DO stay in close touch. Telephone, write letters or e-mail, and send pictures and encourage them to do the same. Arrange visits for doing special activities. Introduce them to new opportunities, play games or just spend time with them.

DO give special gifts, but only if parents approve. If the children’s parents can’t manage the cost of a special trip or camp experience, you may be able to help with those opportunities also.

DO projects with your nieces and nephews. If you play music, knit, crochet, sew, or do woodworking or art, share these interests with your nieces and nephews. They’ll learn to appreciate your talents, and they’ll remember that you Aunt & Childtaught them special skills.

DO read and share books with nieces and nephews. Listen to them read if they enjoy reading aloud.

DO share stories about your childhood. They’ll particularly enjoy stories that include their parent, your sibling. Be sure you don’t describe their parent in a negative light.

DO say positive things about your siblings, their parents. If the children believe that you respect their mom and dad, it will help their parents maintain respect.

DO give your nieces and nephews a very clear message about education. Tell them how important learning is. Ask them about their grades and about what they’re learning in school. Your interest in their learning encourages their interest in their learning.


 DON’T spoil your nieces and nephews by buying them too much. They won’t appreciate what they have, and each time you walk in the door, they’ll expect gifts.

DON’T sabotage your niece’s and nephew’s parents. Don’t secretly tell the children, for example, “We’ll, Dad is punishing you, but now that your Dad is gone, I’ll let you watch TV, even though he said you couldn’t.” Sabotaging parents is the most damaging thing you can do. Siding with them against their parents is likely to encourage rebellion and disrespect.

DON’T impose your value system on your sibling’s parenting styles. There may be differences in philosophy between you and your siblings, but you should defer to parents’ wishes.

DON’T tell a niece or nephew that he or she is your favorite. Don’t say they’re smartest, most creative, best, or most special. It may make them feel good, but by comparison, the other children will feel less favored.

From Parent Pointers, in Learning Q-Cards by Dr. Sylvia Rimm (1996, Apple Publishing). Click Here to order

©2010 by Sylvia B. Rimm. All rights reserved. This publication, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without written permission of the author.