Aunts Are Just As Important As Moms For Raising Girls, Says Parenting Expert

Aunts Are Just As Important As Moms For Raising Girls, Says Parenting Expert

Sometimes young women need people to turn to other than their parents.

Aunts are just as important as mothers when it comes to raising young girls, according to a parenting specialist. Growing up as a young woman has its own set of unique challenges. Even if your mom is supportive sometimes you don't feel comfortable talking to her about everything. So what do you do? You turn to your peers... but they might lack the maturity and knowledge to help you navigate through life. That's when you need another trusted adult and your aunt can be the one who can play the role of a trusted adult in a young girl's life very well. It could have started off as babysitting shifts and movie dates but it can turn out to be a beautiful, deep, and meaningful bond between aunt and niece. 

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Parenting expert Steve Biddulph believes that aunts are crucial in the developmental process. Appearing on ABC's Parental as Everything podcast, Biddulph said that teenage girls today face unique pressures on a day-to-day basis, due to social media and constant sexualisation. The psychologist and author of Raising Girls and 10 Things Girls Need Most elaborated the need for young women to turn to people other than their parents. This could be an aunt and what's more interesting to note is that it doesn't even have to be a blood relative.

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Tyla reported that Biddulph spoke to podcast host Maggie Dent about the subject. Dent is one of Australia's parenting authors and educators who share practical tips and answers to real-world parenting dilemmas. Biddulph told Dent, "One of the things that we know is that, for example, something every 12-year-old girl knows for sure is that she doesn't wanna turn out like her mum. This is sad, I'm not taking any joy in this, but there are phases when they don't want to listen to you, but they still need lots of help. Aunties are a pillar of mental health for girls. It doesn't have to be a blood relation, it's just somebody around your mum's age who loves you too." Meeting a girl of around eight, whether it is a niece or a daughter of a friend for lunch or a day out without their parents will help establish a bond. The adult can use this opportunity to ask meaningful questions about what the child wants to do with their life, and offer advice. "If you don't provide this then girls will default to the peer group, and this is where social media gets out of control because the peer group is very ill-equipped to be supportive."

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According to ABC, Biddulph pointed out that young women are more likely than their male counterparts to experience some mental health conditions, such as anxiety and self-harm. Sometimes even a wonderful mother might not be able to help a young woman in this situation. Biddulph said of teen girls and their mums, "They don't want to listen to you but they still need someone to listen to." That's where an aunt can come in. Sometimes a young woman is looking for advice and some other times she might just need to talk through her emotions and experiences. Here's when a caring adult ( who's not the parent) can listen. When she needs it, they can give her sound, thoughtful advice. As she grows up, despite what she may be going through, she'll know that she will always have someone trustworthy to turn to.

Representational Image Source: Getty Images/ Pollyana Ventura