Start with a frank conversation.
If you’re an aunt or uncle who doesn’t have children, Dr Lakshmin said, it’s almost like you have to learn a different language. âYou are not well versed in the world of being a parent. TV shows, toys, all the struggles, âshe said. âIt’s really hard to know what questions to ask. “
It may be helpful to start by asking your brother what his hopes and expectations are for you, said Joseph S. Tan, clinical psychologist in the Department of Family Medicine at UVA Health in Virginia.
“Different people are going to have different needs and wants,” said Dr Tan, “and some things they would rather deal with on their own, and some things they would like a little help with.” He recommended being honest about what you are also hoping for with this budding relationship and why you need your brother’s help.
You can also support your sibling by putting in a little more effort early on, right after your niece or nephew is born, Dr Lakshmin said. Maybe that means offering to babysit or help with laundry every Wednesday. Or if you live far away, Dr. Lakshmin suggested, you can send your siblings dinner one night a week for a few weeks.
âThings like that, that don’t even necessarily have to do with your connection to your niece or nephew,â she said, âbut just support your brother in a difficult time, so your brother knows sort of like, “Hey, I’m here, I want to be involved.
Create a regular ritual.
Planning one night a week that you read a story together in person or on Zoom, or an annual vacation for the whole family, can take the load off your siblings and strengthen family bonds, experts said.
âThe key is to have something regular,â Dr Lakshmin said, so parents will know: âThursday night we don’t have to worry about dinner because it will be take out that my sister is going to. Or on Saturday night I have 20 minutes of free time to have a glass of wine in peace because Joey is going to buy a Zoom book. ‘ “