The Forgotten Kin: Aunts and Uncles

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9780521516761: The Forgotten Kin: Aunts and Uncles

Although much is written about contemporary families, the focus is typically limited to marriage and parenting. In this path-breaking assessment of families sociologist Robert M. Milardo demonstrates how aunts and uncles contribute to the daily lives of parents and their children. Aunts and uncles complement the work of parents, sometimes act as second parents, and sometimes form entirely unique brands of intimacy grounded in a lifetime of shared experiences. The Forgotten Kin explores how aunts and uncles support parents, buffer the relationships of parents and children, act as family historians, and develop lifelong friendships with parents and their children. The book details the routine activities of aunts and uncles, the features of families that encourage closeness, how aunts and uncles go about mentoring nieces and nephews, and how adults are mentored by the very children for whom they are responsible. This book aims to change the public discourse on families and the involvement of the forgotten kin across generations and households.

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Book Description:

“Robert Milardo has produced an excellent empirically based and theoretically informed study of the significance of aunts and uncles in contemporary family networks. He shows how these relationships, largely ignored in the research literature, can be highly influential in shaping personal development and family process. This book makes a very welcome contribution to our knowledge.”
– Graham Allan, Keele University

“This book is a landmark publication in family studies because its focus moves beyond the nuclear family unit. I predict that the concepts of aunting and uncling will gain prominence in the literature. Milardo has a clear and at times humorous writing style. I enjoyed reading the book very much. It is a thoughtful and original exposé of the way in which the family work of aunts and uncles both supplements and complements parents.”
– Pearl A. Dykstra, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

“Long overdue, The Forgotten Kin, is a compelling read that draws attention to the important role that aunts and uncles play in our everyday lives and, in so doing, demonstrates how these relationships previously treated as peripheral are truly central. Beautifully written and eloquently expressed, Robert Milardo parses themes of support, intergenerational buffering, mentoring, friendship, and family history-keeping from the rich personal stories of over one hundred aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Milardo’s thoughtful qualitative analysis provides a first look at the all too often invisible contributions that aunts and uncles make to family life. This milestone book will do nothing less than transform the way we view families and provides a bold new agenda for family scholars.”
– Heather Helms, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

“This book is a treat. Milardo draws on rich, probing, multi-faceted interviews to show us yet another way that family members break out of their nuclear boundaries. Aunts and uncles and their nieces and nephews move in and out of each others lives in both mundane and surprising ways, which Milardo documents with humor, clarity, and thoroughness. In the process, we get a new appreciation of generativity and a deeper understanding of the reciprocal benefits that flow out of these relationships.”
– Stephen Marks, The University of Maine

"Draws on interview and other data in a study of the role of aunts and uncles in family networks..."
--The Chronicle of Higher Education

"....intriguing.... The volume is well written and engaging. It will remain a key treatise on this topic, long after other scholars have turned attention to this focus.... Milardo presents an interesting and impressive examination of the relationships between aunts and uncles and their nieces and nephews. The book breaks away from the constrained view of the isolated nuclear family and moves us toward a more complete understanding of family relationships.... His work draws attention to these previously neglected familial relationships and paves the way for further consideration of aunts and uncles in future research."
--Megan Gilligan and Karen L. Fingerman, Purdue University, Journal of Marriage and Family

"....The Forgotten Kin offers much to social scientists, educators, social workers, policymakers. With its basis in family histories, in the interweaving of personal and collective stories of past and present and hopes for the future, this book also points to a number of provocative themes and issues for family historians to pursue. It has certainly inspired this one to pay closer attention to how kinship operates both within families and outside them, as an essential part of the daily lives of ordinary people in the past."
--Cynthia Comacchio, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada, Journal of Family History

"....Bob Milardo has written what is the most thorough, comprehensive family studies analysis to date of the relationships between aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. He has richly described ANUN relations and answered key, basic questions about them. He is a scholar with a deep knowledge of research on the family yet his text will be enjoyed by a broad audience. He is trailblazer whose book widens and extends the path into ANUN relations. I recommend it for its depiction of those relations and for the possibility that you will be among those who further develop scholarship on this topic."
--Dan Perlman, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, IARR’s “Relationship News”

Book Description:

In this assessment of families, sociologist Robert M. Milardo demonstrates how aunts and uncles contribute to the daily lives of parents and their children. The Forgotten Kin aims to change the public discourse on families and renew an appreciation for the fundamentals of family ensembles and personal intimacies grounded in multiple relationships.

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Milardo PhD, Robert M.
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