Becoming a ParAunt
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
Meet Lynne Gilbert, our newest guest columnist. Not only is Lynne a Savvy Auntie, she’s also a ParAunt, meaning she’s the primary caregiver for her nephew with special needs. She’ll be sharing her adventures in ParAunting with the Savvy Auntie community in the coming months.
My husband and I just celebrated our 20 year anniversary. We tried to have children for seven years and struggled through infertility. After the horrendous ups and downs of trying, we decided to not have children. At the time, my sister had two kids that we loved to dote on and spend time with.
About seven years ago, my husband and I took in our nephew. Due to mental issues, we had rarely, if at all, seen my husband’s nephew. When we heard that he was put into foster care, we offered to take him in until his parents completed what was needed by the court. We were told by the social worker that “it should be no more than a month at the most.”
Well, that time frame was way off base.
A Month Becomes Forever
We had NO idea what we were in for by taking in our nephew. In the coming articles I hope I can share with you what it’s like to care for your niece or nephew, let alone one with special needs. We had no idea what was coming our way: therapist visits, psychologist visits, court dates, parental visits, individualized education program meetings, potty training, how to deal with the emotional transition of being taken from one’s parents, coping day-to-day with an abused child and more.
I recently learned that the term for what I am is a “ParAunt.” What is a ParAunt? Well a ParAuntis an Auntie who takes in a niece or a nephew and becomes a parental figure to the child.
I will share what worked and what didn’t work for us; what we did to help our nephew get through missing his parents; how we dealt with severe emotional and physical meltdowns at home and in public and many more everyday problems AND joys that can happen when you take in your niece or nephew.
After everything our nephew has been through, the one thing that still shocks me to this day is his is ability to love unconditionally. No matter how badly he was hurt or how bad things were, he is still able to just love. That is a gift in itself. So I hope you join me on this journey and I look forward to sharing it with you.
Until next time,