It’s in Homer’s Odyssey where we first learn about Mentor. When Odysseus, King of Ithaca, leaves to fight the Trojan War, he relegates the care of his household and more importantly, his son Telemachus, to Mentor. Mentor was charged to serve as teacher and overseer of Telemachus while Odysseus was gone. From this Greek mythological tale, the meaning of the word mentor grew to mean a trusted advisor, friend, teacher, and wise person. Many examples of mentoring relationships can be found throughout history in the stories of Socrates and Plato, Freud and Jung, Hayden and Beethoven, Eli and Samuel, David and Solomon, Moses and Joshua, Emerson and Thoreau…even between Obi Wan Ben Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker.
Dawn Carroll, award winning designer and writer along with Patti Austin, Grammy award winner, have created the Over My Shoulder Foundation, whose goal is “to raise awareness of the impact of mentoring.” Carroll says “Without support and emotional sustenance, without a positive influence in our lives we can become lost, disconnected, and unstable…” Austin goes on to say, “Through mentoring, we are all increasingly interdependent on each other, rather than independent individuals.”
I can think of no one who, at times feels like a completely independent individual without support and emotional sustenance, than a police wife. It comes with the territory. Shift work leaves us alone much of the time. Society’s opinion of law enforcement currently provides us with little comfort or support. Life with an officer is often void of emotional connections. Much of what we read and hear about the police is definitely not positive. It doesn’t take long for young police wives and girlfriends to feel like they are an island unto themselves.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way! Find someone to guide you through the police life. Find someone who has “been there and done that.” Find someone who is willing to invest in you and your police spouse. Find someone who will devote time and energy to helping you be a successful police wife. Find a “more-knowing other.” I think it’s important for mentors to possess certain qualities. Here are a few to keep in mind as you find your mentor!
- Good mentors are good listeners
I have learned that sometimes, I just need someone to listen to me. It’s usually at a time when I recognize that nothing can be done about my situation but I still want to gripe about it just a wee bit. I don’t need you to do anything for me. I don’t need or want you to make suggestions to me about how to fix the problem. I just need someone to listen to me and validate my feelings. Then, I can recover from whatever is ailing me and move on.
- Good mentors won’t let you wallow forever
Now that I got #1 out of the way…I’ll confess. Sometimes—just sometimes–I have a teensy little trouble moving on. Sometimes—not always—I want to keep talking about my problem over and over. I can “beat a dead horse” with the best of them! When THAT happens, I need someone who will indeed listen and validate my feelings for a little while. But, then I need someone to help me recognize it’s time to leave the dead horse by the road and get on with life. If you can fix it—do it; if you can’t—move along!
- Good mentors won’t air your dirty-policy-laundry
A good mentor knows the value of confidentiality. If they are truly interested in you and helping you be the greatest police wife you can be, they won’t be telling others how badly you are doing. You certainly don’t want to air your dirty-police-laundry to someone who will find delight in telling others. Just remember, if someone is talking about other police wives to you….they’re talking about you to other police wives. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
- Good mentors are emotionally healthy
If you are a member of a police-wives group on social media (or in real-life), be sure they are an emotionally healthy group! Are all the conversations negative? Is everyone complaining about something? Are they blaming the department for all their problems? If the answer to any of these questions is YES…they are running fever and you need to stay away. Remember my last post and the negativity bias??
- Good mentors don’t judge
Some days the kids eat sugary cereal for breakfast AND dinner. Some days, you never get your make-up OR your clothes on. Some days your husband is wearing a dirty uniform AND dirty underwear. Some days you say bad things about him AND the kids. Some days you say bad things about the sergeant AND the lieutenant AND the captain. Good mentors know all marriages go through trials, all children misbehave, all police wives are human and make mistakes. Good mentors won’t judge you—or your husband!
- Good mentors are willing to share
A mentor who cares, shares. They share times when they have felt just like you…or worse. They share times they were able to successfully navigate police-life problems and how they did it. And, they are equally willing to share times when they were not so successful at it. As Yoda so eloquently said, “Pass on what you have learned.”
- Good mentors will invest in you
Investing in others. It’s important. It takes time and energy to devote yourself to the betterment of another. It’s knowing when you need a quick phone call just to check in and knowing when you need to go to Starbucks for a longer conversation. It’s knowing when it’s time for a girls-night-out. It’s an offer to watch the kids for a couple of hours or pick them up from school. It’s a quick email or a funny card in the mail. It’s an investment of time in YOU!
Find yourself a good police-wife-mentor. You’ll be glad you did!