Roger Bruner is the author of Found in Translation (Barbour Publishing, Inc., 2011)and its sequel, Lost in Dreams (Barbour Publishing, Inc. , 2011). In Found in Translation, the main character, Kim, receives help and support from the older male leaders of the trip. I really loved seeing that. Mentoring is often absent from a lot of current YA novels. I  think kids though need and want it. I asked Roger to explore this topic a little more.

Roger, young women want the support of their fathers, uncles and grandfathers. How do you think these men can show these important women in their lives that they are valuable?

Time is one of a man’s most precious commodities, so I would say dads, uncles, and grandfathers need to spend as much time with the young women in their lives as possible without intruding into young women’s lives or putting young women ahead of their own spouses.

As hard as it is for me to believe, Kristi is twenty-five now. She lived with her mother a third of the country away from me for two years, but we stayed in touch. When she came back here to live during her senior year in high school, we spent enough time together that I look back at our time together fondly. And I sure hope she does, too!

Spending time isn’t enough, though. We, men, need to listen and do our best to understand. I think we should be honest enough to say, “I really don’t understand what you mean. Can you pretend I’m a little kid and try again, please?”

Along with spending time and listening goes taking a genuine interest in whatever interests them. I still can’t believe I went shopping with Kristi for a prom dress, but I did—and I’m told I gave some important input, not to mention my final approval.

As strange as it might sound, I think men should be “men” and learn to say “no” to the younger women we care about. And we should encourage the adult women in our lives to do the same. Kids don’t need and shouldn’t have everything.

What do you think dads, uncles, and grandfathers should refrain from doing in their relationships with these special young women?

Considering what I just said about saying “no,” the obvious answer is not to spoil our favorite young women. They are, after all, our daughters, nieces, or granddaughters, and we cannot and should not try to buy their friendship.

Men—women, too—need to be careful to avoid the “when I was young” temptation. Things have changed so much that we can’t even imagine what today’s kids are going through.

I think we should also be careful not to push the young women in our lives towards our own unfulfilled dreams and goals any more than we should push our sons, nephews, and grandsons.

We should also prevent them from becoming over-involved in activities, even if each of them is worthwhile in and of itself. Growing up is a process, and teens—like younger children—ought to have enough free time to enjoy it.

Thank you, Roger.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer, and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) Two of her published works for children are Marty’s Monster and Jessica Jacobs Did What?  For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

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