Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Importance of Extended Family!






Childhood is a precious time to make lasting memories.  Parents, it is truly a gift when you share your children with others.  Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and Grandparents all can expand your children's life experiences and teach them valuable lessons about getting along with others and looking at things differently.

We recently had the honor of having my soon to be fourth grade niece accompany us on a weekend getaway.  She was such a wonderful guest, and we enjoyed that special time when we got her all to our selves.  By coming a long with us, she got to be in the spotlight, away from her talkative, older  brother...and we got to focus on her.  While we were playing in the pool one lovely afternoon, a large loud, Italian family complete with cousins and grandparents, aunts and uncles came to swim.  It was a joy to watch them playing and laughing and enjoying their time together.  It made me reflect on how these extended family times are so important to the development of your children.

Family time reinforces family ties.  If you don't emphasize the importance of family when your children are young, they will most likely not look to connecting with extended family members when they are grown.  This is such a missed opportunity.  Family relationships model love.  Family members are truly the people that you can count on for support in the difficult times of your life, and we all have difficult times.  Relationships with grandparents offer your children a chance to experience unconditional love and acceptance. And although all of these relationships have their trials, they teach your children about life.  Life has trials.  We don't always see eye to eye.  That is okay.  We can still love each other even if we look at things differently.  These are valuable lessons.

I know not all family relationships are healthy and positive ones.  But sometimes it truly is petty differences that separate us from one another rather than serious issues.  Do some reflecting on the relationships you have with your extended family members.  Are you too judgmental and stubborn about small things to allow these relationships to work?  Maybe come at a troubled relationships with less defensiveness and take baby steps to restore it.  Think of the value of the relationship from your children's perspective.  Could you be the catalyst for mending a broken relationship that you all could benefit and grow from?  If so, take the first step.  Reach out with a phone call or note.  Set up a short visit.  Remember that these relationships are not just about you, but about your children and the future relationships that can truly mean a great deal in the years to come.  Life is too short to ignore your family relationships.  When things are messy and difficult, be the bigger person and do what you can to make amends.  Nothing is more important than family.

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