I want to be a good aunt.

My older sister just had a baby, and I’m in my early 20s and don’t know much about babies or being an aunt. I find this experience amazing so far and am anxious but happy about all the changes in our relationship and our lives. What role can I take and how can I be involved in the little girl’s life? I’d like to be a help to my sister and have a good time with the baby, too. What can I do to be a good aunt?

Well, hello, sis. You came to the right place for this one, because I just happen to be the best aunt in the history of aunts. I have three nephews and six nieces, and I’m probably everyone’s favorite. Not to brag; it’s just true.

There’s one tiny little issue here, though…I know you love your sister, whatever, she’ll be fine. She doesn’t want parenting advice or help from a 22-year-old who doesn’t know shit about babies or kids. She already loves you, and you’re very sweet to want to help her, so let’s just accept the fact that being a good aunt, sometimes, will mean being a terrible sister or sister-in-law. Actually, now that I think of it, just think of the things your sister doesn’t want you to do, then do them, and you’ll be a great aunt.

For instance:

Sister’s Stance: “Susie loves Cinderella, and I hate princesses and all they stand for–patriarchy, needing a man to save you, big poofy dresses, and the concept that women naturally turn against each other. My daughter will never be into princesses.”
Your action: Buy Susie a Cinderella dress, plastic glass slippers, and a tiara. You’re a bad sister, but you’re a good aunt.

Sister’s Stance: “My daughters can’t wear makeup! It makes your eyelashes fall out and they take too long getting ready for school already as it is. They’re beautiful without it.”
Your action: Next time you see them, smuggle mascara and purple eyeliner into their handbags, along with makeup removing wipes and a note that says, “I would never condone this, but here’s something interesting I read on the internet: you can put makeup on, AND remove it, on the school bus!” Your sister will never find out, and your niece will love you, and therefore, you’re a good aunt.

Sister’s Stance: “Thank you for watching the baby overnight. We’re working really hard on getting her to sleep through the night in her crib, so if she fusses, please don’t take her out.”
Your action: The second that little bundle makes a peep, immediately fetch her from the crib, put her in bed with you, and snuggle all night. Babies can’t tell on you, so your sister won’t even know what a good aunt you are, but it won’t matter, because your niece will be happy.
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