Whether related by biology, marriage, circumstance, or choice, aunts embody a uniquely flexible familial role. The aunt-niece/nephew relationshipathough often overlookedais critical and complex, one that appears at the core of a resilient, healthy family life. In this engaging book, Laura Ellingson and Patricia Sotirin construct a consideration of "aunts" that moves from noun to verb. "Aunts" is more than a group of people or a role; instead, "to aunt" is a practice, something people "do." Some women "aunt" as second mothers, friends, or mentors, while others play more peripheral roles. In either case, aunts nonetheless significantly impact their nieces and nephews' life choices. Drawing on personal narratives that represent a rich cross section of society, Ellingson and Sotirin construct a cohesive story of the diversity of aunting experiences in the contemporary United States. Skillfully written, Aunting recovers the enormous potential of this dynamic kinship relationship and offers a model for understanding and supporting the variety of families in society today.
Laura L. Ellingson is Professor of Communication and Women's and Gender Studies at Santa Clara University. She lives in San Jose, California. Patricia J. Sotirin is Professor of Communication at Michigan Technological University. She lives in the Houghton, Michigan, area.
Preface Introduction: Why Aunts? 1: Caring for Kin 2: Constructing Kin 3: Aunts at a Distance 4: My Auntie, My Self 5: Mentoring and Modeling 6: Carrying on the Family Conclusion: Aunting in the Twenty-First Century