Young mentors’ relationship capacity: Parent–child connectedness, attitudes toward mentees, empathy, and perceived match quality

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4 Scopus citations


Because the responsibility of developing strong connections to mentees often depends on mentors themselves, examining mentor qualities and relational capacity may identify malleable factors—or potential points of intervention—to improve perceived match quality. Relational capacity has been proposed as a theoretical concept for understanding how mentors’ previous experience, characteristics, and skills relate to mentoring quality. Our conceptual model posited that parent–child relationships build young mentors’ relational capacity for successful mentoring relationships. Using data from young mentors age 15–26 participating in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters school-based mentoring program (n = 155), this study extends current knowledge by examining potential mediators of the relationship between young mentors’ perceived parent–child connectedness and perceived match quality. Attitudes toward mentees and empathy skills mediated the relationship between parent–child connectedness and perceived match quality. Findings suggest that parent–child connectedness contributes to attitudes and skills that may strengthen perceived match quality. From a positive youth development perspective, young mentors with low relational capacity may require support to ensure high-quality matches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)642-658
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/ or publication of this article: This project was supported by grant number 2012-JU-FX awarded Dr McMorris by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. In addition, Drs Doty and Mehus were supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under National Research Service Award in Primary Medical Care grant number T32HP22239 (PI: Borowsky), Bureau of Health Workforce.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2017.


  • Adolescents
  • empathy
  • mentoring
  • parent–child relationships
  • youth


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