The Problem with Being a Childless Aunt

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of a red heart inside a glass ball on The Problem with Being a Childless Aunt on Aunt/Infertility Blog on Not So Mommy...

As a childless not by choice woman, my nieces and nephews have a special place in my heart.  They are my kids, so I worry about them, pray for them, and love them fiercely.  I want only good things for them and talk with them about important issues like their hopes and dreams for the future.

I say, “If, not when…”

Because I know that plans do not always turn out as you desire, I have changed my dialogue with my nieces and nephews.  I no longer say, “When you get married” or “When you have kids.”  Instead, I have started commenting, “If you get married” and “If you have kids.”

Honestly, I began doing this for two reasons.  One, I want my nieces and nephews to know that they do not have to get married or have kids.  Two, they know that their uncle and I wanted littles, but could not have them.  So, I want them to also remember that just because you want kids, does not automatically mean that God will bless you with them.

She says, “I’ll just adopt…”

So, over Christmas, while talking with our nieces, I said, “If you have kids…”  To this, our middle niece responded, “Well, if I can’t have kids, then I’ll just adopt.”

Oh, those dreaded words—just adopt.  Mind you, she is just shy of 13-years-old and has no concept of what “just adopt” means.  Trying to give her a bit of insight without going into too many details, I told her that when I was her age, I used to say the exact same thing.  Going on, I explained that adoption is quite expensive and can cost upwards of $50,000, stating that was one of the reasons Uncle Dane and I didn’t adopt.  To this, she quipped, “Well, maybe I’ll be rich” and shrugged her shoulders.

Knowing this conversation wasn’t really going anywhere and understanding that it was very close to upsetting me, my sweet hubby stepped in and said, “We hope so.  Since you want to be a vet, maybe you will be rich!”  We all smiled and moved on to a lighter topic of conversation.

The Problem with Being a Childless Aunt

But obviously, I haven’t forgotten about this exchange with my niece.  And honestly, it did upset me a little.  Like I said, my nieces and nephews are so important to me.  As a childless aunt, one off my biggest fears is that we will grow apart, that I won’t always be such an important person in their lives…

From Special Days…

Before we moved to South Carolina, we used to have “special days” with our nieces.  We would take each of them for three to four days during the summer and do special things just for them.  We’d go to the zoo, go out to eat, have ice-cream, visit an animal sanctuary, attend a children’s play, watch a movie…  These days were incredible and created memories that I cherish to this day.  And during one of these special days, my middle niece said, “Tia, I love you as much as my mom.”  When I think about this moment, it still brings tears to my eyes.  What an absolutely incredible compliment.

To growing up…

But four years later and growing up, this same niece now tells me, “I’ll just adopt if I can’t have kids.”  And when I say something about her being my responsibility (because we watched them for several days over Christmas), she retorts, “I’m my mom’s responsibility.”  Or when I say, “That’s what moms do,” she exclaims, “You’re not our mom.”  (For clarification, I was not implying that I was their mom.  My sister-in-law is an amazing mom to her girls.  I was actually talking about their mom…  Well, and me, hoping they’d realize I love them like a mom.)

Are we growing apart?

Anyway, I digress a bit.  As a childless aunt, I’m just worried.  I’m worried that they are becoming teenagers and that they are starting to do the sideways, lean in, and barely put one arm around you hugs, and that we are growing apart…

My husband says I don’t need to worry.  He promises me that we developed a strong relationship with the kids when they were younger and that it will last a lifetime.  He assures me that their love will never fade.

But like my middle niece stated, I’m not their mom.  I’m just their aunt.  And their aunt who lives states away, at that.  So, I worry.  Because I already lost the biological child that I dreamed of.  I can’t lose my nieces and nephews, too.

So, I’ll just keep loving them…

So, I text them and I send them cards and I like their photos on Instagram.  I remind myself that the world was black-and-white when I was a teenager and someday, they’ll understand what it means that I love them with a mom heart and that I feel a responsibility for them even though I’m not their parent.  Someday, they’ll get that the world has a lot of grey…

I hope they never have to understand this infertility or childless journey.  If they want kids, I hope they can have them.  But I’ll be there for them, no matter what.

And despite the fact that they don’t always fully understand what I’m trying to tell them, I’ll keep talking to them about the future.  I’ll keep saying “If you get married” and “If you have kids…”

But as for college, now that’s a when you go! ?

If, not when Quote on "The Problem with Being a Childless Aunt" on Aunt/Infertility Blog on Not So Mommy...

