When I was growing up I was always jealous of my friends who had cousins living near them.
It was like they had a ready-made gang or club that no one else could join. They may have spent a little or a lot of time together but the bond was there, in blood.
I didn’t have that. My only cousins lived interstate and were much older than me. I didn’t know them well and even as an adult do not have any connection with them.
Fast forward a few decades to my kids who only have 2 cousins they know.
While they don’t get to see each other as often as any of us would like, it is lovely to see them play together when they do. Five kids who have known each other since birth, who share genes and even similar traits. I especially see a lot of my niece in my daughter, despite the five year age gap.
It has been wonderful watching them all grow, together and separately. It’s made me realise that my sense of loss when I was younger was totally justified.
Because there are some really great things about having cousins, such as:
1. Cousins are the siblings you never had– until my daughter came along, my niece was the only girl and often felt left out by the boys. Now it is so lovely to see the girls play together, just as they would if they were sisters.
2. Cousins can challenge you in a safe way – one of my sons is quite cautious, while his cousin of the same age is fearless. Seeing his cousin do things often brings out the competitive edge in my boy and pushes him to take more chances. I know this wouldn’t be the case if he was with a stranger or a group of friends where he felt more insecure. This is a great way to build confidence and resilience.
3. Cousins broaden your horizons – just as they can challenge you, they can teach and show you new things. Chances are, cousins will have different interests, hobbies and sporting pursuits, so when they all get together it can be a melting pot of ideas and inspiration. Often my kids will discover new trends and crazes thanks to their cousins.
4. Cousins give you someone to hang with at family gatherings – adults have a tendency to sit around and talk a lot, which is rather boring when you are a kid. My kids love it when their cousins come to family gatherings so they can run amok together. They often get away with more as a group too!
5. Cousins give you a sense of familial connection – having extended family of any kind is a valuable way to give kids a sense of who they are and where they come from, but cousins give that in a shared generational context. They share grandparents, family traditions and I’m sure, when they are older, they will even share family secrets!