I had the chance to interact with a niece recently, a high school freshman I hadn’t seen in a while. These encounters are rare, since both of us have busy lives and she lives 50 miles away. So I couldn’t help myself. I had to take the opportunity to gift her with some coaching.

“How are you liking your freshman year so far?”

She brightened up. “I’m taking all advanced courses.”

“That’s impressive! Are you having fun?”


“Your time in high school is special. Gotta learn all you can, but you gotta have fun, too. What’s the most fun for you right now?”

“I’m off the swim team, but I really like dance class.”

“That sounds like a lot of fun.”


“Having fun is a big deal. You create wonderful memories. There’s something else that’s huge during your high school years.”


“You need to continue working on becoming the adult you want to be after you leave home.”


“When you’re on your own, you’ll need life skills. You know, how to do all kinds of everyday things to have the life you want. And you’ll need to be a good, strong person, someone other people can like, trust and depend on. And collect all the wisdom you can now so you know as much as possible about yourself, other people, and how the world works.”

“That’s a lot.”

“Yes, it is. And not every young adult leaves home well prepared for life. But you have several more years to work on yourself. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the time will fly by. One day not too long from now you’ll be graduating from high school. So one, be sure to have fun, and two, take advantage of this time to prepare yourself to be the best, strongest adult you can be.”


I’m Uncle Denny. She expects me to say stuff like this. It’s wisdom. Who knows? Maybe she’ll remember some of it and it will be helpful.

In my experience, the more important the topic is, the harder it is to talk about it. Relationships. The future. Purpose and meaning. Life and death. Sex.

Kids really need wisdom about the important things. In those rare, unhurried moments when it’s just the two of you, you can pass on the truths you know. One truth at a time. And if you’re lucky, there could be someone like me, the uncle or the aunt who tells them things they need to know.

By the way, I wrote two story-filled books that model some of these talks. For middle school kids:

Read it, give it to your child, and have some talks to discuss the stories.