Read more about My Aunt Life here

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Ali April 12, 2024 - 2:18 pm


I came across this and found a lot of comfort in the post and the comments. I’m in my 40s, have not yet met a life partner and make a modest income so I feel I cannot make the decision my sister made to become a single mom by choice. She also has not met a life partner, but is about to have a baby because she has the resources to do so… I am excited to be an aunt and I hope to be around and supportive to have a close relationship, but I worry about the same things you mentioned and it’s getting to me more than I thought!

Brandi Lytle April 12, 2024 - 2:56 pm

Ali, despite the circumstances that brought you here, I’m grateful you found this post and that it helped show you are not alone in your feelings. It’s acceptable to struggle, as you grieve not having children of your own. Because you are “excited to be an aunt,” I am certain you will find joy despite… Sending you loads of hugs, fellow warrior! And know, the Not So Mommy… community is always here to support, encourage, listen, & love!

Nouki May 8, 2022 - 12:35 pm

Hi! I’m also a childless aunt. The difference is that I’m single. I have two sisters. Each of them has 2 children and I’ve been involved in their lives since they were born. The older ones do not count on their father,so they have our support since they remember.
I get what you say on talking to them, but my experience was different. My nieces and nephew did call me mom when they were little and were corrected to not do it. It is a compliment I took with thankfulness. My eldest nephew says he sees as his own mom too and that just makes my day. When I’ve been sick they’ve taken care of me. I have honest with them in telling them that God may not have given me a life partner of children of my own, but that I will always will consider myself blessed for having them and how they unknowingly helped me when I struggled.

Brandi Lytle May 9, 2022 - 1:17 pm

This is beautiful, Nouki. Thank you for sharing your truth and your kids with us! HUGS…

Elli October 16, 2021 - 8:40 pm

I have MKRH-syndrome, meaning I was born with an incomplete/missing vagina and uterus, for those who don’t know. At age 18 I underwent surgery to reconstruct my vagina. Within the years I’ve become quite confident when it comes to sex. The child issue has however torn me apart since my early twenties. Children are wonderful, and the fact that I won’t be able to go the easy way to have them in my life and that I will miss out on all the experiences of biological motherhood was hard to accept for me and still is.
My sister is 4 years older and doesn’t know about my condition, at least not from me. I actually think my mum has told her, being the only one in my close family who knows about it.
I’m 30, my sister is 34 and she had her first baby last December.
A few years back my sister was in a relationship with another woman. My mum has always longed for a grandchild and at the time she dropped the line : “I’ll never have my own grandchildren, You can’t and your sister is with a woman.” My mum is a good mum, loving and supportive, but of course she has her own dreams and desires and I’m sure she didn’t think the effect of her statement through. Anyway, her giving me that line made me feel quite inadequate. And made me understand how much I will forever fail to fulfill that hope of hers. That thing, that will bring so much sparkling in her eyes and content in her heart (and mine of course, but that’s beside the point here).
Since my nephew has been born, my mum has pampered him to the max and she has every right to of course. I however struggle with the situation whenever I see my family. I love my nephew, he is adorable and my sister is a great mum. My dad is very proud being a grandpa too, but is all together a very needy and emotionally immature person, who, even if he knew about my condition, probably would not know how to be sensitive about it.
I know it’s very unfair of me, but I resent my mum a bit for the fact, that her dream has come true and she thrives in the results of it.
I know she loves me much and feels for me, I just hate being the one of us kids, who doesn’t bring the sparkle, but the complication, the unpleasant emotions.
I am grateful for my nephew but I also don’t dare to bond with him, my relationship to the whole experience of my condition is still messy, confusing, complicated.
I know no one is at fault, I still tend to resent my mum and sister for having things go their way so seemingly easily. And I resent myself for this irrational unfair thinking.
I hate to think about, how involved my mum is in my sister’s life, how much she lives the grandma experience.
I know they are being somewhat reluctant on sharing the true extent of how much time they spend together, I’m sure out of consideration to me. I know my mum wants me to be happy and my sister is a loving and well-meaning sister too. I just have a hard time processing all these difficult emotions when I’m with my family.
One aspect of infertility that I struggle with the most, is that it is a very complicated grief, with many secondary losses attached to it, like not being able to make my mum proud and happy and affecting the relationship to her and my sister (and so many others).
And the fact, that it is so invisible, disenfranchised. That the losses of this experience are so invisible, as they’re only constructs my mind had made, nothing physical.
My sister is very loving and supportive when I’m down in the dumps, but I’ve never talked to her about my condition and lately when I’ve called her up, when I was down, she was her usual supportive self, but when I hear the baby cry in the background and I know she has to tend to him, it doesn’t encourage me to tell her anytime soon. It just makes me realize the more, that she’s on the other end now and has more people to be there for now.
All of this might sound quite selfish and immature, but I just wanted to get it off my chest. This the first time I’m posting something online on it.
Also excuse my English, I’m not a native speaker.
Cheers + it felt so good to read your posts.


