The Importance of an aunt

The Importance of an aunt
Photo: Collected

Imagine loving a baby to bits, being able to spoil them rotten but then having the liberty to hand their squalling faces to parents and breeze a carefree goodbye — sounds enviable? Because it is. Sometimes, it truly seems as if aunts have the best of both worlds. With all the fun but without the daily mundane responsibilities, aunts are the first links for children between family and the real world.

Being a parent is hard work. From getting children to finish the peas on their plates to being the sole decision makers for their wellbeing, the physical and mental load can often leave parents impatient and angry at their children. Similarly, mothers and fathers can get overly concerned for their children, coming across to them as overbearing or anxious. Without the pressures and responsibilities of parenthood, an aunt is usually in a much better state of mental health and therefore, a great alternative for when parents are looking for a time-out. She can ease the situation, mediate if needed, and give the parents that much required breather.

Every aunt knows how much she loves her nieces and nephews but the real magic lies in the way the children perceive them. An older, safer person who is also fun and does not skimp on the treats makes a great package deal for them. They see aunts as a mix between sister and friend and find opening up to them safer than confiding in parents. Parents tend to get too anxious and let their emotions get in the way of children's independence. An aunty who is not tied down to that baggage can let the child breathe, and find their own solutions independently. Simply put, an aunt listens objectively, provides real life advice and does not turn it into a lecture.

Parenting experts feel that aunts are great mediators for children. Whether in their "terrible twos" or their "rebellious teenager" stage, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons are bound to clash at some point. Enter aunt with her calm, sensible, grown-up voice, calming the mother here, reassuring the daughter there. This makes children feel buffered and valued.

Looping the same topic, children feel that aunts judge less and listen more. This reassures them and provides them with a safe space to ask questions without the fear of backlash or repercussions. Many a child has been saved from danger thanks to a sensible aunt and many an aunt has been the first to know when a child goes on their first date or gets their first periods. It is reassuring to parents to know that children have someone more reliable than Google to answer their most embarrassing (or potentially dangerous) queries. It also allows children to grow into themselves and want to become trustworthy individuals themselves.

Aunts show children a side of them that parents, with their more serious role, often cannot. Whether blood related or not, these patient and loving individuals make great playmates during children's childhoods and the best coffee and gossip partners when they grow up. After all, who else knows the best titbits about your family, if not your aunt?