top of page

The Parent's Role

The friendship that is developed between a mentor and their mentee is a special relationship just for them, but as a parent you have an important role in the success of that relationship.


Think about how you are involved in other activities (i.e. sports, music, theater, etc) in which your child participates. You talk about the activity, make sure they attend all scheduled events, and communicate with an adult in the organization/club/team. 


Your role in the mentoring program will be similar. Below are some specific ways that you can help make your child’s mentoring experience successful.

With Your Child

  • Encourage your child to keep all meetings with the mentor, and have your child contact the mentor or program staff if they can’t make an appointment.

  • Be positive about the relationship, and let your child see you are happy that they have a mentor in their life.

  • Remind your child to thank their mentor and show appreciation for the time they spend together.

  • Ask open‐ended questions about how things are going. For example, “What was the best thing you did with your mentor today?” can yield more results than “Did you have a good time with your mentor today?”

  • Listen to your child and be supportive of their feelings. Be patient and encouraging.

  • Tell your child when you notice positive changes as a result of having a mentor. Your praise means a lot!


With the Mentor

  • Be sure to communicate with your child's mentor about your their time with your child. If possible, keep a weekly meeting time and day.

  • Remember that the mentor is there for your child, not for you or other children in your family. Don’t ask the mentor to take other siblings along on outings or to become your friend or counselor.

  • Let the mentor know about any important rules, food limitations, or times that your child is usually unavailable. If possible, give the mentor a calendar of your child’s other activities.

  • Don’t withhold meetings with the mentor as punishment. Remember that you and the mentor are a team. If your child is being “grounded,” work out a plan to ensure that the mentor can continue to see your child.

  • Let the mentor know when you have a change of address, phone, or other contact information, or if there is a significant change in your lives that may affect the relationship, such as moving away from the area or a loss in your family.

  • Show the mentor your appreciation! Write a thank‐you note now and then, or share improvements you’ve noticed in your child’s behavior.

  • If you have a concern you want to share with the mentor, do it when your child is not present to avoid the child’s being embarrassed or uncomfortable.


With Program Staff

  • Complete and turn in any needed paperwork in a timely manner.

  • Tell them anything you think they should know about your child that may not be covered in the application.

  • Help program staff members conduct regular check‐ins by returning phone calls quickly and taking some time to talk about how your child is doing. This is your chance to let staff know if you have a concern, or if things are going really well.

  • Let program staff members know right away about any changes in your contact information or other changes that may affect the mentoring relationship, such as moving away from the area or a loss in your family.

  • Attend parent orientation, meetings, and annual celebrations if available. Programs appreciate your interest and involvement, and so will your child!

RESOURCE: The above tips can be found in the Parent's Guide to Mentoring.

Our Expectations of Parents

  • Assist your child in communicating with their big buddy to set up a weekly time to meet.

  • Provide transportation to and from the college at the scheduled times

  • Notify the mentor if your child is unable to attend their meeting time

  • This is a special time for your child to have a friend all to themselves. Please do not have additional children (friends or siblings) at these meetings.

  • Notify Executive Director of any concerns, questions or if your child is not meeting on a regular basis or if your child no longer wishes to continue with their mentor.

  • Notify mentor and Executive Director if any contact information changes. Be sure it's always current!

  • Be accountable and stay in touch, it's important to your child.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of Project Friendship?

Project Friendship is designed to give your child an opportunity for a one-on-one relationship with a Carleton or St. Olaf student. The mentors, who go through an in-person interview and background check, are there to act as a positive role model and confidant for your child. These relationships can provide guidance, friendship, and support. 


Can other family members or I go with my child and the mentor?

As stated before, this relationship is special because it is one-on-one. Children often find it beneficial to talk with someone other than Mom or Dad. We strive to have your child develop a safe, confidential, and trusting relationship with their big buddy. Please be respectful of their private time together. Mentors are also not babysitters and are not responsible for other children other than their little buddy.


When will my child meet with their big buddy? 

Meetings will be on a day that works well for everyone's schedule. Project Friendship has no scheduled meeting times or specified location. Mentors have made a commitment to 1 hour each week, so we would encourage you to meet that as well. Mentors are not allowed to give your child a ride in their personal cars at any time. As a parent, it is up to you to provide transportation for your child. The mentor may meet you somewhere other than campus or they may walk somewhere as long as you have approved it. If you have to cancel a meeting for any reason, please let your mentor know right away and reschedule as soon as you can. It is important for your child to know that their time with their mentor is consistent week to week and it is best if they can remain on a schedule. 


What kinds of activities will they do together?

Many of our matches do some sort of physical activity, such as walking around campus or playing games. Some matches like to bake cookies or cakes and others enjoy simply talking with each other. It is up to the pair to determine what activity they will do. Feel free to talk with your mentor if you do not want your child doing a particular activity. Project Friendship is not intended to be a tutoring program and we encourage our mentors do fun things with their buddies!


Who will pay for activities of the mentor and my child?

Mentors are not required to spend any money out of pocket for activities. Most activities are free and utilize the beautiful campuses we have here in Northfield. If any money is needed to be spent, the mentor and mentee would be responsible for those individually.


What if the mentor says something with which I do not agree?

We take great care in matching our mentors with each child, but no match can be 100% perfect, and you may find that your beliefs and ideas differ from those of the mentor. It is okay to tell you mentor that you do not want them discussing certain topics that are important to you. Open communication is key.


How often should I be in contact with the mentor and how much should I say about family problems/concern?

As important as it is for your child to feel comfortable with their mentor, it is also important for you to be comfortable with leaving your child with their mentor. Talk to them, get to know them, and let them get to know you. Use open communication and always be honest, especially if something concerns you. Always avoid talking about your child to the mentor in front of your child. 


Who do I contact if I have questions/concerns that I don't want to discuss with the mentor?

Please feel free to contact Holly Schoenbauer, Executive Director, with any questions or concerns. She is here to help ensure that your child have the best experience possible. She can be reached by phone at (507) 301-7705 or by email at



bottom of page