Brandi Lytle October 18, 2021 - 1:05 pm

Ellie, Thank you for trusting me and this community enough to be bravely vulnerable & share your truth, your heart, your story… I am so sorry that you are struggling through the grief and complex emotions of infertility & being childless not by choice. I am grateful (and believe it is strong) that you own your emotions and don’t try to hide that you are indeed grieving.

Because you say that your sister is so supportive and loving, I would encourage you to share a bit of your story with her… (Perhaps in a letter?) Others can only offer support if we allow them the opportunity. Though, of course, how much (and if/when) you share is completely up to you. This is such a personal journey.

I, along with the rest of the Not So Mommy… community, are here to listen and offer love, support, & encouragement. Please, check out the Resources page, as their is a vibrant childless community ready to walk alongside you on this journey. Sending you so many HUGS, Ellie…

Katie February 27, 2022 - 12:08 pm

I relayed to this so much. I’ve been trying for 5 years to have children and am still unsuccessful. My sister had twins – a baby and a girl. They’re almost 7 now and starting to ask me if I have kids. When I say “not yet” they ask me why and I just clam up and can’t answer them. Whoever is around me when they ask this will help me by changing the subject, but it feels like a dagger to my heart every time they ask. I’m also afraid of the same things you are mentioning. It’s never easy…I sometimes want to shut myself off because it’s so painful when they visit, but I also cry every time they leave because I love them so much. Bittersweet is the best way to describe it. ❤️

Brandi Lytle February 28, 2022 - 11:37 am

Katie, I’m so sorry you are struggling. Thank you for bravely sharing your truth, offering support to another. Sending you so many hugs, fellow warrior…

Riza Alconcel March 7, 2022 - 11:00 am

SENSITIVE COMMENT WITH A WOBBLE WARNING (From Brandi, Founder of Not So Mommy…): Mention of intense grief over feelings over “losing” nieces & nephews, including suicidal thoughts

Original Comment from Riza:
I am looking for tips and advices on how to handle separation anxiety and happen to stumble upon this article. I read your article and I can relate to what you’re feeling right now. I have the same situation. I am a single at 32. I am the only girl among us siblings. I don’t have a sister but I have a cousin whom I grew up with and I look up to her as my big sister. She’s 10 years older than me but when I was young she took care of me while my parents are working. She’s a single mom now and she have 4 kids. She went to Canada to work and left her kids to her mom, my aunt. We just live next door to them so I can watch over her kids too. I remember the times when I would cuddle with them, tell them stories, play with them, walk in the park with them. Oh the joy I have whenever I’m with them. I feel like I was there mom for that moment. I love them so much. Time flies so fast they now reached adolescence. Sometimes I get jealous when they would talk about stuffs and they’re leaving me out of it. I also get jealous when they will go out with friends. I don’t know. I don’t want to to feel hurt but it is what I’m feeling. I want them to enjoy life but why do I feel sad when I’m not with them. I feel lonely. And now I am feeling frustrated, anxious, stressed, etc when my cousin tells me to prepare the passports of her kids because they all will migrate to Canada. I will be left behind with no children. No kids. I will surely miss them. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how will I live without them. Sometimes I think that it would be better for me to just die so that I won’t feel any pain of losing somene I love the most. What shall I do?

Brandi Lytle March 7, 2022 - 1:16 pm

Riza, Let me first say that I am so, so sorry that you are struggling through the grief of “losing” your nieces and nephews. It is difficult as they grow, wanting independence. It is definitely a transition in the aunt-niece / aunt-nephew relationship. And I am also sorry that they might move so far away. I live halfway across the country from my nieces and nephews, so I understand how difficult the separation can be.

I am deeply concerned that you state “Sometimes I think that it would be better for me to just die…” Please, do NOT hurt yourself. Support from the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be found by clicking the following link – There is a toll-free number that you can call that provides “free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

If you are not located within the United States, please google “suicide hotline + (name of your country)” to find help.

