Uncles and Aunts in the Family Team Picture

So, one of the questions that we’re constantly wrestling with is where you’re building these multi-generational family teams, is to try to understand and recapture the extended sort of family roles. We talked about grandparents a lot on this podcast, but one of the roles we haven’t talked as much about is uncles and aunts, your siblings, your spouse’s siblings, and how they’re supposed to operate in a family team. 

If you go back in history and read a lot of stories from ancient cultures, even 100 years ago plus, and see the role of aunts and uncles in the context of family, one of the roles that they tend to play in a family is they’re kind of the disruptor. Everyone’s got those crazy aunts or uncles, and they’re not too impressed by you and your amazing family team, or your amazing parenting. They’re going to ask hard questions, and that can be really tough. So, a lot of people find this collision happening with their siblings or their spouse’s siblings around how do we deal with the aunts and uncles. 

I would encourage you guys that if it’s not a real toxic situation, sometimes there’s danger involved, there’re real problems and there needs to be distance, but any time that there’s reasonable amount of health there, but they’re just different than you, they think differently than you do, they have different perspectives than you do, they love your kids and they care about your family, but they don’t think the way you do, to at some level embrace that as part of what’s important as an extended family role. 

This happens also, you guys, in the church where we’re all called to be brothers and sisters, but the people that are my brothers that I’m hanging out with that are believers, they’re kind of uncles to my son or my daughters, or aunts so to speak. I think it’s important to understand that you and your wife will only bring so many perspectives into the family. You’ve got blind spots. There’s also just a host of perspectives that you may not agree with, but your kids are going to run into over time as they’re out in the world. That’s kind of the role of the uncle and the aunt. 

Sometimes it will be around a Shabbat table, and a particular sibling of mine, or April might something to my kids that I don’t agree with, and I’m always kind of like, “That’s kind of cool. I kind of like that my kids are being challenged-


“With other perspectives by people I know love them, I know understand and love us. They just don’t see things perfectly the way I do.” If that’s the only issue, I think that’s actually kind of important to have in the family. Sometimes when people are really getting intentional about family, they want to create all kinds of boundaries against anyone that might have a different perspective. I’m not sure that’s healthy. I don’t think historically that’s what was going on. I think we need to have a lot of sort of tolerance for our kids hearing those perspectives, and give the aunts and uncles a little bit of space. 

Again, there are huge exceptions to this. Don’t put your kids in a dangerous or super toxic situation. But in general, this can be really healthy. Jeff, what are your thoughts about this? 

Yeah, and one thing I would add too that I was thinking when you were talking, is I think aunts and uncles have some of the best stories, too. They have such a cool perspective on stories as siblings with you. There’s just a perspective that aunts and uncles have. I say I feel like sometimes they can almost be just really, really good storytellers and pull out really unique ones, and different ones, and kind of the unflattering ones. I think they kind of equalize you, which is another thing I think you were kind of saying too, which was really interesting. 

I would say, yeah just lean into it. I think it’s actually a huge part of the fun multi-generational part of family, and what God’s kind of intention was, like I said, with exceptions. It’s definitely a blessing. 

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