11 Parents Reveal Why Their Kids Can't Do Without Aunts & Uncles

11 Parents Reveal Why Their Kids Can't Do Without Aunts & Uncles

11 Parents Reveal Why Their Kids Can't Do Without Aunts & Uncles

By Judy Koutsky

We know that our role as parents is essential for our kids’ growth and development, but what about extended family? "Aunts and uncles are important, because they offer kids the chance to have a close relationship with an adult who doesn’t have the same set of expectations as Mom and Dad,” says clinical psychologist Susan Bartell, PsyD. In other words, aunts and uncles are there for their nieces and nephews, but aren’t constantly reminding them to chew with their mouths closed, wipe their faces, keep elbows off the table, and do their homework. Furthermore, aunts and uncles serve as positive role models children can lean on in cases where they don’t feel comfortable confiding in a parent, says Bartell.

Moms and dads certainly value aunts and uncles, as well. Here, 11 parents share what makes those bonds so special for their kids.

1. “I admit it: I hate playing board games of any kind. And yet, my 5-year-old daughter loves it. Bring in Aunt Sarah, who lives down the block. She can play with her for hours. Aunt Sarah fills in where I can’t (or don’t want to).” -- Elisa M., Mount Vernon, New York

2. “I have five sisters and one brother. My kids love their aunts, but having just one uncle is really special. He takes them to sports’ events, and helps coach Little League; he really takes an active ‘male’ role in their lives.” -- Cheryl S., Oak Park, Illinois

3. “As a single mom, I really rely on the aunts and uncles (and grandmas and grandpas) to help. Yes, I have babysitters, but the love and effort that a relative gives my little one is priceless.” -- Lisa A., Maplewood, New Jersey

4. “Gum. It’s that simple. Aunt Cathy always has gum, which I don’t allow at home, so the kids adore her.” -- Rachelle Z., Chicago, Illinois

5. “My Jack knows how to put on the charm. When Aunt Rose comes to babysit, he knows he’s getting five scoops of ice cream, homemade mac and cheese, and lots of television. She can’t resist. She spoils him in a way a parent can’t (or shouldn’t).” -- Monica R., Dayton, Ohio

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6. “I didn’t have the best relationship with my aunts and uncles growing up – my mom was on tense terms with most of them. So, my siblings and I promised each other it would be different with our kids. And it is. I’ll take my sister’s kids on summer vacation with my family, and she’ll take my kids for spring break. It’s like having two moms.” -- Serena W., New Rochelle, New York

7. “Aunt Francine doesn’t have kids and absolutely loves them, so she treats my kids like hers. (It doesn’t hurt that she’s a teacher, so she knows exactly the activities and games to play.) I feel like she’s always there for them if they are in trouble or want advice from someone outside Mom.” -- Nancy K., Miami, Florida


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8. “My sister lives across the country, so my kids don’t get to see her too much, but when we get together at summertime, it’s like no time has passed. They go right back to where they were playing last summer. Their connection with their aunt and cousins is just the best.” -- Laura M., Schaumberg, Illinois

9. “As a single dad with three kids, my sister, their Aunt Jackie, pitches in constantly. She never acts like their mom, but is always there for support. They confide in her with problems at school or friends. She’s an important part of our nuclear family.” -- Ray B., Newport, Rhode Island

10. “Truth be told, my sister drives me nuts, but my two boys seem to really like her. And that’s all that matters.” -- Leanna P., Omaha, Nebraska

11. “My youngest went through some hard times -- hanging with the wrong crowd, acting up in school -- and while nothing I said ever seemed to penetrate, Uncle Ron took the time to be there constantly. Not giving advice, but just being there. Slowly, my son started opening up to Uncle Ron. Having a good adult influence in their life, that’s beyond important.” -- Sarah K., Seattle, Washington

Why are you grateful to have aunts and uncles in your child’s life?

Judy Koutsky is the former Editorial Director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also Executive Editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on Twitter @JudyKoutsky.

Image ©iStock.com/AleksandarNakic

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