Q: I am a 25-year old woman and I have a very close relationship with my five-year old niece. I babysit her almost everyday and we often go on little adventures to such places as the zoo, the library, and the park. A common bystander would assume that I am her mother. When asked about our relationship, how do I convey that no, I am not this girl’s mother without sounding like she is a horrid little wreck that I want nothing to do with? I love her very much, but I also appreciate that at this point in my life I do not have children. Somehow my previous responses of, ‘No, I am not her mom! Thank God!’ seem crass in hindsight.
A: How nice to have such a great relationship with your niece. Yes, you’re right that a response of “No, I am not her mom, thank God!” makes it sound as if it’s a chore to spend time with your niece. In addition, you can be sure that at five years old, your niece understands what you’re saying and may perceive you don’t like being with her — and it could upset her.
Instead, if someone asks, you can say, “No, I’m not her mom, I’m her lucky aunt who gets to spend lots of time with her!” or, “Actually, I’m her aunt, but I love her like a daughter!” Those responses would please your niece and more accurately convey your relationship to strangers who may inquire.
Enjoy your special friendship with this child!