Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Aunt-Niece Relationship Is Special

From Terri Carlson, in California

The aunt-niece relationship is very special, and different from the mother-daughter relationship. You can offer advice and suggestions in a less emotionally loaded atmosphere.

I joined my niece on the guided tours of UCLA and USC where we talked about areas of academic interest, sports and how decisions you make in high school affect your opportunities in later years.

My niece was accepted to a full International Baccalaureate (IB) in a high school that didn't offer advanced placement (AP) classes. On the campus tours the guides kept mentioning IB and AP classes, which show you can take on challenges. My niece asked her mother to enter the full IB program or transfer to a high school that offered AP classes.

In New York my nieces and I have gone shopping for an outfit to wear, then to dinner, followed by a Broadway show. Shows are spectacular for opening up political or social topics. After we saw a show about young people dating I suggested my niece always remember to take cash for a cab ride home when going on a date.

When they were younger I asked them during dinner to critique my manners. I sent them a copy of Tiffany's Table Manners for Teenagers, telling them jokingly that the book solved the disputes in my household.

"I'd love to have dessert, but I haven't exercised enough today to burn the calories," I share with my niece.

I always fit in some exercise aspect such as a power walk before a big meal. One niece is an excellent athlete and her mom is a runner so she has the confidence that sports give a young woman. We talk about organizing time for school and volunteer work, incorporating her community service hours with her sports and encouraging her to look at other opportunities.

I enjoy being a source of encouragement that is less threatening than a mother. I love taking them places.

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