This world needs your voice, Riza. Sending you so many hugs…

Emma June 12, 2021 - 12:36 am

I’m scared to get close to my niece and nephews for this reason. I am the eldest of three siblings and haven’t even managed to find a boyfriend, let alone a husband, home and family. I’m 36 and physically and mentally feeling old and ‘past it’ now after a difficult life. I have none of the things that I needed to be happy, but was pleased that at least my brother and sister got to have them. I just feel like a spare wheel, as I can’t relate to any of their conversations now and can’t afford to join in with most things either (they have good joint incomes and houses whereas I’m on a single low wage and technically homeless). Every time we meet up I feel like I’m trying to enjoy brief moments of their lives as if they are my own. With my niece and nephews that is even more evident. I look after my niece once a week and feel incredibly depressed when she goes home. Then I feel guilty for that, as she isn’t my child. I’m scared if I allow myself to emotionally bond with her even more, then it will cause issues when she starts nursery or school and I no longer get to see her as often. But looking after her is the only positive thing in my life.

Brandi Lytle June 14, 2021 - 9:54 am

Emma, I am so sorry that you are struggling. Thank you for trusting me and this community enough to be bravely vulnerable. I understand your fears and the depression you mention after your niece goes home. I often felt this way when our nieces were younger. And if I’m 100% honest, this still happens some now that they are older. It is so hard to put our hearts out there, fearing that love won’t be reciprocated and, perhaps even worse, taken away. It is definitely a struggle. And your feelings about this are valid.

After writing “The Problem with Being a Childless Aunt,” I wrote another blog entitled, “The Power in Being a Childless Aunt.” I believe this post might resonate with you, as well. Here’s the link, if you’d like to read –

I also wrote a blog called “Childless and Single,” which has resonated with many. Here’s the link to it, in case you’d like to read –

I also have numerous childless not by choice resources listed here at Not So Mommy…, including links to closed Facebook groups, as well as reviews of some incredible books by & for childless women. Here’s the link to the list of those resources –

Emma, you are not alone. There is a vibrant, loving, childless not by choice community ready to support and encourage you. Please know that I am always here to listen. Comment on the blog, email me directly, and/or join in the conversation at the public Not So Mommy… Facebook and/or Instagram pages. I don’t ever want anyone to feel alone on this journey…

Sending you so many HUGS…

Libby Morgan February 27, 2021 - 8:44 pm

Our older niece turned 20 yesterday (actually our niece and only nephew turned 15 yesterday too… yes, our nieces and nephew on opposite sides of the family all have the same birthday), and this hit me like a ton of bricks. Every since our old niece was in middle school, I handled the back to school shopping. It was our thing, a day to go and do and try on and laugh and argue over how ugly high-waisted jeans are. 😜 And I worried about losing that day with her when she went off the college (8.5 hours away). Nope. When she decided to do sorority recruitment, I’m the one she wanted to take her to find clothes and to get her recommendations letters. Our relationship has changed over the years as she’s gotten older but I think I love this phase best: we talk about big college things, silly sorority stuff… the big things, the little things. We don’t always agree but at least now she listens to me (like she might have figured out I’m not completely clueless). It’s truly a gift.

Brandi Lytle March 1, 2021 - 9:40 am

Libby, THANK YOU for sharing this beautiful story with us. It brought tears to my eyes and made me smile!

Our oldest niece will be graduating high school this May. As the kids get older, I truly worry that we will grow apart… Hearing your story that your niece turned to you… Well, it helps my heart to know that relationships developed when they were younger can and will grow as the kids grow.

I hope your niece does amazing in college! And I hope you know what an incredible aunt you are and what a positive impact you are making on her life!

HUGS, fellow childless auntie!

AuntieEm January 2, 2021 - 11:23 am

I’m an aunt to a beautiful red headed boy (my brother’s son) and one gorgeous 2 year old goddaughter (my sister’s daughter) I lost my niece yesterday, on her birthday, January 1. My nieces and nephews are my world. I spoil them both rotten. My brother and sister are amazing parents and I am so so close to both of them. They both love and laugh at me for being the fun and best auntie (their words.) Our whole family is at a loss. They all know how involved I was. I helped my sister so much during her pregnancy and after. My heart is breaking for so many reasons and from so many perspectives but I just don’t know how to be there for my sister. I keep
Reminding her I’m here when she’s ready but I just don’t know

Brandi Lytle January 4, 2021 - 12:45 pm

Em, I am so, so sorry for your loss. My heart breaks for you, your sister, and your entire family. I truly wish I had words that would help ease the pain… I am grateful that you trust the Not So Mommy… community enough to share your grief with us. I am certain that your presence and love is of great comfort to your sister. As you offer support to her, please remember to reach out for the support you need, as well. Sending you so many hugs…

