How to Keep Your Nieces and Nephews in Your Life When Your Sibling Is Not
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
By Katelyn Fry
What’s that old joke? “Women: can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em."? Well, if you ask me, replace “women” with “families” and you’ve got yourself a golden truth. No one is perfect. No family is perfect. Let’s be real – half of the world’s most popular TV series or movies revolve around dysfunctional families. It’s a reality that everyone faces at one point or another, no matter to what degree.
Unfortunately, not all family drama can pan out like it does in Hollywood. In the real world, family relationships and experiences run deeper than they do on-screen and typically aren’t as easy to bounce back from. It’s even harder when that drama involves the children in the family.
I’m facing one of these dilemmas myself right now, which brought me to ask and answer the question: How do I keep my nieces in my life, even when my sister is not?
Keep Them Out of It
First and foremost, you must make it abundantly clear to your sibling, and both agree, that your nieces and nephews have nothing to do with your own personal problems. Similar to when a couple is going through a divorce, your main objective should be to keep the kids as far from the fighting as possible. They don’t need to be exposed to that kind of negativity.
Set Times to Talk
Just because you and your sibling aren’t speaking does not mean you and your nieces and nephews shouldn’t be either. You and your brother or sister should set aside certain times that you get to have a phone date with your little guys. Whether it be every day when you’re home from work, or one nice, long FaceTime or Skype session to see their faces and catch up, find a scenario you can agree on.
Of course, if your nieces and nephews are a bit older and have their own cell phones and means of communication, this will be much easier. I’m fortunate to have a soon-to-be-sixteen-year-old niece who is more iPhone-savvy than I am. However, her younger sister is eight, and I have come to learn that establishing these chat-times early on is very important.
Plan Days Together
You and your sister or brother may not want to see each other right now, and that’s fine, because there are plenty of ways to see your nieces and nephews without having to see their parents. Until the problem between the two of you is resolved, plan visits at your own house instead of theirs for a while.
If any of you have a stubborn sibling like I do, don’t hesitate to present it in a way that may sway them more. “Why don’t you take the night/weekend off and I’ll take the kids?” You can even offer something as simple as picking them up from school, soccer practice, taking them out to eat, etc.
Many of you have nieces and nephews who are involved in clubs, activities or hobbies – sports, music, art, theater, science fairs, dance, etc. Personally, one of the greatest things I have learned to maintain throughout this difficult time with my sister is my determination to still be a part of everything my nieces do.
I have continued to go to my younger niece’s sporting events. My sixteen-year-old niece is the lead vocalist in her high school’s chorus, and I refuse to miss a show. The only difference now is that I no longer sit with their parents. But after the game or the concert, I can at least give the girls a hug, let them know I was there and how proud I am of them, and that I’m never going anywhere.
Whatever your niece or nephew is involved in, do not let this sibling feud prevent you from being as supportive as you’ve always been. You are not there for your brother or sister. You are there for the kids.
Work on It
Sibling rivalry is no joke. You’ve grown up together. You know each other inside and out. As humans, and especially as siblings, it’s hard to admit when we’re wrong sometimes. It can be equally difficult to see the bigger picture.
Thankfully, we have our nieces and nephews to remind us of that very picture – to remind us that at the end of the day, family is family, and it will be forever. I’m sure your little ones would love to spend time with both their aunt and their mom or dad again, just as much as the two of you would.
Don’t let this go on forever. I believe everyone’s situation is different, and while I hate clichés, I believe time is the greatest healer of all. Day-by-day, little-by-little, work on this with your sibling. Life is too short. Plus, you’ve got some pretty cute kids waiting for the two of you to play with them together again!
Published: February 15, 2017