Dear Savvy Auntie,

I'm feeling desperate for advice.

First, quick background info about me: I'm 26, I have 5 siblings, 13 blood nieces & nephews, plus 7 more from marriages, and a few nieces & nephews I’ve "adopted". There's a huge age difference between me and my siblings so we aren't really in each others’ daily lives.

So recently I've started to spend time with one of my 16-year-old nieces. She'll be a junior when school starts. Today I was spending time with her and I asked her what she plans to do after she graduates. She has absolutely no idea! I asked the typical, “what do you want to be when you grow up.” Still no idea. I was so shocked that she didn't have any dreams. She said she'd never been asked. (Her background's a bit complicated...) I listed some careers that I could think of but she was so clueless as to what any of them really were. I know at this age she doesn't have to have a concrete plan, but I think she should have a little idea of what interests her. I want to inspire her, I want to give her options, I want to show her what's out there. But I don't know how/where in the world to start!

Auntie Advisor

Dear Auntie Advisor,

You must be a very caring auntie to pay so much attention to your niece when you have such a large family! Take heart…you have already started the process for her to think about what she might want to do. I suggest rather than a direct question or specific suggestions you just pick up on anything she seems interested in; then compliment her by saying, “you are really good at…” It can be as prosaic as her mentioning how cute the puppy is, how pretty a piece of clothing is, how good a book is or what a mean friend so-and- so is. SO, talking about how much she likes animals, what a good eye she has, how she is a discerning reader, and how perceptive she is about other people…well, you get the idea. Her sense of herself will expand and aspects of her self will become clearer. I can’t think of a better way to inspire a 16-year-old or anyone for that matter.

Happy “Auntying”,
Natalie Robinson Garfield

Content Rating