260 – Leading as Aunts & Uncles

Aunts and Uncles are often halfway between a parent and a grand parent. In some ways, they are less of both, in some ways they are more.

A grandparent can tell the parents how to parent because the parents are the grandparent’s children; and aunt or uncle cannot because that would likely start a fight between adult siblings.

The whole family shares the obligation to provide leadership for the young. When adult siblings disagree about household affairs—likely dating back to debated ideals from childhood—the best leadership is by example. Parents lead in their own way and welcome the cousins, celebrating and learning from differences.

Cousins parents know each other because they grew up together. They know what they would do and few discussions would ever be new. Having aunts and uncles is one of the best graces God gave to the family structure because the cousins are different, yet the same. Aunts and uncles can’t just step in to “raise nieces and nephews correctly”, to do so would be foolish. They must lead with positive support, picking up the normal slack of human nature without interfering. Of course, they must also be tolerated, keeping parents on their toes.

In the later years, when the grandparents pass on, aunts and uncles become the new pillars for the family. They can offer wisdom and leadership, hospitality and help, a space to get away, harsh lessons, and kind counsel. The wise, great aunt keeps the family history and opens her doors to everyone in the family.

The “rich uncle” is a recurring reality. Often, the uncle became rich due to differences of philosophy from childhood. He was hated and everyone else became poor. In the adult years, his pleasure is to spoil the nieces and nephews, not out of spite, but to prove both that he was right about money and that, more importantly, it doesn’t matter. The cousins are all taken care of and the rich uncle’s siblings need not worry about their children’s future.

The aunt and uncle have much to teach the world and much to be emulated. Sometimes it’s best to see yourself as the aunt or the uncle in the room.