There is nothing more exciting than seeing your siblings grow into parents. From the moment they get their first child, you enter a new phase in your life and earn the title of aunt or uncle. This comes with a lot of responsibility. Uncles and aunts play an essential role in the lives of their nephews and nieces.
As an aunt or uncle, you are basically your nieces' and nephews' second much cooler parent. You are also supposed to play the role of friend and confidant at the same time. To find the balance between being a parent and a friend, there are certain rules you should follow. This article will cover some of them:
1. Be the cool aunt or uncle
As an uncle or an aunt, you are an adult friend to your nephew or niece. There are several issues that your nephew or niece may be too nervous to talk about with their parents. Some of these issues may be sensitive, such as bullying. Children often prefer not to talk about these issues with their parents because they feel their parents may be dismissive about the issue or they may react in an explosive manner.
As an uncle or an aunt, you have the opportunity to take the “cool” approach. There are topics children will avoid when talking to their parents that they can openly discuss with you. Uncles and aunts are the best people to talk to about these issues because you can listen without being judgmental and give advice from an unbiased point of view.
Since you can talk about the touchy subjects with your nephew or niece more freely, take a relaxed approach when giving solutions to their problems. This will make them more likely to share even more sensitive issues with you going forward. You could also share embarrassing stories about yourself or their parents, to make the exchanges more entertaining. Doing this will definitely solidify your relationship with your nephew or niece.
2. Respect the parents’ rules
It is very important to be consistent when raising kids. Consistency helps the child feel safe and at home. It is, therefore, important that you do not stray too far from the parents’ rules.
For instance, if your nephew or niece has a specific sleeping time, ensure that they go to bed at around the same time. The kids may try to persuade you otherwise with their cute faces but it is important to stand your ground.
3. Help out
Although they may not ask for it, parents sometimes need help raising their kids. Being a parent is tedious, and everyone needs a break sometimes.
The biggest help you can offer mom and dad is taking the kids off their hands for a while. This will give them time to focus on themselves more and maybe get some sleep. You will also get to spend some quality time with the kids!
Alternatively, you can offer to help around the house by cleaning, cooking, or babysitting. Siblings who are single parents will really appreciate this.
4. Avoid spoiling them
As an uncle or an aunt, you do not have to spend a lot of money every time you see your nephew or niece. Giving your nephew or niece expensive gifts might make you the cool aunt or uncle, but you should also consider the position you will be putting the parents in. Try to buy age-appropriate, reasonably-priced gifts instead.
Also, buying gifts that are too advanced may leave the parents with the responsibility of having to spend a lot of time helping your nephew or niece to assemble the toy or having to find space to store the toy until their child is old enough to play with it.
Getting them gifts or souvenirs from your trip or taking them out to eat is a wonderful thing to do for your nephew or niece but do not go overboard with it. Simple gifts like clothes and shoes ought to do the trick. At the end of the day, the best thing you can really give them is love, which is ultimately free.
5. Make time for the kids
You should always make time for your nephew or niece and make an effort to be involved in their lives even if you live far away. You may not be lucky enough to live close to other members of your family, but it would really mean a lot to your nephew or niece if you were more involved in their lives regardless of the distance.
You do not always have to visit. Video calling or texting regularly is more than enough. Show up for events such as their birthdays or little moments like dance recitals. These little things are the ones that mean the most to a child, solidifying your relationship.
6. Don’t play favorites
You should always try to show them love and affection in the same way without playing favorites. Love them all unconditionally and express your love without appearing to favor one child over the other.
9. Be a good role model
As an aunt or an uncle, your nephews and nieces will always look up to you, especially when they are younger. It is, therefore, your responsibility to set a good example for them. Children are very eager to learn and try out new things and they tend to learn these things from the people closest to them.
Before you do anything, you should ask yourself whether or not you would want your nephew or niece to find out about it. If the answer is no then you probably shouldn’t do it. It is important for kids to be surrounded by good and strong role models while growing up.
10. Be yourself
You should also avoid trying too hard to connect with your nephew or niece. As the kids grow, there will be a shift in your relationship. When this happens, just continue being yourself. Trying too hard may make your relationship even more awkward. Keep being the loving aunt or uncle that you are and your nephew or niece will eventually come around.
The role aunts and uncles play in the lives of their nephews and nieces is very important. They serve as confidants and a source of wisdom for the kids. It is a unique relationship where, as an uncle or aunt, you get to be authoritative, cool, and fun all at once!