It was a typical nephew and Aunt weekend. The day was young so I took my nephew to the Science center. He is a big fan of dinosaurs. At only 3 years of age, he can tell you the exact names of every type of dinosaur there is.
“Look, it’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex.”
“ooouu, there goes a Triceratops.”
It blows my mind to see this young man not only absorb but regurgitate so much knowledge. At the end of the day, he explained that his mom doesn’t like the science center so they rarely come, but that he loved it here. In that moment I realized the importance an Aunt had in a child’s life.
I became a first-time Aunt at the age of 21. I didn’t have all the answers then and I don’t have all the answer now, but as I approach being an Aunt for the third time I wanted to give some advice on some ways to be a great Aunt to your nieces and nephews.
Be there in the flesh
It is important that you are around for your niece or nephew. Don’t just show up for the major events. Sure, there are circumstances that prevent you from being physically present such as living in another state. However, if you can, be there on random weekends for them. Pop in some nights just to visit and read them a book. Children understand who is there. They don’t understand who is too “busy”.
Phone calls, facetime, and cards
I can’t stress this enough. You may live in another state, but distance shouldn’t stop the amount of communication you keep with your nieces or nephews. And if you live in the same state then this really should be smooth sailing. Be sure to call to check in on them often whether it’s through phone or facetime. Send them cards for birthdays and holidays. Tell them things like “I love you” or “if you ever need to talk, I’m here” more than they can try to remember because trust me, they do remember. Knowing that they have another person looking out for them means the world.
Be a role model
Children watch what we do more than they listen to what we say. That’s why it’s important that we be a role model. Give them something great to look up to whether that’s showing them how powerful knowledge is, showing them how to be polite to others, showing them how the young respect their elders, or showing a young boy how a man opens the door for a lady etc. In a nutshell, show them things that can help to enhance their future.
Because children don’t always feel comfortable going directly to their parents. As Aunts, we can set up a platform for our nieces or nephews to feel comfortable talking with us. It’s better that they talk to someone than no one at all. Make sure you listen fully before responding. Make sure they understand that they can tell you as much or as little as they want too. Be sure that they know that you care. If a serious dilemma arises and it’s possible, be that gentle voice of reason.
Take them places their parents don’t
As I’ve stated above, my sister just doesn’t have a love for science, but my nephew does. My other nephew may have a love for music, while my soon to come nephew or niece may aspire to be a teacher. It is important that I take them to places that their parents won’t…that I help to hone in and cultivate their gifts if I am able. It takes a village to raise a child so I want to do my part as much as possible. I’ll sit there at the science museum, at the studio, and at the Office depot buying my young teacher a chalkboard if need be. I’ll do whatever it takes if it means being a great Aunt.
Gifts, gifts, and more gifts! Shower them with gifts on birthdays, on holidays, and on random days. It’s your God-given Aunt duty.
Keep these tips in mind and remember, don’t ever underestimate the impact you have by being an aunt!