Dear Savvy Auntie,

I am disabled and on a limited income, however my nephews and niece have other aunts who spend tons of money on them. I feel so horrible. I spend all the time I can with them and tell them how much I love them, but I wish I could do more. My niece is only nine months old and I have two nephews who are both three, I know this will only get worse as they get older. What can I do to get over this feeling of being inadequate? I'm so jealous of their other aunts, it really tears me apart, is this normal?


Jealous Auntie

Dear Jealous Auntie,

Dear Jealous Auntie,

Children are born into this world hard wired for love, not for "stuff." Your loving question shows you can give them exactly what they need and want.

I would suggest you develop traditions and rituals with your niece and nephews that make the bond between you even stronger and more special. Activities like crafts, games, food preparation (even your niece can tear lettuce for a salad at this age) and photo projects like album or frame making. The imprint on children of handmade or homemade activities lasts a lifetime; a new toy has a very short life span.

Believe it or not, having a disability can give you an edge as an auntie. By modeling strengths in the face of adversity, you offer them a lifelong lesson for themselves.

Yes, it is normal to be jealous and feel inadequate! It is what you actually do with your feelings that really counts. Most aunts and grandmothers are jealous. I believe it is a primal part of our psyche when we love the next generation and are not fully responsible for them.

I wish you the best,

Natalie Robinson Garfield

Natalie Robinson Garfield is a Private Practice Psychotherapist & Consultant in NY.

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