What do you think about being an honorary aunt?

auntAs far as I was concerned Freya would only call one person aunt – and that’s my sister-in-law.

When I was growing up I called several people who were good friends with my mum by that title but I found it really confusing, especially when I started junior school and we had to do a family tree and I couldn’t work out where the extra aunts came from.

I also felt sure that if they were my aunts then their children must be my cousins and I referred to them as such for a long time before someone in the playground said: “How can they be your cousins, you’re not related? You’re a fibber!”

“Ummm.”

When, as an adult, I became an actual aunt, it felt like a special bond had been formed and it was a link that only my nephew and I would share. Then I realised other people not directly related to him were referred to as auntie and, while I know the honorary title is a sign of respect and love, I felt really sad. It felt like our relationship wasn’t special anymore (not that I ever said anything, obviously).

I know it might sound daft and that being an aunt isn’t just a name but about being there for him – and as he lived thousands of miles away and I only really got to see him once or twice a year when he was little that wasn’t really possible. But maybe it’s because he lived so far away that I wanted to retain something that was just ours.

The funny thing is we do have a special relationship – I like to think it’s because I furnished him with as many noisy toys as possible when he was a toddler (I am awaiting suitable payback) and more recently through our shared geekery over online games – and it has nothing to do with what he calls me, which is actually just Tara.

And that got me thinking. Am I making a fuss about nothing?

Since having Freya and seeing the way my close friends care for her I want her to know that she has special people in her life who will look out for her. If adding aunt easily conveys that then maybe I should use it? However, I also want her to have a relationship with her only actual aunt (even though she’s far away) and don’t want to confuse Freya or muddy the waters.

Argh, I feel like I might be overthinking this.

Have you got honorary aunts or uncles or are you one yourself? What would you do?

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9 thoughts on “What do you think about being an honorary aunt?

  1. I called everyone aunt or uncle as a sign of respect as well as closeness growing up – I quite liked the feeling of having all this ‘family’ even if they weren’t blood related. Now as I am older they feel more like friends and the aunt/uncle has slipped away. My real uncle though – he’s never going to lose the title! I guess it all depends on the individual and the bond you have with them really?! I don’t think a name plays that much of a part in how you feel about someone, my ‘step’ dad lost the step part rather rapidly because he’s such a great dad and I don’t like him to feel separated from my mother and I – plus he earned that ‘dad’ title! Now I fear I too am overthinking things…sorry!!

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    1. I can’t tell if I’m making it into more than it should be. I probably am *drama queen* 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts, I think I’m come to the same conclusion, maybe it’s not about the name but the relationship? (Also, re your MacBook, I meant to say that you should get a plastic cover, if you haven’t already, because they scratch really easily).

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  2. This is a hard one and I can totally see what you mean. I too, like you and the previous poster, called very close friends of my parents aunt/uncle as a form of respect and love. And it never took away from my real aunts and uncles. I somehow understood the difference between the two. Even now I still refer to some people as aunt and uncle even though I’m well into my 30’s and they’re in their 70’s.
    I’ve started referring to very close friends of ours as aunt and uncle to BattleKid and yet don’t really use the term for direct family. My sisters are referred to by their names or more so their nicknames.
    I’ve never felt my relationship with my nephew was reduced somehow by him calling my sister’s friends aunt or uncle. To be honest he doesn’t refer to me as Aunt Catherine, I’m just Catherine.
    Dunno if this helps hun, just wanted to let you know I understand your feelings xx

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    1. Thank you! Yes, it does help. I’m the same with my nephew but I wonder if it’s because he knows I’m his (super cool) aunt even though he doesn’t call me it. I’m leaning towards just first names for everyone, I think.

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  3. My dad is one of five so I have aunts, uncles and cousins in abundance. I would have been the one in the playground telling you she wasn’t your aunt. We used to have a very popular lollipop lady in the town and everybody called her auntie. Drove me nuts. She really was my Aunty and I wanted that ownership! Ha! Same with the school secretary too actually… I really am related to everybody!
    I have no nieces or nephews by blood – so sad, but I do have a niece through my husband who I adore and luckily has always called me Aunty Clare. (well not now she’s grown up)
    As I have a bazillion cousins I’d love my children to have more than one but there isn’t much I can do about that!
    Friends are most definitely referred to by name

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    1. The funny thing is my dad is one of 10 so I had plenty of actual cousins but none of them went to the same school as me. Maybe that’s why I just latched on to the other ones.

      How funny about the lollipop lady. I wouldn’t have liked that either.

      I’m finding it all a bit confusing (as you can tell) 😀 I think I am heading towards just names though.

      Hope you’re having a good day.

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  4. My sons call their Aunt and Uncle by their first names and my niece and nephew call me Catherine. Go with what you feel happy with and what your friends and relatives feel happy with. Remember Mother Julian’s wise words “All shall be well”!

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