Building a large support system throughout your life ensures you’ll have someone to lean on when you require emotional support. As your life takes unexpected twists and turns, it’s comforting to know you can call someone close to you for support. And who better to depend on than your extended family?
Foster close relationships with your family by:
1. Consciously thinking about each of your family members. Imagine them in their home or at their job. Recall a joke they told you or something they said. Make thinking about your family relationships part of your everyday life.
2. Contact each family member you wish to stay connected to once monthly. Call your aunt. Text your cousin. Drop in for a visit with those family members who live close to you.
3. Invite family members to your house. Life gets busy and you may be barely getting through the week because of work and personal demands.
* But if you called your cousin and invited him and his wife to come for a barbecue on Saturday, you could have a relaxing time together.
4. Show an active interest in their lives. When you see your cousin at the store, ask him how his job is going. Does his son still play basketball and his daughter run track? Drop in to your cousin’s baseball game or bake sale to raise money for a cause they’re interested in.
5. Mention how much it means to you to still have involvement with them. Because it’s easy to lose track of extended family, make it a point to say how glad you are that you’ve kept in contact. Let them know they’re important to you.
6. Ask your aunt or uncle to have lunch with you. Maybe on Saturday or Sunday, you can schedule a lunch together to keep your connection going. Sitting across from someone, even for an hour, allows you enough time to learn about what’s going on in their life.
7. Offer to pitch in. When you hear a family member is moving, step in to help. Say you’d love to help pack boxes, load things in the truck, or unpack boxes at the new house.
* Giving support to each other is an important aspect of cultivating close, caring relationships among family members. Be the first to lend a helping hand.
8. Be the one to keep the address and phone number list for all the relatives up to date. Get e-mail addresses, if possible. Doing so enables you to easily reach several members at a time, if necessary.
* Also, ensure everyone stays in contact with one another by sharing the contact list.
9. Plan a summer family picnic. Regardless of how far apart you live, plan to have a picnic in the local park where everyone brings their family members and a dish or two to share.
* It doesn’t have to be a huge reunion. Simply invite everyone each year and be happy with whoever shows up. Use the time at the picnic to inquire about other family members and obtain and share cell phone numbers to expand your family network connections.
10. Make it easy for your kids to establish connections with aunts, uncles, cousins, and their kids. Take your cousin’s kids to play miniature golf with your kids once in a while.
* Or ask your aunt to babysit for your kids when you have to do errands on Saturday morning. You’ll likely enjoy time with each other’s kids and such relationships prove to ensure strong connections as life goes by.
Fostering connections with extended family takes time, patience, and planning. If you persevere, you’ll develop some of the most rewarding, dependable relationships of your life.