We all have a favorite uncle or aunt that we can identify with, have a laugh with, or go to for sound advice. As a new aunt or uncle, you can play a pivotal role in a child’s life. Learn how to have a positive and lifelong impact on your siblings’ children, by taking part in every stage of their development.
This might take effort on your part, or you might find that the role of uncle or aunt simply falls in your lap! You might be asked to be the child’s godparent, in which case your role has been predetermined as an integral one. You might live close to your siblings and be called to babysit their kids from a young age, making you one of the most important adult role models in the child’s life, second to their parents.
If you have children of your own, the role of being an aunt or uncle may feel like a natural extension of your role as a parent. However, if this is your first experience being a role model to a little one, you might feel overwhelmed. It might be you who needs the advice and support!
Start by showing your siblings that you are interested in becoming the best aunt or uncle you can be to their children. A gift for the new baby is a great way to begin your wonderful journey. Make it special, and make it meaningful. The magnitude of your gift may be lost on your baby niece or nephew, but the parents will understand that you intend to be a positive force in their child’s life.
As an aunt or uncle, you are in the special position of being able to buy a multitude of gift types for the newborn. You can buy personal presents that mere acquaintances can’t give, but you can also be outrageously gratuitous in your gift giving, buying silly and unnecessary things that even the baby’s parents wouldn’t buy.
There are aunt and uncle “types” that we all know and love, and your gift will reflect your personality as an aunt or uncle. The following are our favorite aunt and uncle personalities, and some suggestions of gifts you might buy for your new nephew or niece.
The “Crazy Aunt” or the “Prankster Uncle”
These are the fun relatives that kids look forward to going to visit. The crazy aunt lets her teenaged nieces and nephews play up a little more than mom and dad lets them, and prankster uncle has a tendency to play a little rough and tumble with the kids, often prompting stern words from mom or dad (directed at the aunt or uncle, not the child!)
The thing to remember as the “crazy aunt” or the “prankster uncle,” is that after all’s said and done, you need to respect the wishes of the child’s parents. It’s fun to be a big kid with your nieces and nephews, but know your boundaries. Parents have rules for a reason, and they are often tailored to the specific needs and personalities of the children. If the parents of the child don’t let them drink soda or eat candy, don’t be a sugar pusher behind their backs. If they are supposed to be in bed at 8pm, don’t stay up watching MTV with them until 9pm. You get the picture.
Great gifts for the “crazy aunt” or the “prankster uncle,” are things that encourage the child’s free spirit and creativity. RedEnvelope’s kids decor gifts are sure to be a hit!
Oftentimes, kids need a voice of reason of an adult. Unfortunately, that voice of reason is not their parents’. Teenaged nieces or nephews might turn to you for advice and guidance on issues that their parents “just don’t understand.” The most important role the “confidante aunt,” or “confidant uncle” can play is that of an advocate for the parents. Never encourage the child to go against their parents’ wishes. Be supportive, yes. Tell them that you understand – after all, you were their age once too. But try to explain that their parents have their best interests at heart even if it doesn’t seem that way now.
The aunt or uncle who can teach their niece or nephew about life is often the most prized type of relative. Sometimes it takes an adult that is slightly removed from the immediate family to explain the ways of the world in a way that doesn’t seem “preachy” or condescending.
If your niece has asked for your advice on how to deal with bullying at school, buy her a book written for young people about how to achieve confidence and a sense of self worth. If your nephew is struggling with math or science, buy age-appropriate analytical games and science experiment kits and make time to use them with him.
The “Pseudo” Aunt or Uncle
You don’t have to be a blood relative to be considered and aunt or uncle. Often good family friends are closer to the children than the parents own siblings, and can be known affectionately as aunt or uncle. You are a pseudo aunt or uncle because of your close relationship with the child’s parents. Buy gifts that you know the parents would love. If they are teaching their child languages, buy a language learning game. If the child is at the teething age, buy teething toys etc. RedEnvelope’s handcrafted basswood blocks feature foreign letters (choose Chinese, Japanese, French, Hebrew or Spanish) and numbers, and teach sorting, matching, ordering, language, logic, motor skills and problem solving.
Whatever your relationship with your niece or nephew, make it a significant and meaningful one. Be present in the child’s life, and look out for their best interests. Your niece or nephew will benefit from the extra love and affection, and being a part of their life will strengthen your relationship with your siblings too!