It never hurts to have too much love, especially when it comes from a woman as caring as a mother and as special as a friend.
For many of us, our mothers hold a special place in our hearts. They were the ones we turned to for advice, the ones who would hold us when we went through heartbreak, the ones who would scold us for going out so late at night but only did so because she was worried for our safety, the ones who would share in our laughter or sadness. They were truly important to us. But they weren't the only female role models we needed in our lives.
At some point, you must've had an aunt who played a role in molding you into the beautiful and smart woman you are today. Now, you're an aunt to another young woman. And you're just as important to them as their mothers are, according to psychologist and family expert Steve Biddulph.
Speaking to ABC's Maggie Dent on her Parental as Anything podcast, he opens up about the significance of an aunt's role in a girl's life. He mentions that it is not enough that just the mother who plays a role in a young woman's life. He suggests that the constant pressure on teenage girls from social media can lead them to suffer from anxiety. But if they have someone outside of their mothers to talk to, it can help them. And this can be vital for their development.
“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 want to turn out like her mom,” said Biddulph in the podcast. That's where aunts come in. “They don’t want to listen to you but they still need someone to listen to. Aunts are a pillar of mental health for girls. It doesn’t have to be a blood relationship, it’s just somebody around your mom’s age who loves you too," he continued.
And you play that role to someone else, whether they're your siblings' children or a woman you took under your wings. Though it might seem a bit unfair or harsh to a mother, but it's natural for young women to look to other women for advice on life. All that young girl wants from you is for you to be there with them through everything without needing you to actually fix anything.
Here are some ways:
If you start forging a bond with your niece when they're young, not only do you give their parents a little reprieve from parenting, but you also give them the opportunity to know that they can trust you. You provide them with a home away from home.
You don't have to physically be next to that young woman all the time to connect with them. Even if you're far away and in this world of technology and internet, keeping in contact with your niece via a call or an email can go a long way in building a stronger bond. Talk to them about the simple things, laugh with them about their crushes, hear them out when they're going through heartbreak. Let them know they're safe with you.
You might not completely agree with what your niece is saying or doing, but if they wanted to be scolded, they would have gone to their mothers. They come to you because they know you'll really listen and understand them. They take comfort in just being in your presence. Offer them advice but trust them to make their own decision. Letting them feel like an adult can help boost their self-esteem and confidence in a way they might not be able to at home.
Show them what it means to be comfortable in your own skin. When they see you being accepting of yourself, they'll imitate that and it's something they sorely require in such an image-conscious world. They see being beautiful and intelligent and they want to emulate that.
They love their moms and they love you. A young girl may benefit more from having more female role models who can guide them in the world and help them navigate it. So it's okay to be one for them. After all, you hold a huge part of their heart as well.