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February 8th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Some good news to share today.

My sister called to tell me she’s going to have a baby, and not exactly in those words.  What she actually said was, “You’re going to be an uncle.”

For 28 years, I have lived my life being one of the three things: Older brother, son, grandson.  I have embraced all of them and wear them proudly, but I would be lying if I said I was ready to be an uncle.

Uncle Jozen sounds so grown to me, more grown than I care to admit. Even though my sister is three years my junior, she along with her boyfriend are more ready than I am to bring a child in the world. Honestly, my idea of helping out with babysitting duties is making phone calls to try and find a babysitter.

But ready or not, this child is coming, and I am going to be its uncle. A few people say to me, “Jozen, you will make a great uncle” but I honestly don’t even know what that means.

When I was growing up, my uncles were grown ass men. They had children of their own. They were married. They had houses. They were, much like my mom was, responsible adults who I could safely look up to. Sure they were imperfect in many ways, and sure I watched them go through their own trials and tribulations, but all the while, they were men, not by age but by acts.

When I think about being an uncle to this child, of course I want to be the coolest uncle in the world. But I also want to be a man he can look up to, and not because I graduated from college or I moved away from home and made my own way in this world. My uncles didn’t go to college, and with the exception of one who enlisted in the navy, they all kind of stayed close to the nest. And I still looked up to every one of them.

So, I turn this over to you my readers. What makes a great uncle? I’m already cool, so being a cool uncle is going to be easy. What I want to do is be a great, uncle. How do I do that? For the men who are uncles themselves, teach me how to fish. For the women or the men who are not uncles, please share whatever you remember about why your uncles are so great. I know this isn’t like being a parent, but until I have a kid of my own, my sister’s baby is it, so what do I need to know? All advice will be read and appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Uncle Jozen

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  • shelbie

    Your posts are always very sincere, be that way with your new niece or nephew. As he/she gets older share your advice about men, and relationships. Never forget birthdays, and always give the best gifts. Congratulations Unlce Jozen!

  • udee

    Uncle Jozen (How’d it feel typing that?)

    I don’t think I’m necessarily in any position to give my thoughts, seeing as so far in life I have only been oldest sister and daughter, but I do feel inclined to comment.

    I think that like every other position in life, you learn by going thru the motions; living the part by trial and error. If you have managed the few roles God has blessed you with well: older brother, son and grandson, then I think you are ready (more than you’ll ever know or admit) to be an uncle. And I don’t really think there’s a set guideline to being a great relative per say. But if I were to give one and only one piece of advice, it would be to be available, as much as you possibly can muster. At the end of the day, your coming nephew will want to know that you were there and you’ll always be there, even if to only to tie shoelaces, take him for his first barber appt or his high school graduation.

    And no matter what, as long as you love the young one, he’ll always see you as a grown ass man 🙂

    Yayy congratulations!

  • lo_whitt

    Congrats on becoming a uncle. I am a extremely proud auntie of 2 adorable princesses and they are truly a joy. I’m only 23 so similar to you my nieces are as close as I’m going to get to having children for a while. From my exprerience, being a aunt/uncle is relatively simple. Being present and involved in the child’slife is half the battle. That means go to all the recitals, games, birthdays, visit and call just to say hi, plan kid-friendly outings and soend quality time. You will become a natural role model without even trying so continue to do what you do and remember they’re watching so lead my example, you will naturally inspire.

  • udee

    And I realise I immediately assumed the unborn was a boy. Oops!

  • *inquiring mind*

    Well Jo,

    I became an aunt at 17 so frankly I know EXACTLY how you feel… Eleven years later I can’t really figure out what I was so worried about. Here’s what I know…

    Being an uncle/aunt like being a mother/father sister/brother etc (like udee said) is a role you grow into. It’s more so about being honest with yourself and that individual- because children are just that, little individals, and we’re basically here just to help them get to know who that individual is… that’s it. Be honest with them, patience I’ve heard comes naturally- for me I have to remind myself from time to time “she’s a kid, she’s not gonna always know what to do so teach her the right way” (she being my neice) like crossing her legs and sitting up straight and walking with presence… anyway, enjoy it- it’s fun. And don’t over think it just be present in the moment… b/c they grow fast.

