This Christmas, take your first step toward changing a child’s life forever. Don’t just donate money to some faceless cause; become a child’s cool uncle. Even if you don’t have any nephews or nieces, find friends or coworkers with kids and be their “cool uncle.” There’s no limit to how many you can help, but every kid should have a cool uncle. The world would be so much better if every teen learned to taste whisky without gagging or not to bring their debit card to the strip club. How much better would young relationships be if guys knew that “loving” doesn’t mean “smothering?” Or if young girls knew that guys sometimes “love you” only for one night? These are all things the cool uncle teaches. While everyone has a story of the teacher who made a difference in their lives, those with stories of “cool uncles” are forever in their debt.Buy the irrational present
It doesn’t have to be the most expensive video game or remote-controlled car, it just has to be something their parents would never buy because they can’t justify it. It may be the $40 pair of princess shoes for a niece or the loudest laser gun for a nephew. Just ask yourself two questions: Does this gift completely lack any educational value? And will the parents hate it? If the answer is yes to both, you’re well on your way to being the cool uncle at Christmas.
Don’t talk to them like children
Children are smarter than most adults give them credit. They know when you’re talking down to them or hiding something. While you don’t have to start telling your most obnoxious drinking stories, don’t assume they only want to talk about puppies. Speak to them as if they’re on your level. Listen to what they say, and take them seriously. Be age appropriate, but don’t treat them like subhumans.
Make time just for them
After they open presents, take time away from the Bowl games to help program their new iPhone or check out their G.I. Joe collection. If you’re challenging them with their new Wii game, don’t just let them win. Feel free to taunt them good-naturedly. Even if they cry, they’ll respect you more later on. Not enough adults teach children how to bust each others’ balls, so they have to learn it from other kids. Clueless verbal sparring is like listening to puppies drowning.
Don’t be overly available
Treat the kids like you would treat a woman you just started dating: Be slightly aloof. Let them know that you have other things on your plate besides them. Don’t follow them around asking if they want to show you their fort or Barbie Dream House. This projects neediness. Kids don’t need that kind of stress. They can barely take care of themselves, let alone your lonely ass. Let them come to you. Then, don’t overstay your welcome. Leave on the early side — letting everyone know that you have other holiday blowouts to attend.
Give them your info
Don’t give them your Facebook account; that brings you down to a weird childlike level. Plus, that’s just creepy. However, give them your e-mail or cell phone number. Let them know that if they ever have a question or just want to chat, they can give you a holler. Just be sure that’s cool with the parents because if they suddenly find tons of unknown e-mails to you, that will give you a “to catch a predator” vibe. As they grow older, they will no doubt come to you with questions about sex, drugs and general stuff they’re not comfortable asking their parents about. You’ll be an exciting source of information for them, but know where to draw the line. Don’t try to be too cool and let a drinking problem or credit card craze go unnoticed. Know when to do something totally uncool: Tell the parents.
bob’s your cool uncle
Those steps will make you forever infamous in one child’s mind. You will stand above that English teacher who made a real difference or that football coach who taught the true meaning of confidence. Plus, for purely selfish reasons, you’ll get a true taste of parenting. That will let you know if you want kids of your own, or if you just want to keep mooching off others’ parenting experiences.
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