M September 9, 2020 - 4:22 am

Brandi – you have no idea the impact you’ve made on your nieces. I hope you trust that the time and love you’ve given them will be appreciated. I have an uncle and had an aunt who did not have kids. They made so much time for me and my brother. They divorced, then I lost my aunt to Lou Gherig’s disease when I was in college. She was artistic, fun loving, and introduced me to foods and activities and art my parents never did. I’m sure I made comments about the fact they didn’t have kids, unintentionally and not understanding how it could have impacted them, just like your niece. As an adult, I’ve decided kids aren’t for me, but I always think about my aunt and aspire to be like her with my friends’ and family’s kids. Your impact is known. I promise you that despite any unintended ignorant remarks, your influence is felt, and they will be so grateful of your consistent love and support. They don’t understand the challenges of children yet, or how they might make their own decision whether to have them, or perhaps have a decision forced upon them. You have done everything right, and in the event they don’t have their own, you’ve set a standard for how they can be loving aunts themselves.

Brandi Lytle September 9, 2020 - 1:09 pm

M, your words brought tears to my eyes. THANK YOU so much for sharing your heart and your love for your aunt & uncle. THANK YOU for reminding me that my love has had (and will continue to have) a positive impact on my nieces and nephew. THANK YOU for giving me words of affirmation, validation, & strength! HUGS…

Cornelis August 28, 2020 - 8:39 am

Life has become so dark and lonely for me, i long so much to have a child of my own and after 13 years of unexplained infertility it doesn’t get any easier to process in my mind that i may never have a child of my own. I have become extremely close with my one niece and to me she became my daughter which i may never have. This relationship between us was mutual and she got so excited when she was coming over when my wife would pick her up for her to spend the afternoon with with us. I never imagined how difficult this would be for me to process when her parents turned her against me for unknown reasons, all this happened in a few months time, now her parents purchase all kinds of things for her and copy everything what we have done with her etc.
My wife and i have spoken to them on a number of occasions trying to find answers why they are doing this to us, but to no avail. My niece no longer even looks at us and despises us, and now her younger brothers are brainwashed to the same extent.
I believe this is all to extreme jealously of the parents seeing how excited and happy there kids are when they are around us.
What i looked forward to so much every other week for a few hours has now been taken away and it leaves a large hole in my life. I just hope someday she will come to see the light and comeback to us like she once did.

Brandi Lytle August 28, 2020 - 11:11 am

Cornelis, I am so sorry that you are struggling. I can feel the pain in your words and my heart breaks with you. I wish I had wise words of wisdom I could share… But all I can do is listen and send hugs…

Shawna July 5, 2020 - 12:40 am

I am a 41 year old single, childless aunt. For last nearly 6 years I got a taste of motherhood while one of my nieces struggled with drugs and worked to get her life together I raised her infant. She was 3 months when she came to stay with me and will be 6 years next month. My great niece and I have tackled this world together. Last month I was informed that she will be leaving me and moving 3 hrs away to be reunited with her mother. While I am proud that the mother, also my niece, is doing so much better my heart is also breaking. I feel as though I am morning the loss of a child that was never mine.

Brandi Lytle July 7, 2020 - 11:05 am

Shawna, my heart breaks with you as you grieve this loss. Though I know you are grateful that your niece is doing better, I can completely understand the pain you are feeling of losing a child that you have loved with your entire being for years. I truly wish I had wise or helpful words to give… All I can say is, please, be gentle with yourself as you navigate complex emotions that will no doubt arise over the coming months. The Not So Mommy… community is always here to listen–offering love, support, and encouragement. And please, never hesitate to email me directly if you need a listening ear. Sending you so many hugs…

Sandy July 8, 2020 - 7:39 pm

Dear Shawna, I can identify on a very small level of what you are feeling. My husband and I struggled with infertility and eventually went the private adoption route. I spent months speaking to a birth mom about the baby she was having a little boy, and who she was, who I was, and then came the time for her to have him. She was deeply conflicted and called me and told me she wasn’t sure if she could go tryi with it. I told her she had to do what was best for her, and I couldn’t tell her what to do. The baby came home with us for only 2 weeks and she changed her mind. My husbNd and I discussed this scenario and returned the baby to the attorney which we paid for, left a note that says if she changed her mind we would take him back. They did not, and we were left with dealing with this loss, my lesss time, but our we loved him like he was ours. I am sorry you have to go thru this excruciating pain. Much love and hugs. If you wanted to chat off line , I would be happy too.

