Top 3 Things You Need to Know About Boundaries in Mentoring

May 19, 2014

This month marked our first on-going training session series for Casa Chirlagua mentors. Held on a Thursday night at our office, the session brought a great turnout. Speaking on boundaries in mentoring, Mariela Aguilar, a veteran mentor with 14 years of experience, shared her wisdom on how to set boundaries within a mentoring relationship. Mariela’s personal stories illustrated how boundaries paid off in the long run and helped both her and her mentee throughout their relationship.


Her mentee now volunteers at the library where Mariela works, gaining experience to help her in her future career. We’re looking forward to more training sessions that will help our mentors establish and maintain healthy and effective mentorships – just like Mariela’s. Below are a few of the highlights from the training, eoncompassing the top 3 things you need to know about boundaries in mentoring:


1. Always respect the role of the parent. A mentor cannot and will never replace a parental role for a mentee. 

At Casa Chirilagua, we recognize parents love their children and know their children MORE deeply than we can ever know them. Mentors are invited to support parents in bringing out the potential of their children. When a child knows the mentor cares for and supports the role of the parent, the child feels supported in his/her family environment.


2. Be firm with your boundaries. At times your mentee will want you to fold, but you cannot give in.

A mentor should always aim to provide a safe and loving environment in their mentorship. Boundaries help maintain a safe environment for both the mentor and the mentee and help them grow relationally. When boundaries are unclear or loosely enforced, the mentorship can suffer from unrealized expectations and can emotionally damage the relationship. Sometimes being firm with boundaries is easier said than done. When a mentor feels a boundary is being pushed or crossed, the mentor should stop and think: “Is this beneficial for my mentorship?” If the answer to this question is no, the mentor should remind the mentee of the boundaries and affirm what is best for the mentorship.


3. You are the adult. If you lead well, your mentee will follow.

In the mentorship, the mentor is the adult in the relationship and should lead well. Children naturally push and test boundaries. If a mentee successfully oversteps a clearly understood boundary, it is the responsibility of the mentor to lead well by clearly re-establishing the boundary and providing a teachable moment for the mentee. Good leadership in relational boundaries on the part of the mentor will establish a safe environment to maintain a healthy relationship and prevent some difficulties from occurring in the mentorship.  


If you’re interested in learning about upcoming Mentoring training sessions or would like more information about becoming a Mentor with Casa Chirlagua, please email me, Adriana Gomez, at

We are a community of people “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves” in a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

As a faith-based Christian non-profit with a small staff and over 100 volunteers, we serve alongside more than 100 families and their children (1st-12th grades) each week through our community programs.

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Our relational network of volunteers and donors reflects a diverse group of individuals from all over the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a non-profit, we rely on the community for assisting program directors on-site, being mentors, supplying the needs of our food pantry, and everything in between. Each member of our Casa community holds a unique gift, whether time, talent or treasure.