Aunties Are 'Just as Important' as Mothers | 22 Words

Having a strong role model to support a person while they're growing up is essential to their growth and development - especially for young children.

But as it turns out, as well as moms being important role models for their children, aunts are just as important... especially when it comes to raising girls. According to Steve Biddulph, who is a published author and parenting expert, aunts can offer a unique kind of relationship for girls as they grow, which cannot be replicated by a mother-daughter bond.

Speaking on ABC's Parental As Everything podcast, the psychologist and author of Raising Girls And 10 Things Girls Need Most explained why aunties or other female figures are crucial for young women.

He went on to discuss the pressures that teenage girls face every day as a result of social media and their constant sexualization and he said it was essential that they had other women in their lives to look up to and turn to.

Biddulph said that young women are more likely than men to experience a dip in their mental health, developing conditions such as anxiety and self-harm due to the pressures put on them during the early years of life.

"One of the things that we know is that, for example, something every twelve-year-old girl knows for sure is that she doesn't wanna turn out like her mom," he told host Maggie Dent.

"This is sad, I'm not taking any joy in this, but there are phases when they don't wanna listen to you, but they still need lots of help. Aunties are a pillar of mental health for girls. It doesn't have to be a blood relation, it's just somebody around your mom's age who loves you too."

However, Biddulph explained that this painful change in this relationship is a positive step in growing up and that it is important for moms to consider that there will be a time when they cannot be there for their daughters. During this time, she needs to have another strong female figure in her life to help guide her the right way.

He also suggested that when the child turns 8-years-old, aunties should invite them around to their house without their parents to form a bond with the child that can be built independently.

He added that once that bond is created, that is the perfect time for aunties to ask their nieces deeper questions about their lives, like "What do you want your life to be about?" And question them about boys, offering advice they would rather not receive from their mothers.

"If you don't provide this then girls will default to the peer group, and this is where social media gets out of control because the peer group is very ill-equipped to be supportive," he warned.

Shout out to all of those amazing aunties out there! You guys are just as important!