On Being a Childless Aunt: My Favorite Nephew . . .

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of a person holding a small red heart in between their thumb and first two fingers with sunlight in the background on "On Being a Childless Aunt: My Favorite Nephew . . . " on Not So Mommy..., a childless blog

Not too long ago, I posted an image on social media that pronounced, “Every child needs at least one adult who is irrationally crazy about him or her.  That adult is me.”  In the description, I stated (among other things) that to my nieces, I’m Tia; to my friends’ kids, I’m Aunt Brandi; and to my favorite nephew, I’m just Brandi.  The response to this post was overwhelmingly positive, with others telling me about the awesome kiddos in their lives.  But one individual took issue with my words…

You shouldn’t say…

On Instagram, a lady assured that she was not a troll, but felt it important to share her opinion.  She cautioned me about using “my favorite nephew,” stating this could cause problems within the family in the future.  She also asserted that children don’t need someone to be “crazy” about them, but rather children need love, support, and structure.

As I read her words, I chuckled.  (Honestly, as I write, I’m grinning.)  When I told my Mom about the comment, she laughed out loud!  Why?  Well, let me explain…

On love, support, and structure…

For 17 years, I was a high school Spanish teacher.  In fact, I was “mean ol’ Miss Lytle.”  (Teen-agers don’t really see the need to say Mrs. when Miss will suffice.)  Even in my 20s, I was “mean old Miss Lytle.”  You see, I am a rule-follower, and I held my students to very high standards.  In fact, I was voted “most strict” one year, which I considered an honor.  The beautiful thing is that at the end of the school year, when kids wrote me notes, I’d get comments like, “I was so scared when I saw your name on my schedule, but now, you are one of my favorite teachers!”  My kids figured out over the course of the year that I cared deeply for them and wanted them to learn.  That’s why my classroom was very structured and why I offered them a lot of support…

Even my oldest niece commented one day, “You’re not really mean, Tia.  You’re just…  Like a teacher, you know?”

I laughed out loud about that teen-age logic!

But in all seriousness, my nieces and nephews know that I expect them to behave.  I have been known to ask, “How many times should I have to tell you something?”  “One time,” the melancholy response comes.

Now, if you notice I said “nephews,” plural.  So, though the “children need love, support, and structure” bit of the argument seems to have been dispelled, surely, I shouldn’t laugh at the caution about not playing favorites…

On favorites…

Well, as my post “Plan B: Redefine – Aunt” states, “No one seems to mind that I ‘collect’ nieces and nephews.”  In other words, I claim lots of kiddos as nieces and nephews.  No second cousins or just a friend here!  No, I’m an auntie…

My Favorite Nephew . . .

But I only have one blood nephew.  And a couple short years ago, I started calling him “my favorite nephew.”  Now, when I told this super smart kid that he is “my favorite nephew,” he looked at me grinning and said, “Aren’t I your only nephew?”  To this I responded, “But you’re still my favorite!”

The one-and-only…

He’s the first kiddo that I’ve ever claimed as a one-and-only favorite.  When my students asked if they were my favorite class, I’d say, “You are my favorite sixth hour.”  When our youngest niece questioned if she was my favorite of the three girls, I told her, “You’re my favorite Jillian.”  But my favorite brother gave me one nephew, which has allowed me to be My Favorite Nephew’s favorite aunt.  (Have you guessed that I only have one brother and my favorite nephew only has one aunt?!)

A perfect-for-me kid…

Photo of Brandi Lytle of Not So Mommy... with her favorite nephewI adore being able to proudly state that this super intelligent, kind, sweet, funny, ornery, unique, handsome, amazing, loveable, incredible, perfect-for-me kid is my favorite nephew!  He makes me laugh so hard and so often that I smile just thinking about it.  He is a sweetheart to Maddie.  His good grades make me proud, but his kind heart makes me even prouder.  He is his own person, rockin’ his flamingo swimming trunks this year!  He loves, loves, loves chips & salsa, chili dogs with loads of cayenne pepper, and spicy ketchup on his fries.  A strict “no double dipping” policy he enforces, but he’ll eat a piece of pizza that has fallen on the floor!  And he’s impressive in his black powder gear, throwing a tomahawk with the best of them.

