Nieces and Nephews: The Little Ones That Hold The Keys To Our Hearts
“She’s a different kind of BFF. One who is a little younger, and finds you so cool just because you care and have grown-up clothes in your closet. As she gets older, you might become her shoulder to cry on, but right now, you have so many smiles and snacks you need to share.” – Marisa Casciano
This little quote aptly captures what it means to have a niece or a nephew. Once you become an aunt or an uncle, your priorities change instantly. It’s like you’re a whole new person. You might wonder why you feel this way when they are not even your kids but the truth is that they essentially are your kids and you have to step up.
It takes a village to raise a child
No truer words have ever been spoken. Granted, it’s not going to be an actual village of 3,000 people, but you are a part of the unit in question. When your nephew or niece is born, it’s a different kind of feeling than when you had your child — assuming you are a parent.
Initially, you might have thought that you would never love another human being the way you love your child. But then, you are shocked beyond words when your niece or nephew is born. You could have sworn that there was no more space in your heart for anyone else; however, you can almost feel it expanding with love for the little one.
“When your mom placed you in my arms after your birth, little did I know that she was placing you directly in my heart.” – Unknown
Enough of the sweet nothings, what does being an aunt or uncle entail?
No one has to be an aunt or an uncle if they don’t want. Melanie Notkin, founder of SavvyAuntie.com said, “There is no obligation of the aunt or uncle, unlike parenting. Once you parent a child, you have a legal obligation.” This makes it all the more special when someone chooses to not only be in the kid’s life but also to be a positive influence in their lives.
Four things you can do as an aunt or uncle
1.Be an adult friend
Most aunts and uncles can be the perfect adult friend for the kids. This is because they are bound to be the “cool aunt or uncle” who will be more open about discussing certain topics with them, unlike their parents. Also, they are their niece and nephew’s only source of funny stories about their parents. 
2. Be an expert provider to the kid
This might be the reason most kids love them so much. Aunts and uncles don’t mind spending a fortune on a toy just to see a smile on their niece and nephew’s face.
3. Serve as a role model
Being a good aunt or uncle could make your niece or nephew look up to you as a role model. This is a much better option than letting them be influenced by random people on social media. You just have to live a good life because they learn by watching you. 
4. Act as second parents
Parents can only trust babysitters to an extent. There is probably no one they trust more with their kids than you.
Psychologist, Aphrodite Clamar, said, “Parents trust their own siblings to let the children do things the parents might not countenance, but not anything dangerous. So they can entrust the children to the aunt’s or uncle’s care.” 
What it means to have a niece or nephew
You’ve seen what being an aunt or an uncle entails; now let’s discuss what you stand to gain from having this relationship with these children.
1.Nieces and nephews are such bundles of joy
No one wants to admit this, but aunts and uncles get the cute part of the kids while the parents have to deal with the other parts. This is because the parents have the kids for almost all day and do have to be a bit strict with them. While the aunts and uncles spend a shorter amount of time with them. And in those hours, the kids tend to be on their best behavior, because they get pampered by them.
2. They give you a chance to let your inner child out
While your siblings are busy doing “parents stuff”, you’re expected to get on the floor and play with the kids. The best part of that is that no one is going to judge you for playing instead of working. They will see it as your job and your siblings will even be relieved that you are keeping the little one occupied.
3. They are like prepackaged little besties for your kids
There is no better friend for your kid that their cousin. They don’t have to be the same age or in the same grade, but their relationship was still blossom. And when they are old enough for sleepovers, you won’t have to worry about them going over to a stranger’s house.
4.They teach you about having kids
There’s no better practice for when you have your kids than by having nieces and nephews. Also, they will tell you things they can’t or won’t tell their parents, and that kind of gives you a mental picture of what to expect from your kids eventually. 
5. If you don’t have kids yet, you can take them as yours
They fill up that space in your life. If you’re unable to have kids of your own, then these tiny humans you’ve known since birth are just what you need to complete you and make you happy. The love you have for them, after all, cannot be denied.
6. They strengthen the bond you have with your siblings
In case you felt like you were drifting apart from your siblings, a child is just what you need to bring you back together. You want to be in the child’s life, thus, you’ll always go over to their place and then see your siblings. Truly, nothing brings people closer together than a mutual love for a child. 
Family is everything
No one will ever be in your corner more than your family. They’ve got your back and will always go above and beyond for you. Eventually, you will realize that money isn’t everything. A few good friends and a loving family is all that truly matters.
At some point, you will see just how refreshing it is to have someone who genuinely wants to know how you’re doing and not just asking because that’s what people say right after hello.
As for being an aunt to a little girl, it’s a huge responsibility. You have a little human being looking up to you and coming to you for advice, especially with boys’ stuff.
“An aunt is a double blessing; she loves you like a parent and acts like a friend.” This rings true on all levels. You could also describe an aunt as her nieces’ happy place. This is one relationship that will stand the test of time and distance because both parties will always find a way to bridge the gap.
Always remember that “happiness is being an aunt” and “happiness is a little niece’s big hug.” Hugs between an aunt and a niece are therefore something special.
What a letter to a niece from a loving aunt looks like:
Dearest One, I just want to let you know how much I love you. I know I’m distant often, and I don’t always show you how much I love you, but please know I always feel this way. I don’t want time to go on with you questioning or not knowing how much I Really Love You.
It is going to be a roller coaster being an aunt or uncle, but strap in and get ready, you will enjoy the ride.
- “The important role of aunts and uncles in children’s lives.” Washington Post. Monica Leftwich. May 26, 2017.
- “The Unique Role of Aunts and Uncles.” AARP. Amy Goyer. April 12, 2011.
- “RELATIONSHIPS; THE ROLES OF UNCLES AND AUNTS.” NY Times. Margot Slade. April 9, 1984.
- “Raising Children: The Role of Aunts and Uncles.” Forbes. Renee Sylvestre-Williams. November 23, 2011.
- “The Importance of Aunties and Uncles.” Huffpost. Susan Stiffelman. December 11, 2012.