The term ‘family’ goes beyond the parents and immediate family to include all other relatives such as grandparents, siblings, uncles and aunts, etc. Each relative can contribute a lot to the development of a child through a different relationship with him or her. The extended family is like a web structured in a way to offer the best support network to each other and become a centre for trust, safety, growth, and love across generations. It is also a way to maintain tradition and promote respect for inheritance. It is also within a family that the child will establish and cultivate their first relationships with others. Therefore this section of our website is dedicated to the extended family.
If your children are siblings: to reduce their rivalry and help them build strong connection watch this video.
While the child may look upon his adult relatives as figures of respect and as a symbol of authority, they will look at their siblings as their equal and therefore the impact of a sibling on a child’s development is different from that of any other relative.
Siblings promote the child’s own social skills in the world through playing, sharing experiences and enhancing each others understanding of points of view, and even fighting. Whereas parents are there principally to teach and form the child, the sibling is there to experiment life alongside them and therefore learn together about the informal behaviours that also govern everyday living and social interactions. This is particularly evident in children with an older sibling since they are more likely to mimic their behaviour.
Depending on how close they are to each other, they can share and learn from each other’s experiences, but note that just as they can learn to avoid doing certain things it is also very easy for risky habits and behaviours to be encouraged between them. Therefore it is very important to foster a strong healthy relationship between siblings based on respect, cooperation, love, and mutual support, which will last a lifetime – and potentially longer than with any other relative.
Allowing grandparents to be involved in a child’s life is not only significant for the child but for the grandparent as well. For the grandparent it is a pleasure to be with a new generation of the family, to partake in the raising of a child in a new time, and to enjoy it all without the responsibilities of a parent. This however does not mean that they do not contribute with the overall education and raising of the child. It may also be a second chance for them to approach their grandchildren in a way they wish they had done with their own children. In some cases grandparents have even had to bring up their grandchildren due to some circumstance and so they have come to take the role of being a parent again. This is something they do out of pure love for their own kin, but that requires a lot of effort and responsibility once again.
For most children, the relationship with their grandparents is one of the most significant ones within the extended family. A grandparent’s wisdom through all of his life experience is something to be appreciated whenever it is shared. As a matter of fact, in some cultures, the elderly are treated with the upmost respect. They are seen as the wisest family members and responsible for passing on and maintaining the cultural heritage and traditions. Unfortunately, in western societies there is a growing tendency to underestimate the value of what the elderly can contribute to the young generations and vice versa. The joy in the encounter of the old generation with the new is not to be overlooked.
The video on the right proves that some children love their grandparents and have a connection with them. Children from different age groups speak about their grandparents and memories they have created so far with them. In detail, they share what they like doing with them and why they are important to them. Activities include: painting, going to the zoo, speaking about history etc. At the end of the video, based on their experience, the children also say what advice they would give to people who will be soon grandparents .