Parenting (whether you are biological, foster, adoptive, legal guardian, or relative) has its challenges and ups and downs. And sometimes non-traditional parents like foster, adoptive, relative/caregiving face a lot of judgments, backhanded compliments, curious questions, and criticism they don’t need. They don’t need to be asked questions that produce shame or offense and have no impact on the child’s well-being.
I am raising my nephew, and this week I got offended, not the first time but this time by a professional we had to see. Although he is not my son, he is still my child. I have raised him since a toddler and I love him dearly, like my own. So, the professional asks me if her m.a addresses me as mom or aunt. I said, “mom.” I work in the education field and when a student comes in to work with their female parent, I assume mom. That is just natural. I often learn after that the guardian/parent may be specifically a grandparent or foster mom raising the student. And sometimes I still call the female parent mom unless I hear the student or parent say otherwise. It really wouldn’t concern me how the parent or guardian is such; it’s none of my business, as long as the student is safe and on track academically and postsecondary-wise.
Anyway, I was suggested by the professional who we were there to see to let her m.a know I am the aunt. My response was backed by confusion as to why was that necessary but my response was I let people know that I am the aunt. And the professional knew I was the aunt. In fact, I have clarified with many people that he is my nephew.
Do I have to wear a sign that says “I am his aunt” especially if paperwork states who I am and people close to us as well as other important people know that I am the aunt?
I have never forced my nephew to call me mom and in fact he is always auntie this and auntie that. Nor am I trying to replace his mom who is my sister and I also love dearly. I may not be a biological parent or traditional one but I am a parent. And my mom did mention to me it is how you present yourself. I have not always been as confident as a parent or advocate as I should be. And so I as embarked on my healing journey, I too embarked on building my confidence and voice as a parent. I have to be the best advocate for my child who just so happens to be my nephew.