Your Cousins, Friends and “Second Siblings”
Your cousins represent a unique family bond; these close relatives or “second siblings” enrich your childhood and teenage years.
The psychological and social environment of the close bonds you form with cousins is similar to that of your parents and siblings.
Cousins are those unique friends who, in addition to sharing a paternal or maternal last name, you’ve shared a thousand adventures with, and created a thousand memories, and formed key pieces of each other’s maturity.
We invite you to look a little more closely at this valuable relationship that’s worth caring for today, and in turn encourage your children to strengthen those family bonds.
Your cousins, those exceptional second siblings
Something interesting that anthropologists have told us is that not all cultures place equal value on family in daily life. There are some countries where friendly familial contact is limited to phone calls and get togethers once every month or so.
But in other cultures, it’s not uncommon to see daily or regular contact, and several generations may even live together, either to care for the elderly, out of economic necessity, or just simple reciprocity.
Many people grow up with their cousins just a step from their home, with grandparents nearby to pick you up when your parents can’t because they’re at work.
Growing up with this regular daily contact that’s loaded with habitual acts of affection and respect is a deeply rooted value in certain cultures, from which everyone can benefit – whether they’re big or small.
Let’s see what your cousins can do for your childhood, and what role they play once you’re grown up.
A way to socialize outside the immediate family
When a child comes into the world, their first circle of interaction is with their parents and siblings. Long before you begin to build friendships with your peers, you will have social contact with your cousins that can be very beneficial.
- The quality of a relationship between cousins can be determined by a positive relationship between siblings. If you don’t have this affection link, it won’t likely appear outside the immediate family.
- In fact, it’s not uncommon for many people to not even know some of their cousins because their parents stopped having a relationship with their siblings at some point.
- If the contact is positive and often, on the other hand, a child will find reward in that special friendship, and this emotional component will create a lasting impression.
Your cousins are those second siblings with whom you can learn more about your grandparents, enjoy holiday and weekend adventures, get lost, discover, argue, laugh, and create that “cognitive reserve” that helps you all grow inside.
Your cousins, friends for life
Something that everyone knows is that you may not get along with every single one of your cousins from your mother and father’s side.
- You’ll connect more with the ones whose values fit your own, and whose personality traits give you support and joy when you need it the most. These are the ones who have been with you since childhood and enter into maturity alongside you.
- Another common thing that can occur is that there are some people who maintain a better relationship with their cousins than with their own brothers and sisters.
- These are normal interactions that shouldn’t worry you too much.
- Family obligations shouldn’t force you to pretend to feel something you don’t; you need to always follow the voice of your heart and your conscience, while always being respectful.
- A cousin can be better than a friend – they can be a soulmate, a person you will count on until the last day of your life.
Foster good relationships between your children and their cousins
If you still have a good relationship with your siblings and your partner’s family, don’t hesitate to encourage gatherings that adults will enjoy and also allow the younger members of the families to get to spend time together.
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- Don’t forget that children, especially in the first six years of their lives, are at an exceptional moment when every event counts.
- If you promote games, adventures, afternoon snacks, laughter, pranks, and songs between cousins, you’re not only giving them happy times, but also wonderful memories that will help them grow up with joy and feeling loved.
Allow your children to have the same positive relationship with their cousins that you had with yours.