Families take many forms and shapes. Sometimes they are made of the parents/guardians and their children, sometimes, the extended part of the family joins in to make it whole. The extended family includes, the aunts, and uncles.

Unfortunately, due to different factors, the roles of aunts and uncles have been watered down in the family setup. In earlier times, aunts and uncles played important roles in the extended family which included:

Sexual health education

In days gone by, sexual education was a docket for aunts and uncles. They were the the only ones with whom you could comfortably hold a discussion about the birds and the bees. This is due to their experience and the fact that they likely didn't make the topic any more awkward. Young women from most African communities learned about marital sex by following directives from their aunts during their bridal shower.

Menstrual hygiene education

Before all the technology and information overflow, aunts would help their nieces when they started menstruating. This included purchasing sanitary wear for them and walking them through how to use the items.  

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Hosting rites of passage

During circumcision, birth and marriage ceremonies, aunts and uncles played a major role. They would organise parties, receive guests as well as offer invaluable advice for a better future. Uncles were greatly involved in dowry negotiations to compensate for the parents' leniency.

Psychologists

After that first heartbreak, it was almost natural to turn to aunts and uncles for consolation. They also provided advice that helped their heartbroken nephews and nieces on how to move past breakups.

Also read: Six things that will make your new relationship last

Friend and role model

If you had a close aunt then you know the influence she had on you in terms of fashion and choosing friends, among other things.  In some cases, they were the very first real friend you ever made. Aunties and uncles would also walk their younger friends through any marital conflicts and would reinforce respect and values that were needed to hold a marriage together.

Down roads we go
Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Nanny/nurse

Everyone has that one aunt or uncle who keeps reminding you of your childhood and demanding that you compensate them for the trouble you put them through when you were a child. This was either your dad or mother's younger sister who dutifully  cared for their nieces to earn favours from their siblings.

After child birth, some women would call on their aunts to nurse them back to health. The aunts had the patience required during postnatal care which is exactly what a woman needs at that particular moment.

All these were roles that no other member of the family could do better than your aunts and uncles because they made better friends and they had your best interests at heart.

Featured Image: Diergo Cervo - stock.adobe.com

The July issue of Parents Magazine celebrates 35 years!
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