The attachments some enjoy with individuals outside the family circle are enough to carry them through life. Classmates and workmates become close friends and figurative family. There is a tendency to be closer to “strangers,” than our own blood. Families rarely live in the same city, thus family dinners are no more, and annual reunions are a thing of the past. With the influx of people relocating to different parts of the country, and the passing of older ones, who were the nucleus of some families, many realize that family closeness is fading. We drift apart from that special cousin, and daily calls to grandparents become weekly chores.
The relationship with our extended family should be stronger than our relationship with friends. People will forever come into, and leave our lives. Graduations, relocations, and employment changes may gradually erect a wall between friends. When feeling disconnected from close friends, it would be nice to rely on a cousin or aunt. Who are your second cousins? How many great aunts and uncles do you have? What are their children’s names? Many hope for a better relationship with their extended family, they just do not know how to achieve it.
Those who have hardly any dealings with their family can begin by jotting down names of relatives that live in their hometown. Be determined to call each person on that list and let them know you were thinking about them. Be honest. Make them aware that you hope to become better acquainted with their family. If a milestone was recently celebrated such as an anniversary or a child’s graduation, use the occasion as a conversation starter. Plan to visit the relative, or invite their family over for a cook-out.
Family reunions afford the perfect opportunity for becoming re-acquainted with family. Reunions must be planned at least a year in advance. Families who live in the same area may be able to arrange a reunion in a shorter amount of time since travel is not required. There is a tendency to only socialize with those in our comfort zone. Thus, reunions should consist of activities that will encourage the family to intermingle. Teenagers and adults could be placed in small random groups. The object is for relatives to introduce themselves. There should also be activities planned for children. This is a great way for them to know their little cousins. Apart from reunions, parents may also help young children by showing them pictures of their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Play a guessing game where the child tries to correctly name each individual.
Establishing a better relationship with extended family members does not require a great deal of energy. Little thing we do can leave a lasting impression. Sending a relative an anniversary or greeting card is a perfect way to stay connected. The relative receiving the greeting will call to show their appreciation. Attending the wedding, graduation, or baby shower of a distant relative is another endearing way to re-open the doors of communication.