In my book, I mention numerous books that have been important to my personal development. I’ve also provided (affiliate) links to many of those books on this page on my site.

Within the parenting genre, these are a few of my favorites:

1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12

Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)

Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager

To that list I now add two wonderful new books, Conversations with the Wise Uncle, by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., which I read, and the companion book, which Coates wrote with Kathleen Scott Conversations with the Wise Aunt.

I’ve been reading (and watching) blog posts by Coates and his business partner, Meredith Bell, on the Your Voice of Encouragement web site. It was there that I discovered Coates’ new books.

Coates’ inspiration for the books came from a friend, who at the age of 12 was taken aside by his uncle for a friendly, casual conversation on what he could expect during his teen years—including peer pressure and the consequences of risky behavior. Coates’ friend calls that conversation the most important one of his life, saying that it helped him to steer clear of all kinds of trouble.

Coates expanded on the idea by writing of 10 conversations that take place between Chris (in the “Uncle” book) and his Uncle Ray. The book is done in parable format, where you are following along the story of the young man and his uncle as several years go by. The conversations take place beginning when Chris is 12, and continue until just before Chris’ senior year in high school.

Coates has written a truly brilliant book. He has managed to fit into this short, easy read, dozens of critical life lessons such as: respecting women, thinking before you act, manners, being strong in the face of adversity, lifelong learning, the importance of giving, and the dangers of alcohol and drugs. He even manages to fit in subtle, unexpected hints such as the importance of sunscreen.

I contacted Coates to ask how he envisioned these books getting into the hands of teens. It seemed to me that the best bet would be as a gift from their own “wise” uncle or aunt (or as I tend to think about it, a “cool” uncle or aunt—the kind that the kid trusts and enjoys hanging out with and thinks is cool, as Chris clearly feels about his Uncle Ray in the “Wise Uncle” book.)

Coates said, “The Conversations books can be used three ways: adult gives the book to the child, adult reads the book and uses it for ideas for adult-child conversations, and adult and child read and discuss chapter by chapter. I agree that a “wise uncle/aunt” or other mentor, such as a youth program director or counselor, would be the ideal person to give the child the book. The parent is a close second, depending on the relationship, of course.”

Coates has also produced free adult discussion guides for the two books, available here.

Check out these books and enjoy the difference that you will make for the teens with whom you share them.

And check out the good work that Denny Coates does on his web site, How to Raise a Teenager.

Best regards,


p.s. Did you have a “wise uncle/aunt” or other mentor who helped you? What are some of the life lessons you learned and how did that impact you? Please join the conversation with your comments…