Sandra Beaty January 15, 2020 - 8:22 pm

Wow, you have given me a lot of think about. May years ago when my nieces and nephews were a lot younger, my Mom and zi took them many places, camping, amuse,ent parks,movies, sleepovers. I really loved them, that was all before infertility came in. But when I wa at a Christmas this year, 2 of my nephews and o e niece were fighting over who is Aunt Sandy’s favorite. It was really cute . My nephews are 31, and 29 and my niece is 24, I guess they did remember all the times we spent together. It’s not like that all the time, them being young adults in all but they didn’t forget! Hold on to the Brandi, they won’t forget either! ❤️

Brandi Lytle January 16, 2020 - 2:37 pm

Thank you for sharing this sweet moment with me! I will definitely hold on to the promise that they won’t forget how much we love them and all the special times we spent together! 🙂

Shelley January 11, 2020 - 3:28 pm

I’m a childless Aunt of three – the first two are out if there teens, one married with a little of her own. My third. My 8 year old niece immigrated with her parents halfway around the world. It’s not even a week yet, but my heart is breaking. She lived next door to me and is my special girl. I feel like someone’s died, I’m crying for future special moments missed in the future, For her not growing up with her Cousins (she is an only child). I know I’m being selfish but I can’t help it. I miss her so much already. If anyone has a word for me I’d appreciate it, bless you all.

Brandi Lytle January 13, 2020 - 12:32 pm

I’m so sorry you are hurting, Shelley. It must be so difficult having your niece so far away now. I remember how much heartache I felt when we moved away from our nieces and nephews… Technology has really helped me. We FaceTime. Skype and Zoom chats are incredible tools, as well. It’s so nice to see someone’s face as you talk to them. I also write “old-school” notes and letters & send cards via snail mail to my nieces and nephews. I hope that after your initial grief, you will discover new ways to connect with your niece, even though she now lives far away. Sending you so many hugs…

Leslie Green August 13, 2019 - 2:02 am

Anyone never married, no children on this site? Life just happened and I never thought i’d be so alone now, am 78, wish I would have adopted at least or married one of those who asked me. Looking for my tribe.

Brandi Lytle August 13, 2019 - 9:47 am

Leslie, I am so sorry that you are struggling with loneliness. Though I am married, I do understand the feelings of isolation that come with childlessness. I know there are some Not So Mommy… community members who are single and childless, like yourself. I would encourage you to check out the resources page – I have 70+ websites, blogs, closed groups, books, products, etc listed there. I think it will help you find your tribe. Sending you hugs…

Jen M August 27, 2019 - 6:39 am

I love this post. Thank you so much. I too am a childless aunt who adores her nieces and nephews. I have a saying to them that I have whispered in their ears as babes and still tell them as adults. I don’t know if they fully grasp the meaning behind my words. I whisper “I love you more than you’ll ever truly know.” They are my children, my nephew & I are besties and I have an extra sweet-spot in my heart for him. My dream since a child was to have a baseball team of littles, I’m 43 and have come to terms after one failed marriage and now one amazing fiance, that God has other plans and we can not change things if He has something else in mind. We’ve spoken of adoption, financially unless you’re loaded it’s an impossible dream as is IVF or surrogacy. Fostering is a definite option but I’m selfish when it comes to this as I only want infants or 1-2 year olds since I never experienced these blessings. I keep praying that things will happen. But most importantly, I thank God I have my some amazing people to shower with my love. It’s helpful when I come across people such as yourself that have experienced or are experiencing the same heartaches as I am.

Brandi Lytle August 27, 2019 - 12:16 pm

Thank you for sharing your story, Jen! I tell my nieces, nephews, and exchange daughter the same thing… I love them more than they’ll ever know…

Laura L. April 13, 2021 - 11:28 pm

I’m a childless aunt. I have been such an integral part of all of my nieces and nephews lives since birth. I have been there for every milestone in their life, have planned vacations, weekends, etc for their entire life’s. I have helped them with school papers, navigating college, navigating life issues, have a few live with me a time or two for several months at time. I have been told I’m not just an aunt but like a mother. Now my closest niece is getting married and because of her anxiety she wants a very small wedding. The parents on both sides are making it difficult for her to invite who she wants. The fiancé doesn’t want to to rock the boat with his parents. If all aunts and uncles are not invited then neither should I. So I now feel like wow I’m just an aunt. I can’t get past this feeling of despair. I feel so heartbroken. I have been told I’m being selfish to feel this way. I am not one to hide how I feel. I did say I wouldn’t talk about it again since I felt the fiancé is afraid of his parents and their feelings. He even told me I mean more but they can’t delineate. Any words of advice? Any thoughts to make me see it the parents way?

