Who is the cool aunt?
Lots of families have one. You may have had one growing up. That one, childless aunt who always gave the best presents. The one who, in contrast to all the other grown ups, paid attention to what you were saying and listened to your side in a dispute. The one whose life you wanted to have when you got big.
This is the cool aunt, and now that you’re grown and childfree, that can be you. How? It’s actually pretty easy.
This is the most important step in being The Cool Aunt. It means you know what your nieces/nephews are interested in and what’s going on in their lives. Parents tend to have, for better or worse, pretty fixed ideas regarding their child’s likes and dislikes, as well as the motives for their actions. You, on the other hand, claim no control over your niece/nephew, and no responsibility, so you can listen without ego or bias.
Step 2: Apply the resulting knowledge toward gift-giving.
What makes the cool aunt’s gifts so cool isn’t the amount of money she spends. It’s about how well she knows her niece or nephew. Don’t try to compete with their parent for greatest number of gifts, and don’t buy them that expensive electronic device they’ve been dropping hints about. That’s in the parent/grandparent sphere.
Instead, look for something unusual that caters to their interests. Maybe your niece has a peculiar interest in furniture. Buy her an interior design drawing book. Or your little cousin has a real fascination with the planets. Buy him the original Cosmos series on DVD.
Why we all need a cool aunt.
This is what makes you the cool aunt. You know and encourage your young family members’ interests. Even the interests that seem strange for a child, and especially the ones their parent dismiss as silly. Because you aren’t their mom, you haven’t fallen into the habit of assuming you know them. You can still see things from their point of view. To a child in a world of busy and bothered adults, your interest in them is priceless.
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