I have three sons and they are a lot of fun. They are also a lot of noise, mess and busyness.
They adore one another most of the time and loathe one another at other times. Needless to say, living in a small house can get a little hectic and the fact that we live a car trip away from most of the boys’ friends—and I don’t always want to drive to fetch or deliver children—means that, from time to time, my boys can have a little too much of one another.
We are one small family and that can make us all tiresome to one another – no matter how strong the love between us.
The healthiness of living in an isolated, nuclear family unit has always bothered me a little. Not that living with my extended family or my in-laws would suit me, or them I suspect, either. But the cousins. Oh my goodness. The wonder of having cousins around – that appeals to me.
With cousins there is the common bond of grandparents and other family members, and the common history and the common family rituals. There is the emotional connection of knowing they all belong together, and the emotional connection of having been all together for their life times.
But, what I really love is the bond I see between our boys and all of their cousins in terms of visible affection and loyalty. When we have been away on holiday together, older cousins have often taken our boys off for adventures or have played with them, especially as babies and toddlers, so I could have a break. Younger cousins provide opportunities for my older boys to teach and help, in their turn. Sometimes it’s just fun to hang out together.
With their cousins, my boys are learning that things their brothers have said to them repeatedly, and they have ignored, are often the same opinions of others – and their cousins are not afraid to tell them so, sometimes bluntly. They are learning a higher level of co-operative skills and greater negotiation techniques, than they get to use with just two others. They are learning to walk away, when they need to walk away, and they are learning when it is appropriate to comment on another’s behaviour and when it is best to stay silent.
Like their brothers, their cousins love them. Unlike their brothers, their cousins are listened to. Like their friends, their cousins enjoy playing with them and will tell them to go away, when they‘ve had enough – but only for a short while. Unlike their friends, they cannot be transient members of their lives. And that last point, in particular, I love.
Do your children have good relationships with their cousins? Do you see a deeper bond between your children and their cousins, than with their friends?
Sadly my children haven’t had much opportunity to interact with their cousins because my sister and her kids live in Italy and my sister-in-law and her kids live in the UK!
My husband and I have also not had much chance to interact with our cousins since we were small (and we emigrated to SA from Italy), but the bond remains strong – even if we hardly ever get to see each other.
I sincerely hope that my son and daughter continue to live in the same city so that (one day) their kids will be able to grow up together and I’ll get to have my grandkids close to me!
Yes! For me, I grew up with 4 siblings and 1 cousin, and my cousin is like my brother. For my kids they have many, many cousins, but they all live far away from each other, so they only really all get together once per year. But oh the joy…the bonding…the easy comfort they slide back into. Then they talk about the next visit all year long. Love cousins!!!
You are so right on all those points Karyn! I grew up around cousins so I kept saying “yes, yes, yes” as I read your post 🙂
Sadly, all of my daughters cousins are on the U.S. east coast (and we live on the west coast). I do wish we all lived closer so that they could have the same experiences growing up close to cousins like I did, but as Tara mentions, they slide right into bonding mode when they are close together – and what joy it brings!
I have two girls and my brother has three.
My oldest has never been that interested in them, they are a lot younger than her … but she improved this Summer in Europe with them … found more tolerance 😉
But my youngest is joined at the hip with them – love watching them all, they pick up right where they leave off.
It is awesome.
Being closer to their cousins is one of the reasons we made a move back up to New Jersey. My girls’ older cousins have served as older friends and babysitters to them. They can also see the world that is to come from watching their cousins grow ahead of them.
I love where you say, “Unlike their friends, they cannot be transient members of their lives. And that last point, in particular, I love.”
Totally agree that the cousin bond is unique. You put it so well here.
I longed to hang out with my cousins when I was a child, but distance kept us apart except for a few magical times. Seems to be the same problem for my kids as well.