Brandi Lytle April 15, 2021 - 4:37 pm

Laura, I am so, so sorry that you are in this awful situation. Thank you for trusting me and this community enough to be bravely vulnerable and share your truth. My heart breaks for you and with you. I am trying to think how I would react if I wasn’t invited to one of our niece’s weddings… Like you, I’m not sure I could “get past this feeling of despair.” I, too, would be utterly heartbroken.

As for advice… I am struggling. I simply cannot come up with a perspective that helps see the “parents’ way.” The only thing I can suggest is to do something extremely extra special with your niece and nephew-in-law to celebrate their new marriage. Something that is just for the three of you… Also, perhaps your niece and nephew-in-law would get all fancied up again in their wedding attire and allow you to wear a special outfit and get photos taken together. Ask your niece if you might have a flower from her bouquet. Hopefully, they will video the wedding so that you can watch it. Try to focus on your niece and her soon-to-be-husband.

Again, I am so, so sorry you are going through this. I send you so many hugs…

Jeanette Williams June 7, 2019 - 1:20 am

I love what you have written
I totally relate, I also can not have children.
I have jus recently gone thru a hysterectomy but have known a couple years that I can not have any because of fibroids that had took residence in my uterus so now I sit here and wonder why God refused me children but thank you for sharing

Brandi Lytle June 7, 2019 - 11:20 am

I’m so sorry you are struggling, Jeanette. Thank you for sharing your truth. I do hope you find comfort and encouragement here…

Venyse November 15, 2020 - 7:42 pm

I’m a 47 year old married Aunt with many nieces and nephews. I had a close relationship with the two that lived closed by, but now they’re grown and have pulled away living their own lives.
I’ve had a uterus full of fibroids since I was a teenager. I had them removed once so we could try IVF, but they grew back, and the procedure failed. My husband has 3 children with little ones of their own. They’ve told their children that their biological mother is their only grandmother. Because I strongly crave children with my husband, I am still praying for at least one child. I now think what would happen to me when I get old. God forbid if something happens to my husband before me.

Brandi Lytle November 16, 2020 - 12:20 pm

Venyse, thank you for bravely sharing your story. I’m so sorry you’ve struggled with fibroids and failed treatments. I’m also sorry your husband’s children have made hurtful comments, stating “their biological mother is their only grandmother.” What a shame to deny children the opportunity to form a close bond with another loving adult. Sending you loads of hugs…

Daniela January 15, 2019 - 2:30 pm

And as far as I’ve heard – the parents feel the growing pains, too, when their teenage kids find them embarassing or annoying or… So I guess, it’s a difficult phase for all affected – mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, aunt, uncle and the children themselves… But having a good foundation of happy childhood memories should help all to get through it. Up till now, I still have a very good relationship with my teenage niece and nephew – and the advantage of not having to deal with the daily quarrels like doing homework, cleaning their rooms, too loud music, doing chores, switching off the smart phone now and then… 😉

Brandi Lytle January 15, 2019 - 3:48 pm

Thank you for reminding me of the bright side of not having to deal with “the daily quarrels” and that we have built a solid foundation that will get us through these rocky times. You are right–the teenage years are difficult on everyone! This too shall pass… 😉

Lori Korzen December 10, 2018 - 7:12 pm

Your blog hit me hard! Like you, my nieces and nephews became my surrogate children and my husband and I cherished every moment with them and I know they are grateful. However, as I sit here I am preparing for my niece’s wedding this Saturday. I am all too aware of the fact that there is no real “Aunt of the Bride” title, no “Aunt and Nephew” Dance. I love them like they are my own but I will be nothing more than any other guest on their special day. I am gutted.

Brandi Lytle December 11, 2018 - 10:45 am

I am so sorry you are struggling, Lori. As my nieces and nephews get older, I think about special moments like weddings and often wonder what my role will be. At times, I feel that my place will diminish… When this happens, I try to remind myself that love does not diminish. And while there is no official “Aunt of the Bride” title, that is who I will be and so, I will embrace that role. I pray that you will find joy on your niece’s special day… Sending you loads and loads of hugs!

