent, I could always rely on my babysitting history to provide the skills and self-assurance I needed. A lot of prayer never hurt, either!
Kona Brown: One thing I’ve found helpful in my mommy journey has been to glean from the methods and perspectives of moms I respect, be it practical, emotional of spiritual inputs, to add to my own bag of “mommy tricks”. My friend Marie is a missionary. I learned from her that my children’s routine, stability, behaviour had to be based on where I was, not where they were. The missionary life has many uncertainties and many changes, but she set herself up as the constant, and that consistency gave her children security and structure, regardless of what was happening around them or where they were.
From my mom I learned the value of praying for my children. Not just because some of those prayers were answered because not all of them were. And not because her prayers came with a guarantee. But that daily (re)establishment of my dependence on God to walk by faith as a mom in prayer is a guaranteed outcome that continues to humble me as I try to keep from parenting in my own strength. The best mentors are the ones who help you find your own voice, path, rhythm and connect you to God’s vision for you. I hope I can be that mommy-friend for someone else one day.
Chere Williams: I have been incredibly blessed to come across some amazing women in my lifetime. However, the most influential mentor in my life is my mother. One of the biggest ways my mom has been a mentor to me is by teaching me that fiercely loving your child is okay and not to make excuses for that love. I have always felt a sense of safety with my mom, and I strive to instill that same sense of security in Anya. I didn’t fear taking risks because I knew she believed in me…she was my safety net. But, I did have boundaries and she made no apologies for that either. For me as a mom that is key. My mom is my best friend, but there were no blurred line and I respect her as my parent and that’s a delicate balance, that I’d like to imitate in my relationship with my daughter. She never ceases to support me, pray for me, love me, give me grace, and a kick in the pants when I need it which is how I try to parent. What better mentor to have than my momma!
Jill Williams: I am the mom I am today because of so many women in my life, most certainly including my own mother and amazing friends from whom I have learned much. Picking the most important one is difficult. However, one specifically helped me – a thinker – learn to better connect with and enjoy my children relationally.
Over 10 years ago, I asked a play-therapist friend at church a question about our pre-school aged son’s behavior. Instead of giving me an answer, she gave a year of teaching me how to relate with my child and give him words to identify his emotions, to put limits on his behavior and to offer him alternative options.
In order to do this, she first had to give me words for emotions that I didn’t have; I needed a cheat sheet of “feeling” words in order to acknowledge the feelings expressed by my son. This began a journey of my becoming more aware of my own emotions, as well. It is a journey which has multiplied into years of impact regarding how I relate with and actively love my family.
Thank you, Mom Mentors! Learn more about them here and connect with their blogs. We would love to hear about your experiences, too! Do you have a question for them? Please post it below. And share your answer with us. See children’s books for growing up in God at grahamblanchard.com.