There are pivotal times in a child’s life when he or she needs someone, other than a parent, to talk to about life issues.
Why Can’t a Kid Talk to Their Parent?
Look, we all know mom and dad need to pay the mortgage, do the laundry, and all that other everyday important stuff that takes time away from their kids’ real time life. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s reality.
Parents are busy. So is Auntie or Uncle. But the relationships are unique. A kid going to their parent to discuss something may get a lecture or end up grounded, while talking it over with Auntie will find resolutions and life lessons takeaways.
Parents react. Understandable but that’s not what kids want or need.
Ground rules would need to be set between the mentor (Auntie/Uncle) to respect privacy and secrets but know enough when there are serious issues or dangers. While you can’t have a mentor running and discussing or disclosing things with the parents (that defeats the purpose), there needs to be limits set prior to allowing the relationship to continue.
The young person needs to know (right up front) that if there’s illegal activity, danger to someone, or life issues then Auntie/Uncle will have to inform the parent or accompany the youth to assist them in telling the parent (life issues could include things like pregnancy, coming out, gender confusion etc.)
Every kid wants to be heard for who they are. Does that make sense? They don’t want to be someone’s kid or brother or the straight A student…they want to be a unique individual.
Here’s the Reality… And it’s a Bit Scary.
While some kids talk to their friends, many (and I’m talking millions) go to websites like Reddit, YouTube, or Quora to ask strangers what they should do.
The advice on these sites is offered up from other teens with no practical know-how, or worse—from adults who share questionable life experience or wisdom because god knows they can’t solve their own demons so why not go online and throw some “wisdom” out there and screw someone else up.
Oh wait, let’s not forget about the troll who gives “life advice” between their prejudicial and/or destructive stalking of innocent people.
Ugh! The crap and rhetoric that gets tossed around these sites is sad, incomplete, and misleading, and regrettably young people are lapping it up as gospel truth.
They seriously need someone to assist and demonstrate how to deal with real-life issues. The notion of empowering the youth to stand for what they believe, while maintaining respect, practicing respect for self and striving to reach their potential, is key.
Why An Auntie? or Uncle?
When our kids need someone to talk to, we often think of a counsellor, a teacher or pastor, but we need to ask ourselves whether their roles in the young person’s life can go beyond the professional or spiritual?
It’s very individual, but what is missing is the special personal relationship that a young person already has with a family member—like an Auntie or an Uncle.
- An Auntie/Uncle is one who is always there and takes the time to discover the real issues.
- She/He/They offers a mature outlook on life and gives a different perspective.
- An Auntie/Uncle does not leave when the crisis ends—she/he/they are a special mainstay in the child’s life.
- Auntie/Uncle is a trusted family member who can offer a place of peace, solace, and cultured wisdom.
What Is An Auntie? Uncle?
An “Auntie” or “Uncle” is a mentor, a voice of reason, someone who challenges, teaches, and shares. If you look it up in a dictionary, the definition will be: the sister/brother of a father or mother. Meh, that’s only a small part of it. They don’t need to be a blood relation.
In many cultures, an “Auntie” is any mature woman who is respected for her wisdom and advice. She’s earned the right to speak out because of age and status. No bossy Aunties, or Uncles, allowed though. No way.
The wealth of experience and understanding can mean offering prudent direction to those with less understanding of the larger world.
I’m Auntie to many young people. I have over 50 nieces and nephews of my own and then there are my cousins kids, who all call me Auntie, many of the young people in my life have friends who also call me Auntie…It’s a blessing and they know I’m here.
Having a trusted family member (or friend), who shares from personal experience, doesn’t judge, and knows how to actively listen is what every parent wants for their kid.
While an adult mentor doesn’t need to be a blood relative, they do need to be someone the parent totally trusts. It doesn’t matter if they’re male, female, trans, nonbinary…None of that matters. Looking past all that, you’re seeking the best possible mentor for a young person. You want the Auntie/Uncle to:
- share similar faith and/or moral foundations
- offer alternative perspectives
- play devil’s advocate
- help set priorities
- challenge the status-quo
- keep both feet on the ground while building goals and dreams
- encourage or discourage
- make sure she’s only a phone call or a text away
The fact that an Auntie/Uncle can step up and offer sound, no-nonsense advice, and/or observations is invaluable. This doesn’t mean he/she supports poor decisions or negative behavior, but she can act as a sounding board or as a buffer for the kid who needs to talk to a parent.
To Work You Need Trust All Way Round…
The parents need to trust their child and know if there’s an issue with the Auntie/Uncle/Mentor that they will speak up.
The parents must also trust the mentor and know that they are acting in the best interest of the child.
The kid must trust the parents and the mentor–and the mentor needs to trust the parents, kid, and themselves.
Sometimes its just about being there to talk to and other times a young person may be in crisis. Either way, an Auntie/Uncle/Mentor can be invaluable.
The world has changed a lot in the last few years. Pressures –external and self imposed–are gobbling kids up. Many don’t know where to turn or what to do. It is healthy for them to build a relationship with a family member other than their parent.
For me, my mentors were my older sisters, for one kid I know he has a mentor in his cousin who is much older…
So long as the mentor Auntie/Uncle/Person has the youth’s best interests at heart and there is a connection between the two–that’s a gift.
Have a great week. xo