  • Trisha

    YAy congrats!… I was reading your post and then automatically thought: first you were in mourning and now you are celebrating a new life soon to come into the world; where there is death comes life… To answer your question as for what makes a good uncle: All that I can remember was that at the age of 4/5 whenever I saw an uncle he was putting a dollar in my hand or lifting me up to give me hugs. As I grew older my favorite uncle’s were those who genuinely showed that they cared about what was going on in my life, one that communicated to me about local/world issues and asked my opinion about things. My uncles gave me advice about every and anything,*I have 9 uncles and they are all great in my eyes. They are funny, they give me advice about men,and hold me to reaching my goals. They continually give encouragement (the best way that men know how) and show me that they got my back. Also when I was in school struggling with tuition they helped me out :-)Now that I am older and doing my own independant thing I no longer recieve money but their time is enough. (.i.e help me buy a car, give me a ride somewhere, need some feedback about a guy’ action….

  • *inquiring mind*

    oops… and yeah- congrats!

  • Pamela

    Continue to work hard, be a good citizen and treat women with respect. All things I’m sure you do already. Kids not only listen to what you say, they watch everything you do. Being hardworking and respectful human beings is probably one of the best things my brothers have shown my kids. And spoiling a niece or nephew is always good too. I was always the aunt that bought that loud noisy toy that my nephews (now 33 and 28) and niece’s (now 14 & 13) parents’ wouldn’t. Just love him/her, that’s the BEST thing that you can do for them, and his/her parents.

  • Alisha

    Congrats Uncle Jozen! There’s no age requirement on becomng an aunt or uncle. I know of some nephews who are older than their uncles. LOL

    It’s not the exact same since I’m a woman, but I have two uncles on my Mama’s side. One in particular, her youngest brother Anthony, is the BEST uncle ever!! He’s 44. He would keep me when I stayed at my grandmother’s house and let me stay up late to watch Video Soul with him when my grandmother thought I was asleep He picked me up from school every now and then. When he had his first child, I was 18–old enough to be the mother. Taking care of her and her younger brother became my repayment to him for being…just him.

    He never did anything spectacular, but just BE THERE. Now, I go to his house for drinks and I can keep him awake while he drives cross-country on UPS trucks, telling him about my love problems. His favorite answer is: Honestly, that n*gga ain’t shit. And I love him for that.

    My half-sister, who I didn’t even meet until I was in my 20s has a son. Me and Sis are still in the process of getting to know each other, but my nephew loves me as if we were always one big, happy family. It’s amazing to me. The greatest thing in the world to me is seeing him light up, shower me with hugs and call me “Tee-Tee.” Sigh

    You’ll be great, dude. There are too many ways to show love. You should write him a letter before he’s born. That’d be cute.

  • Happyleoness

    Being an Uncle is being you. Remember, your niece or nephew will look to you as a role model. But they will also look to you for comfort and shelter, as your sister and her boyfriend will be the disciplinarians. It will be a beautiful and fulfilling experience. Congratulations.

  • Christina

    Awww Congratulations!

    I think the advice would sway depending on whether it’s a boy or a girl. My aunts always give the ‘girl advice’ that my mom would NEVER approve of and my uncles (thankfully) have always been ‘the cool ones’. For example, we went to visit my aunt & uncle when I was 13 and Jay-Z was going to be in concert the weekend we were there. I begged my mom to go and she refused so I tried to pull one over on my uncle. He said not without my mom’s permission and I was really mad because he usually always said yes.

    So, the day of the concert I was being all dramatic with a bad attitude and around the time of the concert my uncle asked my mom if he could take me to the movies since I was making everyone mad with my attitude. Reluctantly, I got in the car, and he told me to ‘fix my face’ (his favorite expression) and that my attitude wasn’t cute. We passed the movie theater and then I got confused and wanted to know where we were going. 25 minutes later, we got to the concert. He told me if I told my mom, this was the LAST time he would EVER ‘be cool’. I cried (I know, such a girl) and told him that THIS is why he’s cooler than everyone I knew (because of course, at 13 you know so many people).

