Dear Savvy Auntie,

My brother and his wife have two little girls, ages 7 and 5, who I adore dearly. But I'm hurt because they will not call me "Aunt." My brother thinks I am being over sensitive and ridiculous. How do I get him to understand that it does hurt my feelings and that I feel disrespected? As for the girls I have tried to gently ask them to call me "Aunt," but they just laugh. I pointed out to my brother that they call our mom and dad "Grandma/Grandpa" and my dad's brothers/sisters "Aunts/Uncles," so why not me? He just doesn't get it.

Unacknowledged Auntie

Dear Unacknowledged Auntie,

I can understand and sympathize with your desire to be called “Aunt” by your nieces. However, they are still young and may grow into it. Meanwhile, the closeness the title represents can be achieved (and in fact sounds like it exists) by cultivating the relationship and making it more and more special by establishing traditions and rituals special to them with you.

Perhaps, they are resisting because they call your Aunts and Uncles by their title, and they are an older generation. The children hear your brother and his wife call your dad’s sisters and brothers “Aunt” and “Uncle” and you only by your first name.

You can try having a serious conversation with your brother and sister-in law explaining to them the importance of being called “Aunt”; if all else fails you could try calling your brother by his first name with a chuckle.

Best of Luck,

Natalie Robinson Garfield

Published: July 3, 2011

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