Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

9P The Invisible Hand In Mentoring Relationships: Parents' Role In the Mentoring Relationship: Parent, Mentor and Agency Perspectives

Friday, January 13, 2012
Independence F - I (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Antoinette Basualdo-Delmonico, MA, Doctoral Student, Boston University, Boston, MA
Background and Purpose: This qualitative interview study examined the role of parents in one-to-one youth mentoring relationships from the perspectives of mentors, parents of the youth and agency staff. Research on youth mentoring relationships has focused primarily on the youth participants and has had little to say about the role of parental involvement in the mentoring relationship. However, research on the efficacy of youth mentoring programs indicates that programs which engage and support parents tend to demonstrate more positive youth outcomes (DuBois, Holloway, Valentine, & Cooper, 2002). Given the paucity of attention to this aspect of the mentoring process, this study sought to examine the nature of parental involvement in formal youth mentoring relationships from multiple perspectives.

Methods: In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with parents of youth participating in a mentoring match, the volunteer mentors matched with the children of these parents and staff members from the mentoring programs from which the mentor and parent participants were drawn. Twenty-nine cases were selected from among 67 mentoring matches that were part of a larger longitudinal study of youth mentoring relationships. These cases were either Established (n=15) mentoring relationships that lasted a minimum of 12 months or Dissolved (n=14) matches that were matched for at least 6 months, but ended before reaching 12 months. Each mentoring case analyzed included at least 2 qualitative interviews with each mentor (n=29) and parent (n=29) at each time point of their participation during the first year of the mentoring match. In addition, for this study 12 agency staff members were interviewed one time each. Descriptive understandings of each participant's individual perspective were constructed through thematic coding (Boyatzis, 1998) and commonalities and differences in the themes were examined within and across the three groups of participants

Results Three themes emerged regarding parental roles from comparisons of the perspectives of the parents, mentors and agency staff: a) distinct and active roles that parents played to support their child's mentoring relationships, b) a mismatch of expectations or hopes among parents, mentors and agency staff regarding the roles parents should play in their child's mentoring relationship, and c) indirect patterns of communication between mentors, parents and agency staff.

Conclusions and Implications: In light of Dubois, (2002) findings that parental involvement can serve to positively influence youth mentoring relationships, there is need to more fully understand the parental role in the mentoring process. This study offers insight into parental involvement as a more purposeful process than previously understood and highlights the many roles that parents are playing behind the scenes. Due to differences in expectations and lack of communication between parents and program staff, the findings here suggest that programs may be missing opportunities to tap into an important and undervalued resource for supporting and or strengthening youth-mentoring relationships. Further these finding can help to inform programs on the value of capilatlizing on parental involvement to maximize the potential benefit for youth in formal mentoring relationships that programs faciliatate and support.