Categories
cousins

Family Fusion

Extended families have two great strengths. The first is resilience. An extended family is one or more families in a supporting web. Your spouse and children come first, but there are also cousins, in-laws, grandparents—a complex web of relationships among, say, seven, 10, or 20 people. If a mother dies, siblings, uncles, aunts, and grandparents are there to step in. If a relationship between a father and a child ruptures, others can fill the breach. Extended families have more people to share the unexpected burdens—when a kid gets sick in the middle of the day or when an adult unexpectedly loses a job.

The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake. David Brooks @ the Atlantic

I love that Fleur gets to play with her cousin. But, I love that our families are close more. It isn’t just seeing each other on holidays.

When my brother and sister-in-law needed help a couple times in recent times, we stepped up to help them. Should we have a similar need, they would be the first we would turn to for help.

I would love that the family base were larger, but this parenting thing is rough. Having help is important.

Categories
Parenting Social Development

Cousins

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.