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Act With Integrity

Be mindful of the meaning that is placed on plans and events.

Communication Breakdown

Like other relationships, mentorships hold potential for setbacks, confusion, and other conflicts. If poorly managed, these breakdowns can have negative outcomes for both parties. Let’s look at some examples. 

Missed Messages

In this digital era, contact between a mentor and the mentee involves text messages or cell phone use. Mentors may have impractical expectations regarding the frequency of contact. They may expect the mentee to respond to text messages and voicemail quickly. This can be difficult for some families who experience lapses in phone service due to cost. A mentor may view unanswered text messages as a sign of disinterest. They may move to terminate a relationship instead of reaching out for additional help.


Paying your mentee’s phone bill might seem like a solution. It prevents their phone from disconnecting. But think about what we learned earlier about setting boundaries. Paying the phone bill for one month sets up the expectation that you will do it again. Instead, you can connect the family with the Lifeline Assistance(opens in a new tab) program provided by the federal government. If they don’t qualify for Lifeline, you can broker the one-time payment through the mentorship program as an anonymous donation.

Unexpected Cancellations

Sometimes, families experience emergencies or have unexpected obligations that take them away from home. When this happens, they may miss an appointed meeting time.  Mentors may see this absence as disrespect or disinterest and move to terminate the relationship. Instead, work with the family and program director to determine what happened to cause the absence and how you can help in the future.

Mentee families aren’t the only ones that experience emergencies and unexpected obligations. As a mentor, you may experience these things in your life. If you neglect to inform your mentee when these things happen, it can leave your mentee feeling hurt or angry. They may grow distrustful of you in the future. As a mentor, you are an example to your mentee. You bear a greater responsibility to effectively and consistently communicate and show up for your mentee. You must seek guidance and consultation from the mentorship program’s staff when you cannot do so, no matter the reason.

Remember to conduct yourself with integrity when attending school meetings, meeting with other service providers in the mentee’s life, or when you are present in the mentee’s home. Be respectful of their customs and regularities.