“Parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles are made more powerful guides and rescuers by the bonds of love that are the very nature of a family.”
Henry B. Eyring
Having a fun aunt or uncle in the family is like having outriggers on a canoe. It gives the family balance. Much like a grandparent, they can interact with your children without having the ultimate responsibility for them. An aunt or uncle can be fun and still, either by example or advice, help give your children stability to get through life. They can also add a little spice to your family life without any long term corrupting of your children!
So what does it take to be the fun aunt or uncle in the family? Here are five tips that should help:
It really… really… really helps to go out and harvest a ten foot gator
An adventuress aunt or uncle is a fun one. The “wows” and “holy cows” from my children when they saw the gator that their Uncle Randy harvested screamed from their texts they sent me after seeing this picture. A wall full of mounted big bucks or big fish works too. A stable of horses or teaching my kids to dance the funky chicken rank up there pretty high. Going lobstering or scalloping or shopping or sailing or going to see the fireworks, all bring adventure to the lives of your nieces and nephews.
Break a few house rules
In a world of don’t do this or that, it is a great relief to the kids when one of their aunts or uncles breaks the rules of the house. It may not look or smell great but they not only can get away with it, they remind our kids that it is okay not to be perfect…and they can do it in a way that does not ultimately disrespect the parents. A Green Bay Packers tattoo, lizards on the ear lobes for earrings, irreverent T-shirts and an occasional burp all count towards the crazy fun aunt and uncle label and are somehow tolerated (and even encouraged) without upsetting the “noble” family goals.
Be a good story-teller
Some of the most memorable moments for my kids have been sitting around a campfire or post holiday dinner table listening to stories. Whether it was the bull that kept jumping the fence and what happened to him next or the boat trailer that lost two axles on the way back from the scalloping trip, the kids are glued to every word. A fun aunt or uncle can always tell a good story and can tell a good joke. Laughter keeps the kids coming back. Peeing in your pants from laughter is not stylish but certainly keeps the aunts in an exciting mystery category to our children. They never know what to expect.
Earn their love and respect
Play as hard as you work. Listen as much as you talk. Take them places and do things for them that are clearly an effort on your part. We think that just the adults appreciate this but the kids recognize who is there for them too. Remember birthdays…well, at least remember their names. Ask questions about their lives with sincere interest. With this as a foundation, being a “fun” aunt or uncle will place you in a powerful role to have an impact on the lives of your nieces and nephews.
Kill a ten foot gator
This is really all you have to do if you want to win the “fun” aunt or uncle award.
I hope every family has fun aunts and uncles. I had them and my children have them now. God bless the fun aunts and uncles of the world!
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