I have been an aunt for 28 years now. It is the title I cherish most and have taken the most time and effort to fine tune. As with most endeavors in life, there has been a definite learning curve as I have navigated the waters. In some respects being an aunt has not turned out as I expected. In some cases, it’s even better. Here are a few things I have learned in my 28 years of being an aunt.
- Time matters. As with anything in life, the time spent on a pursuit or goal will determine the success rate with the pursuit or goal. Nothing worthwhile blossoms overnight or on command. At least, no relationship does. It takes effort. It takes practice. It takes time. If you want to have a relationship with your niece or nephew when they are adults and are able to include you in their fun stuff then do fun stuff with them when they are younger. Even when they are younger it is the quality of time spent versus the quantity. Showing up for them when they are young might motivate them to show up for you when they are older.
- Show an interest in their interest. Common sense here, isn’t it? We connect with those who share the same likes as us. They may be goofballs interested in things you couldn’t care less about but let them discuss the topic with you. Especially when they are going through those teenage years and may be at odds with mama or papa bear. It helps when they have a trusted adult who lets them be excited without having to remind them of logistics like parents have to do. Be a listener and let them tell you all about it.
- Mind the cub. This is the most important one of all. Cubs have mamas and papas. You’re not the rule making mama or papa bear. You are the fun-loving, slightly rebellious in a safe kind of way, supportive aunt bear. That means have fun with the cub but be mindful that the mama or papa bear will tear the aunt bear to shreds if that cub receives any harm or threat of harm under the aunt bear’s care. Be careful teasing the cub if the mama or papa are nearby. You mind the cub. Trust me on this. That mama and/or papa bear do not take kindly to anyone who hurts, mocks, or threatens their cubs in any shape or form.
These are a few of the things I thought of while remembering my experiences with the cubs. Some I did better than others. Some lessons I learned a little late. As all my nieces and nephew are now grown it has been fun to be included and invited in their doings as adults. After all that practice with the first set I now get to apply what I have learned with the next generation that is growing. Now I get to practice being a great-aunt. It just gets more and more fun!