Despite my less-than-stellar reaction when I heard my little brother was going to have a little before me, I have come to realize that God, once again, knew what He was doing!  My Favorite Nephew fills a very special place in my heart.  He is one of the BIG reasons that I state, “I am childless, but I am NOT childfree.”

Yes, I am irrationally crazy about this kid.  And I make no apologies about it!


*In a much briefer response, I did explain to the lady who commented on IG that I do believe in offering kids support & structure (as well as crazy love!) and that my favorite nephew is my only blood nephew.  She did not respond back, but rather deleted her original comment, as well as my reply.

Social media image which states "Every child needs at least one adult who is irrationally crazy about him or her. That adult is me." Posted On Being a Childless Aunt: My Favorite Nephew . . .


I’d love to hear about the kiddos in your life, fabulous one.  Please, tell me about them in the comments!

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Awn June 17, 2019 - 3:30 pm

I am my grandpap’s best granddaughter. I’m also his worst because I’m the only one!

I will say I do have favorites among my nieces and nephews. I think that’s completely fine as long as I don’t treat anyone as less than someone else. My favorites happen to coincide with those parents in my life who supported us empathetically through our infertility. It’s easier to spend time with those kids and not have it sting. In the three years since we’ve been done with treatment my relationship with my other nieces and nephew has improved tremendously. Maybe one day they’ll all be favorites!

Brandi Lytle June 17, 2019 - 5:12 pm

Thank you for openly and honestly sharing your perspective, Awn. It does make sense that being around littles whose parents were empathetic about infertility would be easier… Honestly, I had never considered that before. Hugs…

Sherry June 17, 2019 - 2:06 pm

Ok, this blog made me laugh out loud multiple times and grin the whole time. One thing I admire you for is being confident in yourself enough to grin at an negative comment because you know it isn’t so. Your Conner time is super important in his life. You and Dane have introduced many new ideas through travel and thoughtful conversations. He is a better young man for it and he LOVES his Brandi and Uncle Dane. And I finally figured out why he says that. I always refer to you as Brandi and Dane as Uncle Dane. Duh!!!❤

Brandi Lytle June 17, 2019 - 2:26 pm

Oh, your comment made me smile! I love being “his Brandi.” And I always refer to Dane as “Uncle Dane,” as well. No matter the name, I know that I have a special role in my favorite nephew’s life. And I am soooo grateful for that!

Kelly June 17, 2019 - 11:18 am

Thank you for this post. I am childless but not childfree. My twin sister has 2 children (1 who is 11 and 1 who is 4) These two adorably different girls look so much like me being my twin sisters kids. It has been a delight and also a challenge seeing them grow up. Thankfully i’ve never had to claim a favorite. If asked I’ll say like you that you are my favorite megan or my favorite katie. I am so crazy about them and love to play with them so much that when i am with them and my sister she likes to call me her 3rd child. So thankful that even when it was hard i’ve stayed so close to my nieces as experiences like feeding them, playing with them, and going to school functions, and seeing their firsts most likely will be moments I will never have with my own child. I am living my parenting through them. And though even though it is challenging at times it is and can also be so rewarding. Thankful to have found this blog at this time as I’ve been struggling with things like graduations and parties and receptions for upcoming weddings. Feeling like other people are moving forward in their life when I can feel at times so stuck in my own battle between childlessness and childfree due to infertility. I look forward to staying connected to this community.

Brandi Lytle June 17, 2019 - 11:25 am

Thank you so much for bravely sharing your heart, Kelly! Despite the circumstances that brought you here, I am so glad you are a part of this community! And I am extremely grateful that you have such a special relationship with your nieces and your twin sister. Your words made me smile and tear up… That’s the thing about loving our nieces and nephews so much as childless aunts… We smile at lovely memories and special moments, while also feeling that ache knowing, as you said, that “their firsts most likely will be moments I will never have with my own child.” Sending you so many hugs! (And hoping you never get asked about a favorite! 😉 )


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