How NOT to End Mentoring Relationships

If you recall from my last post, Morris and I built up quite the strong relationship through consistent shared activities and relationship building conversations. From 14-17 years of age Morris grew up in front of my eyes, and I began to see the fruits of our relationship. He was trying harder in school, he became a leader to his peers at the neighborhood center, and he was becoming a better gentleman to the ladies. Things were going almost perfectly for Morris and I. That is until I had to move out of the state abruptly. Moving out of the state without implementing any relationship closure practices with Morris proved detrimental to our once mighty relationship. Detailed below are a few of the biggest mistakes I made in closing my first mentoring relationship, please do not make the same mistakes I made in closing or transitioning away from your mentees.

The first mistake I made was not communicating a firm relationship endpoint (or transition point) to Morris. A relationship endpoint delineates the actual time in which the relationship will end (or change), and gives the youth an opportunity to mentally prepare for the transition. Early on I was reluctant to reveal my actual moving date in a desperate attempt to avoid emotional distress. This was a big mistake. Hiding the relationship endpoint from Morris contributed to an unrealistic belief that I would never leave.

It would have been ideal to schedule a final meeting with Morris, his family and myself to celebrate our relationship and its transition to the next phase. Providing Morris the opportunity to reflect on his progress throughout our relationship would have likely facilitated a smoother transition to our separation.

The second mistake I made was not creating a post-match plan for continued success with Morris. A post-match plan is a set of guidelines to be implemented after the original relationship ends to ensure the accomplishment of the mentee’s personal goals (e.g. attending their college of choice, writing a song, reaching a target weight). Knowing Morris, it would have been beneficial to connect him to other individuals in his networks to be resources for him in route to achieving his goals.

Morris is now a 19-year old young man. To this day I love him like a brother and I believe he loves me the same, but I may have done permanent damage to our relationship when I moved away abruptly. I will never forget his words in our last conversation when he said, “ you just left me.” Ending or transitioning in a youth mentoring relationship is a delicate process that has a long lasting effect on a youth’s life, and if executed properly, it can empower youth to overcome any obstacle put before them.

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