A while back, I wrote asking my readers to tell me about any Auntie experiences. You can see it here. For me, being an Auntie also means being a mentor.
The response warmed my heart, and I loved reading them. While many related Aunt or Auntie as being the sister of their mother or father, some also saw Auntie as a title of respect for those who are older and wiser.
While through biology or marriage I am the Auntie to many, I also readily embrace my “adopted” nieces and nephews who are the children of my cousins, sons and daughters of friends, neighbors and coworkers. You can see many of them here.
One of my readers spoke of the Asian culture and the term Auntie referring to a woman who is one generation older. They’re seen as having life experience, wisdom, and deserving of respect.
You’ll find in this blog some pictures of my inspirations. They’re just a few of the young people who mean the world to me. I’m the Auntie–an honor for sure. To see more pix click on the link above.
Can anyone be an Auntie?
I suppose it takes a certain amount of energy and patience to be a good Auntie but what it really takes is a listening ear.
Young people want, and need, to be heard.
I don’t care whether they’re four or forty-four. They want some undivided attention to validate who they are.
I realized young children are often talked ‘at’ or told what to do as opposed to being asked to offer opinion, thought, or emotion.
I’m not saying parents should sit down and converse with their young children all the time. Omg, mass chaos and anarchy would follow. Children still need direction and discipline, but finding a balance is where it comes together.
And sometimes that coming together point is a special Auntie or Uncle who steps up and becomes an important part of a child’s life.
What keeps you from stepping up?
Is it time? Maybe your biological family is too far away. Do you interact with your best friend’s kids? Sometimes it’s about offering a different opinion, a safe place, or a pat on the back. Share your own experience without preaching, lecturing, or controlling the conversation.
Encourage don’t condescend. Be honest—sometimes brutally so—while keeping in mind you’re the older, more mature, and experienced in the conversation.
Aunties and Uncles remember.
Let yourself be found.
Sometimes that means reaching out and letting a young person know that you actually see them. It can be a gesture of forgiveness and understanding, or perhaps one of simple joy and building of memories.
Always remember the relationship between Auntie/Uncle and a young person is one of safety, unconditional openness, and non-judgement …Otherwise you’d be a parent and often they need more of a wise friend to lean on.
It’s never too late.
Even an adult still has an inner child that can handle some TLC.
If you see a parent struggling with a teen offer to listen to the teen’s side. They may appreciate it. Or if you see a parent of young children struggling to keep up with all the isolation, this year has heaped on us, offer to sit with the youngster and provide some attention.
And, to any young people who feel they need someone to talk to, go find that Auntie or Uncle who’s missing in your life. Contact me if you have a question or want me to discuss something specific. Remember leaning on someone with some life experience and wisdom doesn’t need to be absolute but it could be healing and you never know, you may learn a thing or two.
Is it worth it?
Yes. Yes. and Yes.
I personally adore and respect young people. I love their energy and clever ways of seeing the world. So many have great ideas and don’t know what to do with themselves. This pandemic has not helped. Click here to read a letter I wrote to young people everywhere.
There’s so much anxiety, depression, and fear in our world that if there were ever a time to reach out, now is the time.
Remember Auntie or Uncle doesn’t mean you’re a medical doctor or psychiatrist but you’re a good listener with resources and knowledge that a young person may not have. An Auntie or Uncle will help find the answers or solutions required and continue to be a mainstay in a young persons life. It’s a good thing.
Auntie Lesson: As this crazy year comes to a close, reach out and let those young people in your life know you’re there for them. Related or not—it simply doesn’t matter. Be a mentor. It matters.