If you were lucky, when you were a child you lived near to a large close-knit group of family.
Your parents had plenty of siblings, all of whom had kids around the same time, so there were always lots of cousins around for games & activities, and aunties and uncles to run to if your parents either weren't around (or maybe to escape from a telling off!)
Not everyone has this sort of idyllic childhood, though, and these days families all living close to one another is the exception rather than the rule.
You've all heard the phrase - it takes a village to raise a child... and it really does. If parents aren't lucky enough to have extended family nearby it stands to reason that the task of auntie or uncle will fall to close friends instead.
Friends that are willing to come over to dinner rather than always eat out, show up to family BBQs in the summer or even offer to babysit are like gold dust. So why would they not be elevated to the title of auntie or uncle?
If you move to a new city or town, or even a different country when you grow up, the chances are that the friends you surround yourself with might become closer to you than the family you left behind.
Whilst nothing beats family and friends who share the same childhood memories as you, it can be nice to surround your kids with people who are similar to you in terms of your lifestyle, career and other interests. Before we started Be So Baby, both Sorcha and I travelled a lot, and it is great to meet up with friends from those periods in our lives - Sorcha loves to introduce her two kids to friends who can talk about her life in Singapore pre-kids!
A friend of mine is an only child, and her parents both come from single child families too. Her daughter has one uncle on her husband's side, but no real aunties and uncles on hers. Her solution? All of her close friends (of which she has many) have become honourary aunties and uncles to her daughter.
Another friend lives on the other side of the world from her family, who have only been able to visit once in the 4 years she has been a mother. They keep in touch over Skype and FaceTime, but family friends really help to fill in the auntie gap when they are so far away.
Think about Christmas, Birthday or other celebrations in your family. You probably think (or at least assumed when you were a child) that your family's way of celebrating was the right or normal way. It can be a bit of a surprise as you get older to find out that not every family shares exactly the same traditions as yours.
When two families join together to start their own, they will likely keep some of their own family traditions as well as creating their new ones together.
Having aunties and uncles from outside the family bubble can bring in a whole new wave of fresh traditions and ideas. A friend of mine whose family is Chinese ensures that all of her honorary nieces and nephews receive a little red envelope for Chinese New Year.
Having kids of her own doesn't mean that Sorcha's honourary aunties and uncles cease to exist. They have now become honourary great aunties / uncles to her two little boys.
As a parent, she enjoys hanging out with her friends as well as family, and feels lucky to think that her children will always have both family and honourary aunties and uncles looking out for them.. and even better that they will have the option of places to stay all over the world as they get older!
Let us know who your favourite auntie growing up was in the comments below!
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