Ways to (continue to) be a (good) influence in lives of nephews?

My two nephews, one of whom is starting middle school soon, live a very long travel distance from me. I like to think I’ve been a good influence to them; I try to visit whenever I can (and thus not being able to, or not having as much time as “usual,” does affect my mood) and I do FaceTime with them occasionally (maybe not as much as I should, but they tend to be distracted by TV and games, and I’m not sure I can think of enough to keep up a conversation more often anyway). But given their ages, I realize that their interest in actually interacting with me will soon come to an end.

As such, I’m wondering if all of you out there have any thoughts on how to hopefully continue to be a positive influence in their lives. It would also help me feel like I’m “doing something,” so I don’t feel as bad about “missing out” on a few days in their presence here and there.

Thanks in advance!

I have two nephews, one 37 and one 11 years old.

To be honest I thought the older one was a lost cause by the time he was 12, but I did take him on a nice hike during a visit here from his home in South Texas, and I wrote quite a few letters to him describing my early life situations and experiences, and trying to offer some meaningful counsel. Also sent birthday and Christmas gifts to him. I never received acknowledgment of any of these small gestures. Happily, he’s turned out to be a much more decent and successful man than the early expectations were, but I certainly don’t claim any credit for any of that.

The younger one, also living in South Texas, is very bright, and very conniving. My sister (his grandmother) and he visited here last week, and I had very little interaction with him over the course of the two days. A lot of the lack of engagement came from my sister operating her Macbook, iPad, and iPhone constantly and as nearly simultaneously as possible (driving our Mother to distraction and such); her engagement with him is largely warnings, commands, buying him stuff, and taking him on “cool” day trips, I guess. By the way, his mother is pretty much a nitwit, and his male parental unit is uninvolved. I wonder if the same kind of letter writing I undertook with his uncle would do any good at all.

My advice is that you do anything you can to offer positive modeling, instruction, nurture, and such. It’s not only important to feel like you’re “doing something” now; your engagement now will certainly influence your memories in future, and just might influence your nephews’ as well. Blessings to you all.

My best friend’s son is 11 years old. We used to live in the same city but they moved across the country. I really love this child and it’s important to me to continue to be part of his life. Just talking on the phone didn’t work all that great but now we play online games together and he loves that. We play Clash Royale and Sea of Thieves but there must be many possibilities. I would not have thought I would enjoy playing, but I do.

Put a little money away for them every month. When they become adults or need college money send it to them. I know it seems cold, but it will be appreciated at the time. If you can afford it, that is. Keep talking to them, as much as possible.

If I had nephews closing in on their teen years, I would let them know that they can always talk to me if they want to, and that they can tell me anything. I wouldn’t actually promise not to tell their parents but I would reserve that for life-threatening situations. Tell them now, and remind them every so often as you have the chance and the time feels right, and then don’t be disappointed if they don’t take you up on it right away. Especially if you feel comfortable talking about sex and other difficult topics, this could be a real godsend for one or both of them.

I wish to hell I had had an uncle like that when I was a teenager. I couldn’t talk to my parents about much of anything (I didn’t come out to them openly until I was in my 40s) and I didn’t have anyone else to talk to either. There’s nothing like a safe space to ask about or talk about one’s deepest fears and concerns.

I have a godson that is 14. He’s at the age where he’s a snot most of the time. But I make sure that every time I see him, I give him a hug or two, tell him I love him, and tell him (when his parents aren’t around) that he can call me any time he needs help and doesn’t feel he can go to his parents. Hopefully he will never need to take me up on that, but I think it helps knowing that there is someone out there for him, even if he is uncomfortable talking to his parents.

You’re doing it wrong! :smiley: Your job as uncle is to spoil them shamelessly!

Okay, seriously, I must echo the good advice everyone else has given. Go visit them as often as you can. Don’t forget the utility of you babysitting them so the parents can have a night out.

I am interested in this thread. My older sister (single mum) has a 15 y/o boy who is going off the rails with truancy, drugs and assorted crime. I haven’t been a presence of much significance in his life (due to living overseas) except a birthday and christmas present valve. I wonder if there is anything I can do that he won’t consider lame?

Could you host him for a week or two? Do lots of uncle + nephew cool stuff while being a generally positive example? And don’t forget the effect on your sister: not having him around will be a holiday for her too.

Yeah. I should do that. I’ll see what sis thinks. Thanks.

My sister has three sons. When they were kids I’d take them fishing and let them try the beer I was drinking. I took the oldest to get his ear pierced when he was 9, freaking his mom out. I let the youngest drive my car in an empty parking lot (his two brothers were driving and he wanted a taste). When one of them was 19 and busted with a roach, I arranged his legal representation without his mom being the wiser. I told them that my brother (their other uncle) is insecure, so they always let slip that I’m their favorite uncle.

I’m “that” uncle.

ETA: two of my nephews are married. I nearly cried when I was asked to perform their nuptials.

ETA part deux: they are each married to their wives, not to each other.