My cousins were geographically disparate. I had quite a few of them. They came to visit during Christmas or during the summer. We played together during these periods, often getting into trouble over our misdeeds. Or getting heated while playing video games. Being an only child for about half my childhood, my cousins were my “siblings.” They were who I thought of as family my age. In middle school, one family of cousins lived in town for a short while, which was amazeballs. (Yes, that is a technical term.) They came back to permanently stay in high school.
Researchers found that individuals responded they were far more likely to help kin, including cousins, before they would help out friends. This remained true even when the researchers controlled for emotional closeness, suggesting that even if there was not a close emotional bond with the family member. the likelihood of offering help was still high. They called this a “kinship premium.”
We get to choose our friends, but we are stuck with family. I consider myself lucky to have a good family. If anyone considers me intelligent, then I point to aunts and cousins and brother and parents who routinely destroy me at board games requiring advanced thinking. My ability to speak on any subject came from having to hold my own at after dinner conversations. (At some point it was more important to win a debate than win Mario Kart.)
My family is also pretty politically diverse, which helped see and understand different sides. And my practices of ingesting information came from wanting to hold my own in such discussions.