    The concert was INSANE (and we had great seats) and BEYONCE, yes, THE Beyonce, came out for 2 songs when Jay Z performed. The concert ended and we went back to their house and we didn’t tell my mom until I was almost TWENTY! (Yea, she was pissed but nothing she could do lol)

    I don’t know why I just wrote you a fucking essay but hopefully, you can be as cool as my uncle whether you have a niece or a nephew 🙂

  • kristhemiss

    I feel like I am super Auntie. Auntie of 11, 8, 3 and a possible. Don’t ask about the possible. But don’t forget bdays! and always call even if they can’t talk lol. Just go with the flow! Just recently me and my niece have become pen pals so she can pratice her writing skills and reading skills. Things like that they will remember. The great thing about being an aunt/uncle you can do things for them that their parents won’t do. Have fun!

  • Sam Sharpe

    Be yourself. There is no secret. There is no formula. A little over a year ago I became an uncle for the first time. I don’t know the first thing about diapers. I don’t know the first thing about baby formula. My brother and his wife live about an hour away from me.

    But here’s what I know:

    I love my niece. I pay attention to her when she’s around. I sing her songs. I play with her. I am setting aside money for her. I am in her life and always will be in her life. In short, I’m just being me.

    Jozen, I don’t know you but I have read your blog. You seem thoughtful. And by virtue of the fact that you’ve asked yourself the question “How can I be a good uncle?” you’re already on the right track.

  • Nona Faye

    Do things with him/her the parents won’t do for the sake of being a good parent. You’ll automatically love them, be a good role model, and be there for birthdays. Your job is to spoil them without having to deal with consequences.

  • P A

    Awww! I can hear it now: “Uncle Jo-Jo” 🙂 Congratulations! Rather than try to figure out why I think I’m a great aunt, I just asked my niece. She said “Because you love me and give me Princess movies.” Of course being an aunt is different than being an uncle, but basically you give the kids what they need. Children need love and support. Showing that comes in many forms; its unique for everyone. You’ll do great.

  • b

    1. be there when they need to talk
    2. ice cream makes everything better
    3. look under their bed for monsters
    4. read to them
    5. give them a cool nickname and have a secret handshake
    6. always be there for them

  • sugarae215

    CONGRATS!!! Well, I became an auntie 2 1/2 years ago (I’ll be 30 soon). Trust me, there’s nothing to worry about. As you spend time with your new niece or nephew, you’ll settle into the role that you need to play. When they’re young, you’re pretty much a playmate, teacher, hug-maven, and confidant. Make sure you’re active in his or her life and ALWAYS encourage the little one (my niece is unstoppable, she knows…even at 2…that the sky is the limit). There will always be an opportunity to teach them a lesson, so make the most of it (whether it be some simple math, abc’s, new words, or just good manners). You’ll have a BALL…so just relax and soak it all in (they grow up way too fast). Plus it’ll give you some practice for the next blog…”Until She Gets Pregnant” lol

  • sugarae215

    Yes, I definitely cosign! My niece and I have a special handshake (she’s 2)…actually it’s a fist-bump. We both have curly hair, so I call her my “curl twin”. We say “curl twin power” then do the fist bump…I taught her when she was 1 and she soaked it right on up (smart little cookie that she is). It’s the CUTEST thing ever 🙂

  • Renee


    Congratulations and I’m bursting at the opportunity to share my “Favorite Uncle” experience with you. My “Uncle Jimmy” was an entrepreneur and lived comfortably, right next door to us. He married once, divorced and had no children of his own but SPOILED me to no end. He and his best friend took me shopping weekly, traveled the world and spent copious amounts of money doing whatever he decided to do at the moment. My parents often left me in my uncle’s care and he was in fact, the ONLY relative they trusted to care flawlessly for their only child and “Chocolate Doll”.

    One beautiful Miami afternoon the year I turned 21, napping beneath an open window, I overheard 2 things:

    1) I was “Adopted” at 2 days old
    2) My “Uncle Jimmy” is and always has been “Gay”

    I’ll end this by saying…BOTH of those facts, though jarring at the time, make me smile from ear to ear as I type them now and realize how perfect “LOVE” is….no matter how its packaged!

