By Lavonne Kroeker, PHEc
Many of us have had the pleasure of growing up under the watchful eye of the sister of our dad or mom – an aunt can play a huge role in the life of a child. I am privileged to have many aunts as my parents come from large families – I remember in particular, attending my first symphony (which included Fred Penner!) with my aunts and a couple of cousins. This was not something my mom would have done and it was pretty special for this farm girl and something I remember distinctly at least 30 years later!
“Aunting” speaks to the ways in which women can influence the children in their lives – and I don’t believe it is limited to biological aunties. The impact can be on a neighbour’s child, a friend’s son or a colleague’s daughter. Earlier this year, I had the chance to walk my co-worker’s daughter over to the store to pick out a gift for her mom. Her biological aunt lives 2 hours away so I was happy to step in!
For some kids they find an aunt easier to talk to than their mom because they don’t have some of the tensions they experience in that relationship, especially during certain stages in life. Sharing life experiences (travel, education, work experiences) that are vastly different than parents, can broaden the scope of the child’s imagination and give them a wider scope to choose from as they make decisions about their future. As well, a loving aunt, only increases the positive messages a child receives and provides another stable, secure place to sort out life.
If you have kids, foster that relationship with their aunts, biological or otherwise. Encourage them to Skype or call – say yes when your sister offers to take the kids for the day, agree to that sleepover at your parents with your siblings and their kids and my favourite of all, invite aunties over for bedtime stories and good night hugs!
If you are an aunt, recognize the importance you play in a child’s life – celebrate it, be intentional about it and create space in your life for that relationship!
As a professional home economist, Lavonne Kroeker has worked in a wide variety of settings – an adult learning centre, child welfare, private industry and since 2007, as a Rural Leadership Specialist with Mantioba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives. Her job involves “creating leaders” in rural communities – whether its supporting volunteer 4-H leaders, chairing a Safety Day committee, developing programming for women in business or organizing training for farm women, there is never a dull day! Besides her day job, Lavonne enjoys volleyball, biking, creative pursuits and almost any outdoor activity!