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Creating Bonds: Children and Aunties + Friends That are Like Family
^^Avery is my little best friend, we FT and Marco Polo and play iPhone games throughout the days. We went to France together last fall and had a blast and shared a room, she always wanted to sit by me at dinner or on the bus, I adore her! You will read a quote from her later in this post about why she thinks she is so close to me and what I do to make her feel special.
Every close friend of my mom and dad were aunties and uncles, and they really were like family! When I was maybe 10, I had this little book that people filled out their name, and under “my favorite aunt” I handed the book to my Aunt Gail and she said, “But I’m not your real aunt,” but I didn’t care, I honestly didn’t even think of her as NOT being my auntie, blood or not. My Aunt Gail was one of my favorite aunts, as was her sister-in-law (also not blood), my late Aunt Alice. The aunties I had in my life were so impactful and I felt incredibly loved by them that I carry on the mission to play a similar role to the children of my best friends.
How do you create a bond with your kid’s friends? If you are a momma, how do you encourage a special bond between your babe and your best friends?
Small children don’t have a cell phone to text you or call you to say hi and build a relationship – they don’t know what it’s like to keep in touch like an adult. So that’s where mom comes in, they help cultivate and encourage a relationship. I couldn’t be close to these kiddos if it weren’t for their moms – I mean my little buddy Aaron can’t drive himself over to my house to hang out with me – not yet anyway. And I’m waiting for the day when Avery is of age and can hop on a plane to help me garden! *wink*
I am sharing tips as Auntie for 10 years now to an adorable tribe and my best momma friends give their tips to Aunties and moms on ways to teach your kids to feel close to your friends. I hope this post creates a community for you – which ever life boat you are in, whether you want your kids to have a special Auntie in their lives, or you would like the blessing of being involved in a child’s life. It’s a win for everyone!
^^ I’ve changed Aaron’s diaper. It was one heck of a shocking story. I will bring this up to him when he’s older so he is aware how hands on I was with him. ;) I also set college rivalry aside and bought him a Sparky pillow, oh my! Don’t tell Wilbur!
ADVICE TO + FROM MOMS:
HOW TO ENCOURAGE YOUR KIDS TO BE CLOSE TO YOUR FRIENDS
How close I am to a child is dependent upon how my friend encourages it. The title Auntie starts, and then it kind of opens the door to the role. But you also need your child to feel excited to see them.
- Give your friend the Auntie title right away.
- Let your friend watch your kids.
- Spend holidays with them.
- When you say bye, tell your kids to say, “Bye Auntie, Love you!”
- Bring your kids around often, that’s the only way time is spent – that’s why you are close with your friends right? Time!
- Invite your friends to your kids birthday parties
- Involve your kids with saying happy birthday to Auntie and Uncle
ADDITIONAL Advice from mommas
I thought I would have some of my girlfriends share some advice about how they coach their kids to feel close to their friends. After all, an adult can only be so close to a child, their schedule and chauffeur is mom and dad, so it’s about how much time the parent gives and encourages that helps cultivate the Auntie-child bond.
As for moms wanting their kids to bond with their bffs, I suggest talking about them often, show them pictures, maybe even have your kids call her Auntie! It’s a little thing, but it’s different (hey wait, mom doesn’t call all her friends Auntie, this one must be special!) Like all relationships, developing a bond takes time. The more time you can spend with kids during the early years lays the foundation for a relationship to grow as the child grows. – Jennifer
Spending time with your kids and your friends together is what allows the kids to develop the strong bonds. As a work-from-home & homeschooling mom, my kids are with me nearly 24/7. I’m only apart from them when I’m working or on a date with the hubs. They run errands with me, go to (most) appointments with me, and go to the gym with me. I realize this is not the typical situation, but as their caregiver and teacher I know they’re learning so much about life by being with me most of the time. My closest friends also understand that if they want to hang out then my kids are part of the deal. And I love that my besties love seeing my kids just as much as they love seeing me! I feel the same about their kiddos, too! – Brenna
One practical way I encourage this is talking with my kids about our friends like they are apart of our family. Many of our friends are refered to as “auntie” or “uncle” and we make it a point to spend quality time with them, like we would with our families, when possible. Another way we encourage a relationship between our kids and friends is by praying for them together, the kids grow in their love and concern for them. – Michelle
I remember the time I spent with my aunts and uncles, and the crafts I did with my dad’s college roommate, my late Uncle Bud .
HOW TO BE CLOSE WITH YOUR FRIEND’S KIDS
“One of the things I like about you is you alway go traveling with us and you travel the world and that’s been awesome to have an auntie who likes to do that. You’re always very thoughtful and whenever you go – for example, when you went to Taiwan you were thinking about us and asking what I would want or wanted. You are always thinking about me and I love that. I’m glad you love the Lord and you like almost all the things that I like. We like the same things so I enjoy that a lot. I enjoy that you’re an example and you always get things done and that’s awesome.” – Avery, 9
I also want to note that an absence of the Auntie title doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t close. My next door neighbors growing up when I was very little were Jeff and Teri and I still keep in touch with them and reach out asking to see them when I go home. They are so special to me and are a huge part of my memories as a child.
Of course how close you are to a child is dependent upon how often your friend brings the kids around, so with that I will just say enjoy them being present as much or little as they are and just love every kid that walks through your door!
