Family Relationships: How to Strengthen Bonds with Extended Family


Relationships—I come from a big family, lots of cousins and in-laws. My family members are by far my biggest support system and best friends. I absolutely love doing things with them and, even growing up, I would often choose doing something with my family over going out with my group of friends. I find it strange when someone says they just met their aunt or that they don’t know the names of their cousins. I would be nowhere without my family and can’t imagine life without the bond we have.

Family with Grandma and Grandpa

I often ask myself why we’re so close and why we have so much interest in each other's lives when our ages and interests differ in so many ways. I came up with three interlinked reasons for why we are so close and ways you can strengthen your extended family relationships as well.

How to Strengthen Relationships with Extended Family

  • Make time for quality time. Our family does this through annual family reunions. It is a great time to catch up all together and see those who live far away. Though we see each other throughout the year as well, it is important to have a time when everyone can be together at once, rather than just a few people here and there. Every family, no matter how large or small, should have a family reunion. If that means you plan and organize it, so be it. Don’t limit your quality time to the yearly reunion though, get together for other events where the kids can play and the parents can share their latest parenting ventures.
  • Initiate and continue passed-on traditions. I love traditions! Our family is built on them. I could list off hundreds of traditions our family shares. Some include watching our grandparent’s city parade with KFC, another is ringing colorful musical bells at every family function while grandma leads the music. Traditions are something that everyone can have in common and look forward to. Cherish heritage traditions as well, so even when you’re in your individual families, you still feel that sense of belonging to something bigger.
  • My last tip is to support, support, support. In my large family, there is never a time when there isn’t a wedding or baby shower on the calendar. For every event, everyone in the family makes the effort and the trek, if possible, to show their support. Support can show a lot of love and love is what brings us all together. Go to see Aunt Linda in the hospital, cheer on Brock’s football game, let Sierra wash your car for her school fundraiser, read grandma her favorite book, initiate Ian into the family, go to the reunion Uncle Rick is hosting ... you get the idea. Show you care about your family members and encourage what they choose to do.

If your family is inching apart, don’t let it! Be the one to hold it together. If your family is close, become closer. There is always room for more love and bonding. You should be able to rely on your family and they should be able to rely on you, too. Take every opportunity to grow closer to one another and never let that love slip.

Are you close with your family? What are some ways you strengthen your relationship with each other?

Feature image courtesy of Flickr.

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Cambria VandeMerwe

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