Dear Savvy Auntie,

I live with my brother and his girlfriend and my one-month-old nephew, their first child. My brother's girlfriend is 22 and we're not much different in age but we are definitely different in maturity level. I'm looking for advice as a new aunt on how I can help without stepping over toes.

I struggle with needing to be in control but this is a situation that I don’t have much control over. They’re not horrible parents but it’s just difficult as an aunt to have to step away. I feel like he is almost my child. I studied early childhood education and I did a lot of babysitting so kids have always been a constant for me. So, it concerns me that my nephew's mom uses the baby for attention, whether it be on social media or wherever.

I find myself wanting to step in but unfortunately I know she won’t take my words. It’s frustrating when she thinks she knows everything, because she definitely doesn’t. How do you handle someone who thinks they know everything and ignores anyone else advice?

In-House Auntie

Dear In-House Auntie,

Kudos to you for knowing your needs to be in control. Your self awareness will be helpful in navigating a very common and difficult situation.

I suggest that you praise the new mom  in as many ways as you can and try very hard to not be critical nor judgmental. Keep in mind that first time moms are usually anxious and insecure, so support and compliments will ease this. Keep alert to ways you think she is “not” a good mom and look for ways she is. Social media is not harmful at this stage, it is her way of being proud of her baby and her mothering.

An important way to have your impact is by modeling positive parenting as an aunt. Don’t tell her what to read, just read parenting books and perhaps leave one around her home. I recommend Diary of a Baby by Daniel Stern. It speaks with the baby’s “voice” and then “translates” it for the parent so they can understand the baby’ s needs and experiences.

Best of luck
Natalie Robinson Garfield

Photo: Tatyana_Tomsickova ,

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