10 reasons growing up with cousins is so valuable for your kids

There’s something really cool about watching my children play with my sister’s children. And there’s something so incredibly heartwarming about hearing my daughter proudly say that her big cousins are her “bruthas” (as she pronounces it.)

I mean—I am watching my daughters play with my niece and nephews the same way their mother (my sister) and I played together when we were little. It’s trippy.

Our kids are growing up together as cousins, but sometimes it actually seems like they’re more like siblings.

They bicker, they fight, they tattletale. They hug, they make up, they protect each other.

Related: I love seeing my child develop personal relationships with family members

I feel really lucky to be raising my kids alongside my sister, who is also one of my best friends. And I feel humbled to watch the relationships our children have formed grow and change and develop over the years. I hope these cousins always stay close for many reasons.

10 reasons why cousins are a true gift:

1. Because they are each other’s first best friends

Sure, if you have siblings, they are too—but cousins are like siblings that don’t annoy you as much. My children and their cousins have been friends since the second they were born. The new cousins coming into the family will be the same way—these new “rat pack” members (as we call them) will be inducted into the club the second they are here.

It makes me laugh to think of all the funny childhood memories and stories they will share for years to come—you don’t get that with just any friend.

2. They protect one another

These guys can fight and argue with the best of ’em. They have cousin rivalry. They like to tease each other and steal the specific toy the other one is playing with. But they protect and defend each other when necessary. It’s so comforting to see these moments of protection to balance out those moments of bickering.

I know they’ll always have each other’s backs—forever.

Related: Living close to my sister made such a huge difference when I became a mom

3. They “get” it

They’re from the same family—they “get” where they come from. When they’re older they’ll be able to laugh and joke about the specific dysfunctional aspects of our family and hey that doesn’t bother me. It’s nice to know they’ll have someone to confide in.

They’re friends who they can share family celebrations with—like when someone gets married or has a new baby. They have the same grandparents to spend time with together.

They’re making lifelong memories with each other all the time.

4. They will always have people to hang out with at family functions

At the holidays, and on family vacations. When they get tired of hanging with their siblings, there will always be another option. And if they have lots of cousins, then they’ll have lots of options!

And let’s not forget how helpful this is for the parents too. When the kiddos can entertain each other, then the moms and dads can get some much-needed (and deserved) relaxation time. Cheers!

Related: Kids need to play together outside—here’s how to do it safely

5. They love each other unconditionally

They’re blood—their bond is strong and unbreakable. They may get into little tiffs here and there, but the love they share runs deep. My kids live less than ten minutes right now from their only cousins, but there will be more cousins to come. Cousins who live hours and hours away. But they will love each other all the same because they’re family. And family is everything.

And even when they grow up, if they drift apart—there will always be an understanding that they would do anything for one another.

6. They’ll always have people to vent to about their parents

Let’s face it: our kids are going to complain about how annoying and crazy we are one day. They’ll vent to their siblings, but chances are they’ll vent to their cousins too. Sure this may make me feel a little silly, but it also makes me happy to know they’ll always have someone to reach out to that will understand where they are coming from.

Related: 8 simple ways to bond with each of your children individually

7. It’s easier to make plans with them

My siblings have seen me at my best and my absolute worst. My sister and I know what we’re getting into with each other when we make plans. If we are running late (me, usually) or have to cancel—we understand without judgement or resentment or any bad feelings. It just is what it is and we totally get that. If I show up in sweatpants and greasy hair, she doesn’t think twice—and neither do I. If we just need somewhere to go, we always know we can go to Aunt Meg’s for some entertainment.

The point is—our kids always have someone to easily play with. It’s great for them, and great for us.

8. Sleepovers are easier

Your parents won’t be as nervous to send you on a sleepover to your cousin’s house. I remember all the sleepovers I had with my cousin growing up. All the conspiring during family get-togethers—Whose house should we stay at? Do you think your mom will say yes? When should we ask them? Our kids haven’t had sleepovers yet, but it makes me smile just thinking of them doing this too.

9. You share cool hand-me-downs

My daughters have gotten some awesome hand-me-downs from their big cousins—which is exciting for them and really helpful for me. And my daughter’s cousins-to-come will get their hand-me-downs too. If you need something, someone usually has it! And eventually, they’ll be borrowing clothes from each other’s closets.

10. They are loyal

These cousins will always have friends for life. Like siblings they are connected because we’re family. We will always be there for one another, and that’s something really special.

A version of this story was published September 5, 2017. It has been updated.

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