Becoming A Man: Words Of Wisdom To My Nephew

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18 years ago I held a little baby boy fully aware he had already stolen my heart. Though not my own child, he would be no less a major part of my life. My nephew, Junior. 

My oldest daughter was a blessing that came to our family via adoption at a year and a half. So we did not really have to navigate the baby stage yet. Junior was the first baby I ever held. My first learning experience with a new born. 

To my nephew, Junior, on your 18th Birthday: 

So quickly those years have faded into my memory. In what felt like an instant that baby I held, became a teenager and now becomes a man. I am torn between the pride I feel and the pain that I feel in seeing you so eager to take on the world. I am excited to watch you do amazing things. 

I wish I could take all of my experience and my knowledge and just graft it into you. To have the ability to give you a jump start on all you will learn about the world and yourself. But you, unfortunately, have to earn that all for yourself. So what advice can I give you that will hopefully stay with you as you embark on your journey?

 

Respect your youth 

You are never going to be this young again. Take care of your body, it will last longer. This is a piece of advise I wish I had gotten when I was your age, and it is often not until you are my age that you wish you had listened. 

 

Respect your elders 

This is more than just some cliché that you hear people say to kids. Some of my most valuable advice comes from older men who I look to as mentors. Find a mentor and be accountable to him. Don’t get hurt when he speaks truth into your life. 

 

Respect other people’s hearts

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Always be respectful of other people’s hearts, especially with those that you love. Don’t allow anyone to be disrespectful with yours. Having a heart and caring about others is not a sign you are weak, but rather that you are strong. It is not always easy to put another’s needs before your own and it is certainly not the cultural norm. Often those who are hurting need someone to stand in the void for them, be that man. 

 

Get to know your parents

Not the parents who have raised you until now, the one’s you will see them become. I say this from experience, they will be different people as you grow older. Get to know them, always make time for them, you never know when they may be gone. Love your siblings, they are more like you than anyone else on this planet will ever be. They are a link to your history, and the one person most likely to stick with you when things get dicey. Live near them, raise your kids with their kids. They will benefit more from having their extended family near them on a regular basis than practically anything else you can do for them. 

 

Experience life

This is important now at your age, and even more important when you have a family. Give your kids experiences, when they are grow they won’t look back at their childhood and remember that bike you bought them or what video game system they had. What they will remember is when you took them on vacation, or the time you took them camping, or just the time you took them to work with you. Look back at your own childhood and tell me I’m wrong. 

One final one, that I only included because of the career path I see you taking:

 

Always respect the people who are waiting at home for you 

Before you put your life in harms way, stop and breathe. Prepare yourself for what is to come, have a overwhelming sense of self preservation. Remember the people who love you and count on you to come home safely. Right now you are someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s nephew, and someone’s big cousin. But someday you will be all of those things along with someone’s husband and someone’s daddy. Love your Mom now and someday your wife and remember the sacrifice they make as they watch you head off to risk your life serving others. You will never feel the agony they feel as they worry about you. 

 

Role Models

I love you Junior. For so many years you and your brother were the closest thing I had to having a son of my own. Now as I have a son he will have you as another role model to look up to. I hope I have been a good example to you and a role model in your life. Hopefully someday you will have the honor of sharing the example I have been to you with your nieces and nephews. Everything I am is a direct result of amazing uncles I had growing up, and that is what I have always strived to be for you. I am here always no matter the time or place. 

 

Happy 18th Birthday Junior,
Love Always, 
Your Uncle (The Bearded Dad)

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Joe and his wife Kim reside in Arizona. They are high school sweethearts, and have been married for 25 years. They have 3 beautiful daughters, and one adventurous son. You can read more of his writing on his blog here: www.thebeardeddad.com You can follow him on FB: @TheBeardedDadBlog IG: @thebeardeddadblog and Twitter: @TheRealBeardDad.