Dear Uncles & Aunties, please stop doing this!!
I love my uncles and aunties. I genuinely love them and voluntarily choose to spend time with them. I’ve been blessed that most of my parents’ friends are actually fun to hang out with. However, there will always be some sly question or snarky comment that gets even the best of us. Uncles and aunties, please read this with an open mind. The purpose of this is to help you connect with your friends’ kids (or your kid’s friends) and develop a meaningful relationship with them. And full disclosure, I’m currently 30 years old and an aunty myself to my friend’s children and this is the same set of guidelines I use when I interact with them. However, I’m writing this article from my point of view from when I was younger and I was the one dealing with uncles and aunties.
Also, this isn’t a guideline for parents. Parents, raise your kids however you want – that’s none of my business. This is just for the adults that are dealing with other children.
Now let’s get to it!
a. We love talking about our educational aspirations with adults, but only when it is welcome and appreciated. We don’t want to tell you what intrigues us on an educational level when you’re going to tell me that this subject “will not provide me with a lucrative career.” I get it; you don’t want to see any child spend years studying a subject that will not flourish into a successful career. It’s very logical and you want to set the kid up for success. It’s a parent’s duty to guide their child in whatever they feel is the right direction, but it’s an uncle/aunt’s responsibility to instill self-confidence in a kid. We already have to face our parents for not choosing a career path that they want, don’t make it more difficult by asking us the same questions.
b. Please ask us about our careers and what we do for a living (we love sharing that information), but don’t make us have to prove to you that our careers are perfect because it is something you haven’t heard of. Don’t belittle us for not being an engineer. Understand that you can be successful and make 6 figures without going to medical school. Keep your ears open for careers that are fulfilling and bring job satisfaction to us (it could be of help in the future when your kids go through the same process).
a. This is HUGE. If there is one thing I could ban uncles/aunties from asking about – it’s this. We all know the questions: when are you getting married? Do you have a boyfriend? When are you going to settle down? I cannot stress how important it is that uncles and aunties IMMEDIATELY take these questions out of their conversation topics when talking to 20-, 30-something year olds. I can’t stop asking parents to stop asking this question (I wish I could), but I feel comfortable asking other adults to stop. Kids nowadays go through enough of a struggle with dating. Relationships that form when we’re in our teens or 20s get complicated and couples are trying to figure this out before getting to the step of marriage. We have pressure from the relationship, pressure from our parents, and pressure from uncles and aunties?!
b. As a matter of fact, uncles and aunties should stop asking our parents when we’re going to get married. The majority of parents stress their kids out about this because they feel the pressure from their social circles. If nobody asks them about it, they’ll more than likely cool off a little bit, allowing the kids to figure their lives out. Relationships nowadays are not as straight-forward as you would like for them to be and the fewer distractions we have, the quicker we can figure things out – it’s a win-win.
c. In addition, don’t ask us if we have boyfriends or girlfriends either. Dating is not easy for everyone. We have heartbreaks, trust issues, long-term compatibility issues, personal wants, career goals, and a number of other things to think about before we commit the rest of our lives to each other and the last thing we need to worry about is “What is Kamala aunty going to say if I don’t end up with Ram”. Don’t worry – we’ll let you know when we’re ready, but don’t fish for information.
3. A baby
a. This is my current stage of life and the question I don’t want to hear is: when are you going to have a baby? I used to think this was a normal question, but the closer my friends and I got to that part of life, the more I realized that this question is actually too personal to casually ask. First off, not everyone wants to have children. I know, super taboo and how dare any woman say that. This will go off into a tangent (which I will save for another time), but this is a real opinion and you have to respect that. Secondly, you have no idea what the couple’s health situation is like. Maybe they’ve been trying to have a baby for a while now. Maybe they have to go through fertility treatments (which are very expensive, emotional, and physically draining). Maybe they’ve had a miscarriage. Maybe they aren’t mentally, physically, or even financially ready. Who are we, as outsiders, to judge if that couple is ready or not. And lastly, maybe the couple has chosen to adopt or use a surrogate. In either of these cases, it takes a lot of time, money, and effort – none of which require the need for us to pry for information. Trust me, they will let you know when the child exists – you won’t be left in the dark.
a. We all know it’s rude to make a comment about someone being overweight. Uncles and aunties still do it – I don’t know why. Is it because they don’t know what else to say? Maybe it’s because our culture is so intertwined with food and they feel the need to comment on our weight? Maybe it’s because they are just blunt? Not sure, but we have to stop doing this. I’m sure most people that have gained weight, know that they have gained weight. There could be a number of health reasons that someone has put on some weight. We’re quick to judge how a person looks with a quick glance and fail to realize how this actually affects their life. We don’t need someone else telling us this. When it comes to close friends and family, yes, maybe it’s their right to mention something out of concern because of their close relationship. However, uncles and aunties need to stay out of it.
b. I also want to make it known that making a comment about how skinny someone is can be just as rude as making a comment to someone who has gained a few pounds. Contrary to popular belief, there are thousands of teenagers and young adults trying to gain weight in order to be their healthiest. We equate being skinny with being healthy and think we’re paying them a compliment, but actually, you’re bringing their self-confidence down. A lot of these adolescents may have eating disorders and other health issues that are preventing them from gaining weight and these comments are doing the opposite of making them stronger.
I consider this article a success if even one uncle/aunty (or anyone for that matter) read this and understood a point of view different from their own. I hope this article is a push in the right direction for people to just be kinder to one another. That’s all this boils down to – compassion for others.
A special thanks to Radhika Patel, Bharathi Rajendran, Aaratthi Thushyanthan, and Sasi Vedaiyan for their inputs.