Being an uncle or aunt is awesome, basically it is experiencing parenthood without most of the responsibilities it brings. Of course you want your nieces and/or nephews think that you're one of the coolest people in the world. However, being cool is not enough to be a good aunt or uncle. You need to be the person your nieces/nephews can look up to. Here are some tips for becoming that person.
Respect the parents. Aunts and uncles are typically less strict than parents, they may allow their nephews and nieces to have ice cream for lunch or stay up late watching movies. We know that you love your nieces and nephews to bits, and it is so tempting to spoil them rotten, but you need to remember that you should support the parents. You have no right to undermine the parents' authority. It is possible to love the kids without spoiling them.
Keep in touch. If you don't live in the same city, you probably don't see your nieces and nephews very often. To be a really good aunt or uncle, don't forget to stay in touch with them in between when you see them in person. Kids get super excited when they receive a personal phone call, postcard or letter from an adult. We aren't saying that you must talk to them every day, but at least contact them every now and then and don't forget to congratulate them on their birthdays.
Listen to them. Sometimes kids tell their aunts and uncles things they are afraid to tell their parents because uncles or aunts seem more approachable. If your niece or nephew wants to share something with you, don't dismiss them, listen attentively and offer them consolation, support, advice or whatever the situation calls for. Trust is hard to gain, so if your nieces and nephews trust you, you should do your best to justify their trust.
Don't make it all about “big events”. Kids think that their aunts and uncles are cool because they take them to the zoo, amusement parks and museums, throw slumber parties, take them out for ice creams and milkshake, play video games with them, etc. Having fun with your nephews and nieces is great, but if you really want to become a part of their lives, you need to do mundane things with them, too. You can show up one evening to help them with homework or cook dinner when the parents are busy, drive your niece to her dance class, attend your nephew's football game, etc.
Keep your promises. If you want your nieces and nephews think that you're the coolest person in the whole world, you should never ever make promises you can't keep. Most kids take not keeping a promise very seriously, they get really disappointed when an adult lets them down. So don't promise your nephews and nieces to take them to Comic Con or buy that cool toy they've been dreaming of unless you are completely sure you can keep your promise.
- What to Do If Grandparents Spoil Your Child, How to Connect With Your Grandchildren, How to Get Along With Your Cousins