  • Cicely

    Luckily, by the time your neice/nephew is old enough to notice (5-7 yrs), you’ll likely be that responsible “grown ass man” who is married, with a house, and children of your own!

  • me-me

    if it’s a girl.. give her all the attention she can possibly get from a loving uncle… don’t let a man in the streets be the first man that tells her she’s beautiful.

  • Leigh

    Congratuations to you. The relationship that I have with my three uncles is priceless. My dad passed away several years ago and they are ALWAYS there to support me, share laughs and my love of sports. I would say that as your niece/nephew gets older that you share your life experiences, interests and lend an ear when necessary.

  • Tea

    I have three uncles. One married and moved far the hell away. Another is in jail. The third is an alcoholic. Despite their uh, personality flaws, none of them are BAD uncles. The common factor is that they all gave me money and presents as a shorty. Oh yes, uncles no matter their issues, always find money and presents for their nieces. Oh and they showered me with compliments. What girls doesn’t want to be called pretty and beautiful while getting money and presents… wait.

  • afro

    my mother had 2 younger brothers who are now deceased. one died the day after i was born, the other 9 years ago. and i am grateful for the 22 years i had him in my life. my uncle was handsome, athletic, charismatic, & loved by everyone he met! i remember visiting my grandmother in alabama for the summer & sitting up at night (no matter how late it was) waiting on him to come in from atlanta to visit for a few days. i remember him waking me up @ 6 a.m. in my pj’s and taking me to oak park to play for a fews hours and my grandma fussing to put my clothes on & him saying, “chill out mama-she’s with her uncle…” i remember him taking me swimming. i remember him having me answer his phone so women could think he had company. i remember watching him hear he had 6 months to live & fighting and turning into a better man than i already thought he was. i say all this to say, the fact that you are even thinking about the impact you will have on this child says a lot. i named my son after my uncle. i miss him a lot…congrats to you, your sister, & her boyfriend!!!

  • ksoul13

    Wonderfully written. It made me think, what the characteristics of a good uncle are. Hmm… I have no answer. Why? Because all the men in my family from immediate to extended have had their touches with the law, drugs and are just not cool people. Wow! My brothers and my uncles. My Dad is a passive person and I think that is because he grew up with strong females. My family has a lot of women and their men or should I say my cousins who are males are just…I do not even know how to describe them. I have nine aunts and only four uncles through marriage who fall into the above categories. Therefore, please someone let ME know what a good uncle is like. I am in my thirties and I have made no one an aunt or uncle and neither have my siblings. What will our next generation look like? I wonder if there will be a generation for my linage because we are older and none of us has children. I know my parents want that and my brothers are late because one just got out of prison and the other one gets out in two years. What kind of uncle can they be with no prior knowledge except criminal and drugs?

  • Barbara

    My memories of my uncles are great. They were hard working, not overly demonstrative with their feelings except when they were around us kids. No matter the conversation between them and my dad; if one of us presented ourselves in excitement we were greated with a hug and ponytail pull. They always had change in their pockets for the candy store and were guaranteed to be the source of a smile. Most importantly I remember feeling safe whenever they were around and important. They always seemed to know something about our interest and asked a question or two. Yes, they were often the source of a REAL spanking for the boys and raised voice for us girls. But I would count just holding any one of my uncle’s hand as some of the best moments in my life. Congrats, on the honor bestowed upon you. It will be a source of laughter and love in it’s purest form. You will do just fine… B

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  • Pascalle

    Hey Jozen. My Uncle Glenn has gone above and beyond the call of Unclehood for the past 14 years. My father, his brother and best friend, passed away when I was 13. We were both devastated. He stayed in my life which was not always easy as he had his own new wife and family. He has always been there to reminisce with me about my father in a way only we can, because only we knew him best. He has always gently nudged me to go back and finish school, because my dad would have wanted me to, and he has always been there to donate to the united negro niece fund, because a weekend is a terrible thing to waste. He has always been clutch, my plan B after my mother. I just came back from vacay in Hawaii and who offered to take me to JFK at 6:30 am, on a Thurs morning? My Uncle Glenn, not because he had to, but because he’s always been there, if I ever really needed him.