A man, who is aged 25, shared the post on Reddit explaining that he decided to adopt his 11-year-old niece after the death of her immediate family in a car crash.
Calling himself ‘Iamlostandneedhelp’, he makes it clear he has already dealt with his niece’s monetary needs, from securing a bigger apartment, to seeking a counselor for her. However he confessed that he doesn’t feel equipped to help her through all of the idiosyncrasies of being a young woman.
A lot of this has to do with the fact that he considers himself to be an “introvert”: as such, the Redditor feels as if he cannot understand the world his niece inhabits, not to mention the hormones, social pressures and social media. Her needs, he says, remain a mystery to him.
Thankfully, the people of the internet were there to help.
And the response was probably more than he bargained for, as the thread was flooded with endearing tales of replacement mother figures, as well as personal accounts of first periods, bras, sexual encounters and contraception.
Redditors recommended books that he could read to understand his niece’s experience of puberty, while others explained how to have an open conversation with her so she knows that he’s comfortable getting her whatever she needs.
Some suggested ways he could make her feel more confident and secure, like getting her a subscription to her favourite teen magazine and making sure that he never, ever cuts her hair himself.
Above all else, they suggested that he reach out to the mothers of his niece’s schoolmates.
“We have an amazing dad who worked hard to bring us up right, but I also have to give credit to our friend's mother for stepping up in that way,” wrote Patellabone. “Our friend's mother (who was also a close family friend) took us under her wing and gave us all of the uncomfortable talks.”
Another said: “[You have] gotta step up here and be BEST friends with multiple mothers in your daughter’s school.
“Essentially what this advice boils down to is to look for the helpers. They’re everywhere.”
‘Iamlostandneedhelp’ took everything on board, and made sure to respond to everyone who kindly offered advice.
“I really appreciate your detailed answer,” he said. “Thank you very much for it! I'll check out the book, will not cut her hair and get a subscription to a nice magazine.
“I will surely have a lot of other questions at some point and will gladly reach out to you then, thank you very much for the offer!”
The discussion makes it clear how much of a mystery pre-teens can seem. But it’s clear that he was already equipped with everything he needed to understand her: a desire to empathise with and support her.