A Message from the Fun Uncle: Mums, Your Kid Needs Me!
He may seem to be just another adult in your child's extended family, but the fun uncle can do and be so much more than being just another guardian.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. By now you’ve heard from other mums, ah ma, well-meaning dads and a whole chorus line of sisters. But what about the fun uncle? He has a role to play too!
The Fun Uncle
You’ve heard the saying countless times before: “It takes a village to raise a child.” This is especially true in a Chinese family where you are always surrounded by the extended family of cousins, uncles and aunts. Over the years, I have inevitably become an uncle to friend’s, siblings’ and cousin’s kids. I have gained valuable experience in being an uncle. Below are some guidelines in my pursuit of being an awesome, fun uncle – and reasons why uncles play a more important role in your child’s growth than you think.
The Importance of Boundaries
Before anything else, I always find out what are the parents’ “ground rules” – what’s permitted and what’s not. Kids will be kids. But they aren’t my kids, so I always ask and never presume. This builds trust.
At a family gathering, it’s often easy to stick with the adults, but the fun uncle takes time to talk to nieces and nephews. Uncles get to know them, just like any friend. They ask them about what’s been going on in their lives – what their favourite subject is, or just what’s happening in school. Other times, uncles simply join in the fun – getting on hands and knees and playing alongside them. They won’t blame you either if you beat a hasty retreat after losing a Pokemon fight.
I offer to babysit my sisters’ kids so my sisters can have their all-important “me” time. Uncles may not get the hang of babysitting immediately, but they can start slow until they gain more experience. A two-hour babysitting experience goes a long way to nurturing the ability to manage a stayover or week’s staycation during school holidays – a priceless luxury for the parents.
Let the Kids Be Kids
One of the most important roles of an uncle is the ability to let children be themselves. Away from their parents, children behave differently, sometimes a little goofy, or a little naughty, but always a whole load of themselves. Uncles let the kids be kids.
Fun Uncle = Fun Stuff
It’s an uncle’s duty to teach kids the fun stuff their parents might not let them do at home. Do and show them things they don’t usually experience – make things, catch a movie, go for a day out at the beach, enjoy a special dinner or simply walk your dogs. These are the things kids will look forward to and create a bond with them. If all else fails, just be spontaneous.
Besides birthdays, Christmas, and New Year gatherings, I keep tabs of key events in my nephews’ lives. Be it exams, piano recital, or a taekwondo graduation class, I make it a point to always send my best wishes, or better yet, be there to witness it myself.
Uncles don’t hesitate to give kudos to nieces and nephews for smaller achievements too. Celebrating is part of being the fun uncle.
Fun Uncle = Cool Presents
Cool uncles let the kids pick their own gifts. Better still, they let kids learn the value of money by working within a budget for things. I used to let my nephews loose at Toys R Us each year for them to pick their own gifts. These days presents are easier – books, iTunes cards or a contribution to their iPhone-fund. Entertain requests, but never overindulge.
Sometimes it is tough for children to understand their parent’s decisions – like why can’t they have the latest iPhone? Kids usually don’t see uncles as an annoying adult, so sometimes they will take your advice as opposed to the same advice coming from their parents. If you know your nephew is troubled, reach out. You might be surprised how welcome your advice is.
A Good Example
If you are successful, your nieces and nephews will think you’re one of the coolest dudes around. They will look up to you. Do your best to be a role model for them. Don’t do anything that would let them down.
Being an uncle isn’t easy, but you have the choice of how involved you want to be. It can be a unique chance to forge meaningful bonds. Be consistent and stay committed. Being the fun uncle is similar to, but also not at all like parenting. You can be a niece or nephew’s buddy, confidant, or role model. At the same time, you can be your own sibling’s stress reliever, support group member, or knight in shining armour.
This article was contributed by user L37 of theAsianparent Community. Join our community and DOWNLOAD our app now!