Dear Savvy Auntie,

I am a 25 year old aunt to an incredible four year old niece. I nanny-ed her for the first year of her life and see her on a daily basis. I'm her best friend and also a pseudo parent. The problem is, I'm still living in my parents house and I'm at the age (ok, long past the age) that I really need to move out and have my own life. I feel like, for me, it is best to move away from the area to gain my independence, but I dread leaving my niece. I'm afraid she'll forget me or she won't understand why I'm leaving. How do I reconcile doing what is best for me and not hurting my niece?

Leaving Home

Dear Leaving Home,

It is a conflict that many aunts struggle with. Whenever there is an either/or solution, I advise focusing on the third way. In your situation, I think the third way is a combination of time and geography. It may also be a stepping stone solution. Try out a temporary solution and see what  aspects work and which ones just need some fine-tuning.

In other words...when the water looks too cold, just step in one toe at a time; don’t jump in.

I assure you that your niece will not forget you. Rather, the strong foundation about loving and relationships that you have transmitted, will live on and inform her future relationships.

We have given many suggestions for ways to stay connected when physically apart; please get in touch when you get to (if you get to) the next stage.

Best of  Luck,
Natalie Garfield
The ,

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