As a society, we often praise the role of parents, and rightfully so they dedicate their lives to the growth and development of the next generation, but at we overlooking an incredibly important individual in the lives of children across the nation? Aunts are an integral and often underestimated part of the family.

We have been inundated with the belief that the only way to find true happiness in this world is to find that ‘special someone,’ settle down and start a family – however, is parenthood really the one true secret for a life filled with joy? A study published in the ‘American Journal of Sociology’ suggests that we may be missing the mark, In fact, it revealed that parents in the United States report less happiness than their childfree family members.

Childless Aunts and Uncles are often treated with ‘kid gloves,’ the members of the family that we should feel sorry for as they haven’t started a family of their own. They may not be at a position in their lives where they are ready to start their own families, focusing on school or careers, or they may not be able to have children of their own due to struggles with infertility. Regardless of the reason, we often view them as not quite having everything that they desire, but maybe they truly have it figured out?

You see, Aunts and Uncles play an integral part in the lives of their nieces and nephews. Not only are they the second line of defense when it comes to the parenting of these children, stepping in when mom and dad are exhausted and in need of a break – they are also able to develop a unique level of friendship.

Despite the fact they are responsible adults, children view their Aunts and Uncles different than they do their parents. This allows them to open up in a profound way, sharing some of their deepest secrets, admitting to many of their biggest mistakes and seeking guidance in their darkest moments. While they may fear punishment for their choices should they reveal them to their parents, they expect the ‘cool Aunt’ or ‘cool Uncle’ to understand and sympathize.

This isn’t exclusive to biological Aunts and Uncles. In fact, the title doesn’t require a blood connection at all! There are Aunts and Uncles by relation and those who take on this title by choice. We have godparents, step-Aunts and Uncles, those who marry into the family and those who take on this role after acting as a coach, teacher or mentor. Together, they form a support system that helps to guide, mentor, and love children alongside their parents.

They may not have their own children at home, but they fill their lives with love by opening their hearts up to the children around them – their biological nieces and nephews, the children of friends that they readily ‘adopt’ into their own family, and children they meet throughout their lives due to their careers, hobbies and past times.

Let’s celebrate the people that helped us to become all that we are in this life, with National Aunt and Uncle’s Day on July 26th. This is a day to acknowledge those who played such an integral role in our own lives. Thank you for all that you do!

Image via Early Mama

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