The Importance of Family Time

By Andrea K. Clark

I’m not sure how you and your family spent the Memorial Day holiday, but the kids and I were able to spend time with family who came to visit from out of town. My brother, his wife and their two young boys came home for the weekend. My oldest son is five and their oldest son is 3 ½ and the two little guys are 10 months and 5 ½ months, so the age difference is really about perfect. Everyone has a cousin close to the same age, giving them hours of fun play time together.

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As I sat watching the two older boys running around in the backyard together, it really struck me that family time is important. I know a lot of families don’t spend much time with their relatives due to distance and other issues, but it’s really a necessity (in my mind) for kids to grow up knowing who their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are.

I can remember when I was little, the anticipation I had every summer when my cousins from Alabama would come and visit for a week or two. While I was the oldest out of all my cousins on that side, I had a blast with my little cousin, Kristin, who was four years younger than me. And today, even though we live thousands of miles apart, we are still close.

This is the type of bond I want for my kids with their cousins. I know they may not get to see each other many times out of the year, but I definitely want them to still feel close as they get older. Below are a couple of the reasons that I believe family time is so important.

1. Builds life-long friendships. You know, when everything in life changes, family always stays the same. Kids can pick and choose their friends and who they marry, but they can’t pick their family. Therefore, cousins who grow up playing together generally go through life as friends. Having friends that you can always turn to, no matter the distance separating you, is something everyone needs and since cousins are usually our first friends, why not encourage those relationships with our kids?

2. Builds self-confidence. I am a firm believer that kids should feel the most comfortable and accepted when they are with their family. The world is tough enough the way it is and kids are being subjected to all kinds of peer pressures every day. While we can’t protect them from everything, they shouldn’t have to deal with this around their immediate family. I know that not all cousins get along, but the immediate family unit: mom, dad, brothers and sisters should be close enough where everyone feels accepted for who they are. If this is the way your family is, then your kids will build self-confidence through family time together!

There are plenty of opportunities throughout the year when we are able to spend additional time with our families. Whether you are planning a fun day at the local pool with your kids or are planning a big family barbeque with the entire family – cousins and all, family time is family time. There are so many benefits for building these relationships!

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