Dear Savvy Auntie,

I am a 22 year old aunt. My best friend had her baby a little over a year ago and I have been living with her to help out with the baby.

I have done everything from waking up with her, getting her to sleep, changing countless diapers, feeding her, babysitting her at the drop of a hat, and many other things. I have been more involved than any blood relatives but I am not appreciated at all. She is even making up excuses as to why she won't leave her daughter to me in her will. My niece and I have the best relationship and it hurts that I am so unappreciated (by everyone but my niece).

Is there any advice you can recommend? I just want a little appreciation. I want them to brag about what a great aunt I am and I would love to get "aunt" gifts.

Tante Ashley

Dear Tante Ashley,

Welcome to the community of under-appreciated caregivers!

From sisters, to friends, to grandmothers, to aunts, to paid professionals, you are in good company... unfortunately. The natural consequences of being a caregiver are to be taken for granted and with expectations that you will do more and more. It is comparable to dads who go to work all day and moms who do everything for their children and the excitement and appreciation that greets the dad.

The unpleasant solution is to be less available and the vacuum you create will increase the gratitude. I do not recommend this as it is quite negative. The other solution is to accept the situation as an opportunity to increase your self esteem. Perhaps to even build in rewards to and for yourself ... “selfie” gifts. You could relish and savor the awareness and appreciation of your niece... that is the real and important acknowledgement.

As far as the will, it is very difficult for most people to consider their own demise. Also, wills are usually designed with blood relatives in mind. You are young... give this issue some time.

Good Luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield


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