- Make your house kid friendly if you don’t have kids. We keep toys in our home in a large basket and show the kids so the little ones know they are welcome to our home and can play. We have outdoor toys too. This creates a welcome environment so your friends feel like they can bring their kids over and the kids feel welcome – we love hearing when kids LOVE coming over and beg to come over, how special is that? Also, know that there’s a strong possibility a few things in your home will be broken, it’s just going to happen. So move things out of arms reach, or know that things are just things.
- When you are with them, almost be a nanny. I have no experience nannying but I would open doors, push the stroller, or take the kids out of their car seat. I just became very hands on – especially when there’s more than one kid. At a restaurant grab a kiddie chair, booster, try to think ahead so your mom friend can rest for a bit. This also creates a bond with the kids as you help take care of them in small ways.
- Ask kids questions. They might not be able to converse with much extent but they can tell you what their favorite color is, who their favorite teacher is, what they want to be when they grow up. Sure it’s small talk, but that’s what makes it easy.
- Offer to watch the kids. Whether mom and dad just need to unpack in the new house (I’ve done this) or they need to do something real quick, offer to relive them. This gives you time to play with the kids too.
- Send videos or photos for the kids. If you know what they like, take photo or video and capture it. Send a funny animal filter singing happy birthday for them.
Although some kiddos are blessed with a large number of blood aunties and uncles, keep in mind a child can never have too much love or attention. You can be just as close with a friend’s child than their relative! The most important thing to do is just love on children!
^^ Ethan, the second from the left, was the first diaper I ever changed. I had no idea what I was doing. Michelle threw me a diaper and told me to “figure it out” as she got ready. These kids call me Auntie and I consider myself incredibly close to them having held each of them when they were days old – they are not all from the same family, just had to say that LOL
advice from MY momma FRIENDS
Give kids little gifts to let them know they are special to you. For my kids, bringing them a special yummy treat has the same impact! ;) It’s sometimes hard for kids to know which adults are important in their lives, especially the more people you know! By remembering their birthday, even if it’s bringing by a cake pop from Starbucks (along with an iced latte for mom!) it sets you a part from the other adults in their lives and makes them feel loved. Food and gifts are tangible expressions of affection and kids understand that! – Jennifer
I love that Diana’s house is always so welcoming for kids. She has fun toys and outdoor activities, so my kids don’t even think twice about wanting to go to Auntie Di’s house. It’s always a resounding, “Yes!” She also makes sure to offer them hugs, snacks, and asks them questions about what’s going on in their lives. At this point (my kids are 6 and 3.5) their answers are most likely about swim class, ballet, or their new favorite board game to play with Dad. But I know that when they’re older they can trust Auntie Di with more “real life” questions. While so many kids these days look up to celebrities, I want my kids’ role models to be people who are in their real lives, whom they can call at a moment’s notice, and whom I trust to love them like I do as their mother. – Brenna
If you are someone who desires to be closer to your friends children, I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to interact with them each time you’re together. Ask them questions and take interest in something they enjoy. I would add that relationships are a two-way street, our kids have to want to build a relationship at some extent in order for it to grow.I was curious what my kids would say about auntie Diana and uncle Benjamin and this is what they said: Auntie and uncle are nice to us, they love to spoil us! Auntie tells us we can do whatever we want. She welcomes us in her home and let’s us sleep there. We love that she is organized and everything is pretty and in its place. We are never bored, there is always something to do. Uncle Benjamin loves playing with us, he plays all our favorite games and he’s funny. He quizzes us on what we are learning and gives us money prizes. He includes us in what he’s doing, like starting fires or watching surgery videos. – Michelle
I also wanted to share a few sweet things my friends do that are icing on the cake they really have blessed me (and Mr. Wonderful) with sharing their kids and we really enjoy them! We also keep paper plates, plastic cups and crackers and cheese (like you would serve adults) on hand for snacks.
What my friends do to create that bond with me and their kids
- Share videos of them saying hi to me and wishing me a happy birthday.
- Share hilarious photos and stories about them, just daily things that makes me feel connected to their kids.
- Send me drawings or little notes to me from the kids wishing me happy birthday
- Will call me or FaceTime me when their kid wants to talk to me even if it’s jibber jabber, it’s sweet
I don’t think this necessarily makes a difference but I feel it is worth mentioning. Your friends who don’t have children – whether they just haven’t yet, or choose not to, can really enjoy the presence of your children. They have a little more energy and time and can dive into your kids since they aren’t living a daily parenting life. This to say that if you have girlfriends who don’t have kids you may find they would LOVE to be more involved with yours, so include them and see with no expectations, don’t be hesitant.
I hope that helps you navigate through the special bonds when friends are truly like family.
Related Creating Bonds posts
- Children and Aunties: Friends that are like Family
- Making New Friends as an Adult
- Creating a Group of Friends
- Being Friendly with Neighbors
Are you an Auntie or do your kids have a special Aunt or Uncle? Share your wisdom about those relationships in the comments and if you have a sweet memory of an Aunt or Uncle that wasn’t a blood relative but made an impression on you!
*This post was originally published on Jan 17, 2019 and revised on May 29, 2020.
I was lucky to have 7 aunts, all my Dad’s sisters! I can’t remember life without them, and I am still very close to 3 of them. As I became an aunt, I became very intentional and one of my favorite traditions is “frosting of the nose.” As my nieces were growing up, they would come to my house and we would make and frost sugar cookies. This always involved a photo of all of us with a dab of frosting on our nose! They are grown up now, but the tradition continues with my grand babes.
When my kids were growing up, my Grandma always had fish crackers and M&M’s for them, always! I have a snack drawer at my house that all the kids know is for them.