There are people who might also find themselves in the unique role of becoming an aunt or uncle without having their own children. A 2010 Pew Research Center report states, “Nearly 1 in 5 American women ends her childbearing years without having borne a child.” In the U.S., more than 60% of adults between ages 25 and 34 live without children in their home.
While articles sharing the benefits of being a parent abound, being an aunt or uncle can be equally fulfilling for adults — and also beneficial for children.
Aunts and uncles don’t have an obligation to participate in the upbringing of their nieces or nephews, but many do choose to participate. The more positive influences children have in their life, the more positive habits they are likely to develop.
Here are seven of the endless benefits (for adults and kids) of being an aunt or uncle:
- Lots of love to give. The more snuggles and kisses, the better. They are encouraged, given freely and cherished.
- The “cool” factor. Aunts and uncles are automatically cool because they aren’t mom or dad. They also always show up with a smile, kiss — and possibly a gift — and make a beeline for little niece or nephew. Extra dessert or staying up past bedtime is likely when aunts and uncles are setting the rules.
- All of the excitement, with fewer meltdowns. Aunts and uncles show up to parties, play games and participate in arts and crafts. Then they get to go home to unwind.
- A second (or third) set of hands. Aunts and uncles have an interest in the well-being of their nieces and nephews and can act as a secondary caregiver. Changing diapers, babysitting and taking them to activities are a few examples that these special family members can help with.
- Financial assistance. Aunts and uncles might be able to help financially with things that will enhance their niece or nephew’s life. Skateboards, bikes, vacations, college and summer camps can be expensive, and aunts and uncles might be able to help ease the financial load.
- Stress reduction. Spending time with family is one way to reduce stress. When aunts and uncles spend time playing and laughing with their nieces or nephews, they are able to forget about their own worries and life stresses. Plus, moms and dads might have a few moments alone to decompress.
- Having a close confidant. Depending on the topic, talking about certain issues sometimes isn’t easy to do with parents. Aunts and uncles can be there when nieces and nephews need someone other than their parents to confide in. They can patiently listen and offer guidance that is in line with family standards, but might be received more positively coming from someone other than a parent.
Adera Robinson is a marketing assistant at Sharp HealthCare and a very proud aunt.