I also wrote a blog entitled, “The Power in Being a Childless Aunt.” If you’d like to read it, here’s the link –

Laura T. December 26, 2020 - 7:57 pm

I can TOTALLY relate to this. I am close to my nieces. I have thrown many bridal showers and spent a lot of time planning and prepping wedding day decorations. Then the day comes. And I am heartbroken. There I sit in the pew like everyone else.
ONCE I had a very special niece include me in all the day of fun. She invited me to the salon for hair and everything. I treasure these memories so much. It has never happened again. (Her marriage failed and she remarried. I wasn’t included this time around). I feel your pain… xoxo

Brandi Lytle December 28, 2020 - 1:28 pm

Laura, thank you for validating Lori’s feelings. I am so sorry that you have felt the pain of being left out. It is heartbreaking… I am grateful that you were included in “the day of fun” once, as we childless understand how important those moments and memories are. Sending you loads of hugs…

Different Shores January 31, 2018 - 6:10 am

I have this worry too. I have only one niece and she is nearly adult now and I don’t want to be ‘just the aunt’. I know the bond is nothing like daughter-mother, and I also live in a different country. I wish I was nearer. I comfort myself with the idea that the aunt relationship can be like the mother one but with all the psychological baggage taken out….
If we keep in touch (and ignore any lack of contact on their part; they’re young I guess) and treat them like special people, I think they’ll really appreciate it as adults. I have an aunt that I was once close to who more or less disappeared from view when she got her five grandchildren, saying to me things like ‘You have your husband, you’re fine’. It’s been really, really hurtful, but I suppose I know that will never happen with me and my niece

Brandi Lytle January 31, 2018 - 9:44 am

I’m so sorry that your aunt did not maintain the relationship. 🙁 You are right that we can make sure we never do that to our nieces and nephews.

And I really like the “with all the psychological baggage taken out!” 🙂

Erin October 14, 2019 - 9:01 am

Late to the party… I have pcos and have struggled with trying to concieve for 7 years now with my husband. I’m at my wits end and am considering throwing in the towel. My little sister (unmarried) just had a beautiful baby boy. Not Gonna lie… I was very hurt. I feel like God had decided to give everything I ever wanted to my little sister even though I am married and felt like I was doing everything right. That was a horrible thought on my part and a learning process for me. I have a niece and nephew on my husbands side of the family and they pretty much dont like me or my husband (they are 8 and 12 I believe) and we just aren’t close. So now I do what I can to be close to my sisters baby. He’s only going on 3 months and his smile makes my whole world brighter. I’m still praying to have my own one day though and praying for forgiveness at being judgemental at my moment of weakness.

Brandi Lytle October 14, 2019 - 11:07 am

First, I am so sorry for your infertility struggles. Despite the circumstances that brought you here, I am grateful that you are joining this conversation, trusting the Not So Mommy… community enough to share your story.

Please, do not be too hard on yourself about having human emotions when you found out your little sis was going to have a little. My response when I found out my little bro was having a kid before me… Well, I yelled, “No! It’s supposed to be MY turn!” To this day, I still wobble when I hear pregnancy announcements from friends and family. God understands.

I am glad that you are trying to develop a good relationship with your new nephew. My nieces and nephews truly helped as we battled infertility. And now, they are my kiddos as we navigate a childless life.

And if you do decide to “throw in the towel,” please know that life can be beautiful and joyful even when you don’t have a biological or adopted child. There is a vibrant childless community here, ready to love, support, and encourage you on this journey…


mindy January 14, 2018 - 8:31 pm

When you go to college – YES!!

Judy Odum January 13, 2018 - 10:01 am

I feel this is their age and they will never forget the wonderful memories. As a grandmother I often feel the same. Right now I am not as important to them as I was just because they are growing and maturing, even though they will not mature until about 25. Sometimes I am lucky to get a hug at all, but in the scheme of things I know they will never forget the many years of taking them individually for a fun day for just them. I also know they will never forget the wonderful times with you and Dane they have had for many years and are still having. They will come back, they just have to get through these a little bit selfish teenage years. I am sure I was the same at that age. Remember they will never forget!

Brandi Lytle January 13, 2018 - 11:51 am

Thank you, Judy! Your words made me both tear up and smile. I guess the teenage years cause growing pains for us all!

Sherry January 10, 2018 - 4:54 pm

Do you remember me talking about your 2 teachers in high school that were unmarried and childless? I commented on how happy and fulfilled they were in their situation. Even easy back then I wanted you to know there are so many different paths. You’re nieces and nephew will remember what you Jane taught them and they will hold your love close to their hearts — even if they don’t show it right now. It’s always going to be there.

Brandi Lytle January 10, 2018 - 5:01 pm

Thank you! I know they will. Sometimes, I just let doubt and fear creep in.

And yes, I think often of Profe & Mrs Bayouth. They were wonderful role models! 🙂


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