9 Tips on How To Be a Cool Aunt or Uncle While Also Being a Good Role Model
Whether you have kids of your own or not, being an aunt or uncle is completely different than being a parent. While it’s similar, ultimately, your nieces or nephews are your sibling’s children regardless of their age, and you should respect their parenting techniques.
With that said, being an aunt or uncle does present itself with both the opportunity to become another positive role model in their lives as well as a unique set of challenges that only come with being an aunt or uncle.
While there is no one-all-be-all guide on this topic and each family has their own dynamics, this post does provide some good tips that will enrich your nieces and nephews lives while also respecting the boundaries of your siblings regardless of the age of the kids.
Let’s get started.
Remember Important Events
Aside from the obvious birthday, be sure to reach out on other important dates of your nieces’ and nephews’ lives.
If they’re religious, keep tabs on the various rights of passage; congratulate them on academic achievements such as graduating or passing big tests; be present during life’s bigger events such as marriages; spend time with them if they’re moving away, etc.
In other words, if you went through a similar experience and you considered it a milestone at the time, no matter how trivial it was looking back, reach out!
Try To Not Be Too Serious
Everybody wants to be the cool aunt or uncle, and unlike their parents, you have the unique perspective of seeing their good side most of the time.
Take advantage of that mindset and encourage them to open up by being positive and happy around them whenever you see them.
Your sibling’s children, regardless of age, could always use more good role models. By simply being yourself and maintaining a positive attitude, you will attain the coveted mantle of the cool aunt or uncle.
Don't Let Disrespect Slide, Either
On the flip side, not correcting inappropriate behavior or letting disrespect slide could have a negative impact on your nieces and nephews.
This is a difficult challenge to overcome, but can be properly addressed by asking your siblings how they would like you to correct their children.
Never shout or get angry as the kids could overreact and fib to their parents about you, but at the same time, don’t be afraid to be stern with a smile.
Nobody likes disciplining their sibling’s children, but keep in mind that you have your own unique role in helping to raise this child. An uncomfortable situation when they’re kids could result in a more well-rounded adult when they grow up.
Keep a Line of Communication Open
From the moment they’re old enough to communicate with you, be sure to let them know that you are always there for them if they need anything. We’re all busy with our own lives and problems, but do your best to respond to their texts, calls, or emails as soon as you can.
This can be very important as the kids grow up. For example, if they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation as teenagers or young adults, they may feel more comfortable asking you for a ride or turning to you for advice instead of their parents.
Don't Hide Anything From Their Parents
With the above point in mind, it’s absolutely vital that you don’t hide anything from their parents, and it’s equally important that you do so without violating your niece’s or nephew’s trust.
Above all else, you want to stay in their lives, and their parents / your siblings will determine that. If your siblings find something out that you knew about their kids but didn’t tell them about it, it could lead to long-term familial rifts and trust issues.
A good way to establish trust with your nieces and nephews without breaking it is to tell them that you’ll never hide anything from their parents. Saying something like, “I’ll always be here for you if you need me, but if it’s something serious, I’ll have to tell your parents about it once the dust settles.”
Now of course you don’t have to share every little detail of their lives with your siblings, but major happenings or concerns need to be shared.
For example, if your nieces or nephews ask you for relationship advice between friends or lovers that’s casual, there’s no reason to tell their parents if it’s nothing serious.
However, if you pick them up from a night of partying where they were doing things that they weren’t supposed to be doing, that information needs to be relayed to their parents. Your siblings will trust you even more while your nieces and nephews will understand why you had to do so when they get older.
If it’s something very serious between your niece or nephew and their parents, use discretion and listen to what they have to say before doing anything.
Remember - you have a role in raising this child!
Focus on Experiences, Not Gifts
While all kids love gifts regardless of age, they won’t remember what you got them for Christmas two years ago - but they’ll never forget that time you took them to a museum, amusement park, concert, or show.
If you have your own kids this can be easily done by bringing your nieces and nephews along when you bring your own kids. If you don’t have your own kids, it’s a bit easier because you’ll have less little ones to wrangle and you can spend quality time together.
Lift Their Parents Up
Regardless of your relationship with their mother and father, never ever put their parents down. Their parents will eventually find out, and you want to encourage a strong family dynamic when they’re not around their parents.
As the old saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” However, if a positive memory comes up that you shared with their parents when you both were younger, tell it to your niece or nephew.
This will help the kids to view their parents in a more fun light and also encourage them to bond with their own siblings more in hopes of creating their own fun and unique memories.
While this may be the most difficult tip on this list, it’s also the most important, especially when your nieces or nephews come from the same parents.
Now this isn’t to say that you always have to take all of your nieces and nephews with you whenever you take one of them out, but keep tabs of how much time you spend with each one and try to even it out.
An easy way to do this is to rotate experiences with them. For example, if you have one niece and one nephew from the same sibling, alternate taking each one out individually. One month take your niece somewhere, and the next take your nephew.
If you can take them out at the same time, it will also give you major brownie points with your sibling and their spouse.
Bonus: Give Surprise Gifts
I know I mentioned that experiences are better than gifts, but that’s not to say that gifts aren’t appreciated.
Check out our newest gifts for nieces and nephews below for a meaningful and heartfelt present that they’ll wear and cherish for many years to come.