DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a young nephew and niece, ages 3 and 1. When the first child was born, I asked my sister for her children to call me according to the language customs for "aunt" in our heritage language. While we were born and raised in the United States, we grew up referring to our aunts and uncles this way, and I would like to continue the tradition.
She has refused this request, calling me by a different name in front of her children. At this point, her kids are either not yet speaking, or too young to pronounce anything correctly anyway.
However, I know that her children will come to know me by the name she uses. Not only that, but any future nieces and nephews from other siblings will likely refer to me the same way as their cousins.
I love my niece and nephew, and my siblings, but feel it is disrespectful to not respect my request. Do I have a say in what my nieces and nephews call me?
GENTLE READER: Probably not. But not for the reasons that you suppose.
Miss Manners finds it sweetly naive that you assume that the children will do whatever their mother tells them. In the interest of preserving family harmony, it might be wise to ask your sister gently why the children aren't calling you by your preferred title. If it is on purpose or just an oversight, at least you will know with what you are up against and can act accordingly.
If you deem your sister unreasonable, later, as you begin forging your own relationship with your nieces and nephews, you may choose to drive her crazy by conspiratorially asking them to call you by the title you prefer. Children do so love secrets -- and doing the opposite of what their mothers tell them.