The Benefits Of Having Extended Family Nearby
Updated November 25, 2019
Reviewer Lauren Guilbeault
At times it may seem like having extended family nearby is more of a burden than a bonus. If you make a list of pros and cons, your pro list will end up being much longer than your con list. If you have ever lived in a place where your extended family is not close by, you will soon realize what a blessing it is to have them near you.
Benefit #1: Moral Support
No one knows you better than your family. If you have been through a traumatic event as a family, they will know exactly what you've gone through and will know exactly how you feel. Also, if you are going through a particularly joyous period, they will be there to celebrate with you. Either way, you will have their support in good times and in bad. Who wouldn't want their family around to get hugs from on sad days and to make a toast with on happy days?
Benefit #2: Child Care
Many people who have children cannot afford to stay home to care for them. Childcare can be very costly so it can take some work to find affordable, quality childcare. If you have extended family nearby, who don't work or are retired, many times they will jump at the chance to help with the care of their grandchildren, nieces, nephews or other family members. Many times this care will be free or maybe there some bartering that will go on. Either way, it will be a huge money saver.
Benefit #3: Monetary Support
It is said that borrowing money from a friend is a sure way to end that friendship. This may not always be true, but often it is more comfortable to borrow money from a family member than a friend. If you come into some money issues, extended families may be more than willing to loan you or gift you money if the need arises. Another type of monetary support may be living with an extended family member until enough money is saved for a rental or to buy a condo or house.
Benefit #4: Life Lessons
When children live near grandparents, they have a wonderful opportunity to learn life lessons by spending time with their older relatives. At times, children may not want to listen to the lessons and explanations that their parents share with them. At different life stages, children are trying to figure out their boundaries and their independence so parents may be the last ones they want to listen to. When they hear those lessons and explanations from their grandparents or older relatives, they may be more likely to listen. With age comes wisdom.
Benefit #5: Holiday Celebrations
There is nothing as uplifting as spending holidays with the family. This is where traditions and stories are handed down. It gives the holiday much more meaning when extended family surrounds you. Another benefit is that the holiday meals and parties can be rotated to the different homes each year so that the work is shared and the chores are divided.
Benefit #6: Living History
Older family members who have gone through different historical periods can share their first account knowledge of the event. Those who have fought wars, lived through the depression or other significant time in history are walking history books. These stories and first accounts are the best knowledge that the younger family members can be exposed to. It can also bring new respect and honor to these family members when the younger members realize what exactly they have been through to get to that point in life.
Benefit #7: Medical Background
With so many diseases and medical conditions being genetic, it is of the utmost importance to know the medical history of your extended family. This can a to help with a proactive approach to avoiding disease or other medical conditions. If a medical concern does arise, the root of the issue can be found through studying medical histories or by talking directly to the extended family member. If a certain disease is prevalent in a family, steps can be taken before any signs of that issue even present themselves. It can make for a healthier future for the younger family members.
Benefit #8: Confidant
Sometimes it is hard to find someone who you truly trust with your thoughts, ideas, worries, etc. There is nothing like a trusted and loved family member to share these thoughts with. If someone may be feeling some mental health type concerns, they may talk to a trusted family member and find out that that family member or maybe another relative went through the same thing. There is nothing like talking to someone who has gone through some similar to make you feel better. Families are also protective and should be private with family issues.
Benefit #9: Unconditional Love
It is an unwritten rule that your family will love you unconditionally. Sure, problems arise, and fights occur, but when everything clears away…family is there. The family is the place where you should feel safest and where you should be willing to take risks because their love with always is there. If you venture out and things don't work out, the family will be there to welcome you back with open arms. Don't take them for granted.
Benefit #10: Share Stories
One of the greatest, warmest feelings is getting together with family to recount stories and events that have happened. It could be stories of those who are no longer with you or the members who are present. You may tell those stories and laugh until you cry. With these stories, departed family members can always be with you because those memories will stay with you forever. Some family members may have different memories of events or may remember a situation that others have forgotten. It is always a warm, sense of belonging, a nostalgic time when extended families get together to remember and to make new memories.
Benefit #11: Share Talents
Certain family members may have talents that they want others to learn and pass down, especially if the talent is something that not many people showcase or that is very specific to the family's culture. Having extended family nearby is a great way to showcase, share and keep the talent moving down the family line.
If there is a cultural dance or type of cooking that is highlighted in a family, it can be shared and carried on. If there is a special creative hobby or artistic talent, it can also be shared and carried on. Sometimes these talents have a genetic component and when shared make the younger family member shine within the family and community.
Books About Extended Family
This isn't to say that every extended family functions exactly as stated above. Issues come up. Arguments happen. It is how those problems are dealt with that make the family stronger and happier. Some of the books listed below may help strengthen your extended family bond.
*How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber
*It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World's Family Tree, by AJ Jacobs
*Reluctantly Related Revisited: Breaking Free of the Mother-in-Law/Daughter-in-Law Conflict, by Deanna Brann
*Genealogy Basics in 30 Minutes: The quick guide to creating a family tree, building connections with relatives, and discovering the stories of your ancestors, by Shannon Combs-Bennett
*In-Law Relationships: The Chapman Guide to Becoming Friends with Your In-Laws, by Gary Chapman
*The Grandfamily Guidebook: Wisdom and Support for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, by Andrew Adesman and Christine Adamec
*Positive Family Dynamics: Appreciative Inquiry Questions to Bring Out the Best in Families, by Dawn Cooperider Dole and Jen Hetzel Silbert
If you have been through any traumatic family events that you feel are negatively affecting your life, you should contact a trained professional to assist you. Going to Regain (https://www.regain.us/start/) can be your first step to getting the help you need. It is private, convenient and will be one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your wellness. Do the thing today that your future self will thank you for.