A new year brings resolutions, and mine include the desire to be a better parent. While much has been gleaned from personal experience and reading—especially the ultimate parenting manual, the Bible—many of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned came from my childless great aunts.
And, really, these lessons aren’t just for parenting…they help bring a little more love to all relationships.
My maternal grandmother was the youngest of eight children, three boys and five girls. She must have been a bit of a rebel, the first girl to marry. I remember my great-grandmother as a stern woman who managed to get three daughters to never leave the nest; they were my aunts Thelma, Lessie, and Mayme.
Although never marrying and starting families of their own, my aunts were a powerful presence in the lives of their nieces and nephews. They had hearts for children and I gleaned valuable lessons from their examples…
I can still see the interior of Aunt Lessie’s car, blue seats covered in clear plastic with raised dots, perfect for poking with little fingers. On summer Sunday afternoons she took my sister, cousin, and I to the kiddie pool at the local public park.
Surely a sixty-something woman had other things to do—lazy afternoon naps come to mind—but she toted us to the pool week after week, thereby giving our parents the break. I like to think that she enjoyed those times as much as we did.
Aunt Mayme possessed an uncanny ability to empathize with children. Behavior that I find frustrating and annoying was explained with fresh light by this little woman who could see through a child’s eyes.
I am guilty of expecting my children to reason with adult logic, but Aunt Mayme could effortlessly recall the mindset of youth.
Aunt Thelma turned sixty the month before I was born. She had bad knees and no driver’s license, but possessed the patience of a saint. Nieces and nephews sent their children for her to potty train. Endless hours were devoted to playing tic-tac-toe and dominoes with my cousin, sister, and I, sharing her personal tips and strategies.
Aunt Thelma was even less mobile by the time I had children of my own, but they, too, were drawn to her side. My boys shared her love of baseball and the Braves. She sat on the couch and pitched to my sons, who ran bases around the living room. Later, they would curl up on the couch and watch the game with this great-great aunt who knew all the stats and harbored a dislike for Barry Bonds.
I learned from her that kids don’t need expensive toys and trips, they just need your time.
Although my younger children will never really know their great-great aunts, my older ones remember. I’m thankful for the wisdom and godly example of these women, and the lessons that I can apply in the raising of my own children and in every other relationship too.
What’s one of your favorite life lessons?Leave a Comment
Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms says
I loved this, Dawn! What a legacy your aunts left for your family, and how smart you are to look and learn for parenting wisdom from ALL influences in your life!
What a gorgeous post! I’m so glad for you that you got to know these blessings!
Such a sweet tribute to your wonderful aunts! I love that they were so involved in all of the children’s lives. They definitely taught some great life lessons, and it was very insightful of you to define them and articulate them here. What blessings they are to your family!!
Kristi @ Pink and Polka Dot says
I loved this! It reminded me of my childless great-aunts…Aunt Myrtle and Aunt Pearl. They were both married and outlived their husbands. I grew up with them. My Aunt Myrtle died almost 15 years ago, but my Aunt Pearl is 94 and still just as dear. I’m so grateful my 10 & 6 yr old children get to know her. They adore her and she…them. I have learned much from them!
I had an extra-special unmarried and childless great aunt, also. I also learned one of my biggest life-lessons from her: Nothing is too small to pray about. I got my first pair of contacts when I was 10 yrs. old. Shortly afterward I was staying with her and my widower grandpa (they lived together on a farm), when I lost a contact while playing on the hammock. I went inside to report the loss to Aunt Ruth. I’d given it up as hopeless. She went outside, sat on the hammock, and prayed. (She’d never even seen a contact lense before.) Just a few minutes had passed before she was back inside, holding my contact between her fingers, saying “is this it?” And I learned that God cares about even our little concerns and lost items. I’m so grateful for her example!
Thank you for this testimony. As a childless aunt myself, I give thanks for the hope of influence for good with my nieces and nephews. Thank you again.
Erin H. says
This was so fun to read. One of the most treasured women in my life has been my Great Aunt Alene. She was widowed at a young age, without children, and never remarried. She was a second mother to my father, and a second grandmother to me. While my grandmother is a sweet, gentle homebody; Aunt Alene is an adventurous world traveler who never holds back or holds her tongue — even at 93! She was also a painter and an antique collector. She tells the BEST stories, and as a creative young child, I could sit and listen to her tales of far away adventures, explore her antique treasures, and sift through her paintings for hours. I still love her stories. Now she lovingly cares for her sister, my grandmother, although she always manages to get out of the house for BINGO.
What a sweet post and tribute to your aunts!
You are right, those three qualities will help in pretty much any relationship. Thank you for that reminder, especially the empathy part. Sometimes it’s easier than others!
As someone still on the journey to having kids, I love knowing I can have a legacy no matter what! Thanks for the new perspective and encouragement, dear Dawn!
Hillary @ The Other Mama says
I love this Dawn- what a sweeet family!
Isn’t is great to have encouraging family members? And ones that potty train? HELLLO? I think that sounds like a winner!!