Parental attachment and mentoring
Previous research on mentoring has primarily focused on outcomes associated with these relationships. This body of literature has shown that youths can reap academic, psychological, social, and vocational benefits from the support and guidance provided by these relationships. In addition to outcomes, there has been a slow, but steady, shift to understand the process, or experience, of mentoring from the perspectives of both the mentor and youth. Yet both of these lines of inquiry tend to presuppose that youths are ready, willing, and able to engage in a relationship with a mentor, as long as one is available. Indeed, other research shows that not all youths are ready to be mentored. Therefore, in an attempt to address the conceptual gap regarding the understanding of how youths come to participate in mentoring relationships, the current study used developmental frameworks to investigate precursors to youths' readiness to be mentored. Specifically, this study considered the role of demographic characteristics and parental attachment with eighth grade youths' readiness to be mentored. Readiness to be mentored was conceptualized as consisting of attitudinal and probable-action elements, based on help-seeking theory, and was assessed using adapted scales that were piloted in the current study. Youths in eighth grade from four K-8 elementary schools in the Northeast (N=104) completed self-report questionnaires assessing parental attachment, attitude towards seeking a mentor, likelihood to engage a mentor, demographic characteristics, and mentor characteristics. The gender differences that were hypothesized were not supported; rather, mentor presence was linked to positive attitudes towards seeking a mentor and increased likelihood to engage a mentor. Among the youths with mentors, aspects of parental attachment differentially predicted attitude towards seeking a mentor and likelihood to engage a mentor. Of particular interest was that those without mentors most frequently reported not needing a mentor. This finding draws attention to the understandings youths have of the role and potential utility of mentoring in their lives, and the factors that shape these understandings. Theoretical considerations, implications for future research, and practice implications are discussed.