Dear Savvy Auntie,

I am the “aunt” to my partner’s two sons. She had them with her former wife about six and eight years ago. My partner is done with having kids, but I would love to have one of my own. I’m willing to go through the pregnancy and everything it takes to get there. But she won’t budge. I don’t want to leave her, so how can I get her to understand that being called “Aunt Laurie” is nothing like being called Mama?

Partner Auntie

Dear Partner Auntie,

Your situation is quite new and very prevalent. Our society has only had options such as IVF, donor sperm, surrogate mothers and gay and lesbian adoption in the last fifteen years or so. I have counseled many couples and the solution is not…”get her to understand.”

The solution is in entering a process of communication that leads to deeper understanding of each others’ feelings, visions for the future and concerns. The two of you should sit down, once a week for a month (or more) and have bite-size talks. Put all the cards on the table…money, parenting roles, religious practices, values, education and most importantly, your relationship. Listen to your partner’s point of view and really hear her objections. If you would like to contact me for an outline of topics for your discussions I would be glad to give you a structure and agenda. In the meantime, try to be more of a parent figure to the two boys. Be sure to have time alone with them that includes care taking. You might want to find a special name for yourself…Pallie, Buddie, Mumzy, or Luvey are just a few possibilities.

I wish you well,
Natalie Robinson Garfield

This Dear Savvy Auntie letter was first published in July 2008. We have updated it and republished it now - June 22, 2016.

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