One of the best things I have done for my son D. was persuade him to meet his future mentor. It was the push he needed to begin the journey back to himself (after months of hospitalization and drug abuse).

If I were to ask

What is a mentor?

Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé)”.

Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. However, true mentoring is more than just answering occasional questions or providing ad hoc help. It is about an ongoing relationship of learning, dialogue, and challenge.The person in receipt of mentorship may be referred to as a protégé (male), a protégée (female), an apprentice or, in recent years, a mentee.

There is a wide range of available mentoring programs. You can find mentors for students, teachers, people with disabilities, minorities, women, pregnant or parenting teens, foster care givers and recipients, prisoners, senior citizens etc.; there is professional mentoring, business mentoring, management mentoring, community mentoring, art-based mentoring …

So, about one and a half years ago, D. was using drugs ( He floated in a brainpower-dimming haze, oblivious of his surroundings and totally neglecting himself. It was near impossible to communicate with him. As soon as he was halfway sober he’d rush to get the next smoke.

I had to find someone who could reach D. and help him get out of his isolation.
And, I needed to find a way to get my son to agree to meet this someone.

One of D.’s favorite pastimes and the only thing he did even when he was on drugs was play backgammon. Backgammon, the magic word! The call was for a mentor who likes playing backgammon. And who plays well!

I found Yaron. Yaron, 53, was so relaxed (and handsome! I wouldn’t have thought twice if he’d offered me his services … 😉 ) and obviously experienced with problematic youngsters and mental health issues. Yaron was not shocked by D.’s dirty appearance. At their second meeting he simply asked D. to change the shirt he hadn’t taken off since the last time they had met.

In the beginning of their mentor-mentee relationship D. and Yaron would meet in our place once a week for about an hour (later on they spent more time together) and play backgammon!  Sometimes Yaron would take D. out to eat or to some other place. And they communicated! Yaron was a magician! I was not present at their meetups so I don’t know how he did it. I just saw the gradual change in my son, his opening up and the fact that after some time he no longer waited for Yaron to call him but called him himself to fix a day for their next meeting. He wanted to see Yaron!

About two months into their acquaintance D. quit the drugs. He says that it was thanks to his ex-girlfriend who told him that he had turned into an aimless drugged bummer with no aspirations in life, words that shook him to the core. I have no doubt that Yaron deserves a fair share of the credit for my son’s decision to give up drugs.

Yaron became one of the most important people in my son’s life and, according to D., one of the few truly intelligent people he ever met (Today they talk philosophy…). Yaron even found D. a job.

To a certain degree Yaron also became a father substitute. (The last time D.’s real father felt the need to see his son was about two and a half years ago, when he visited him ONCE during the several months of D.’s hospitalization. Since then, their relationship consisted only of phone conversations. Until recently, when my son asked his dad whether he didn’t miss him and didn’t long to see him. The answer this emotional cripple gave his son was: “I don’t understand why a [young] person needs to see his father.”!

Since then, D. says he has no father. )

In Israel, psychiatric and psychosocial rehabilitation services funded by the Ministry of Health include mentor services. However, to be eligible for these services an applicant has to be free of drug use for at least six months prior to receiving the service. So in the case of my son, I had to pay for the mentor service out of my own pocket for over a year.

It was worth the sacrifice and I am so happy I did it!