Earlier this Spring, I took Benedict to my aunt's house for a play date. My aunt lives about 90 minutes away from us and three of her four children were home at the time. My cousins range in age from 16 to 23 and I've always been close to them. Benedict had an absolute ball stalking their cat, watching their dogs, exploring a new house, and playing with his cousins. The day was great for me too, and it was a great reminder to make time to play and have fun with your extended family.
Benedict has a cousin who is just two-months older than him and another cousin who was born earlier this year. Sadly, he's only met the older one once, though hopefully soon that will change. Knowing how much fun I had growing up with my cousins, I hope that Benedict will get to have the same experience as he grows. I want him to feel connected with his cousins as they go through the stages of life together at the same time.
Family bonds are incredibly important. Families rely on one another in every sense of the word. While they may not live in close proximity, there's usually a time or two each year where they get together. Cousins can be the siblings that your children never had. Consider Benedict and his cousin. Since Benedict and his cousin are the same age, they’ll get to share the same joys of life at the same time. They'll both get their driver's licenses around the same time, graduate and go off to college at the same time, and maybe even end up getting married around the same time. Sharing all of these great milestones is usually a special experience reserved for twins, but in this case, they'll get to share them as cousins.
Cousins can often make great friends. Sharing a common family tree isn't the only thing that binds cousins together. In fact, cousins who are close in age often share many of the same interests, which change and mature over time. Those shared interests can help solidify the friendship that goes beyond the generational relationship. As your children grow into adulthood, I hope that they'll stay close to their cousins. It may not be a 100% success rate, but the bonds forged in childhood will hopefully blossom into lifelong friendships. Not only is this a beautiful legacy for your kids, but the journey will continue as their children grow up together.
Family is the basic support structure that any of us have. I hope that you'll do all you can to ensure that your kids have the opportunity to connect and bond with their cousins so that they can have friends that will truly last a lifetime.