Growing up with cousins means you not only have a stand-in sibling, but a ready-made friend forever.

are very special to mum Christina Lim, 32. It’s not only family time with her husband and 3-year-old son Alex, it’s also when she gets to see her nephew and niece.

“My brother has two kids, Janice, 2, and Jason, 7, so we try to spend every other weekend with their family,” Lim explains. “We go over to each other’s place for a playdate or meet at a kid-friendly spot.”

For Lim, it’s important that her son spend time with his cousins. Since he’s the only child, she wants to ensure that Alex gets ample opportunities to socialise with other kids. Nurturing a strong bond between cousins also means the kids will always have each other growing up ― even into adulthood.

“Even though Jason has a sister, I think he enjoys spending time with Alex because they’re boys and have a similar sense of humour, plus they love and protect Janice ferociously, which is very heartwarming to see,” Lim says.

Cousins can play a pivotal role in your life. Since you’re related by blood, you’ll always be bound together. Beyond that, a cousin can also be a confidant, best buddy, stand-in sibling and a forever friend.

While siblings are connected from childhood through to adulthood through shared life experiences, cousins will always be your first friends.

So, don’t underestimate the power of cousin relationships. Instead, help your child make the most out of this special bond, especially in their formative years. Here are five reasons how a strong friendship with cousins can benefit your child.

#1 They are substitute siblings

While siblings are connected from childhood through to adulthood through shared life experiences, cousins will always be your first friends. They will be there for your birthday parties, at important family gatherings, and where you’ll probably go for your first sleepover. It’s quite likely that cousins become as close as siblings, especially if they are close in age. Later on in life, they might end up being confidants who will help each other through the awkward teenage years. If junior has a cousin the same age as them, their bond might even be as strong as twins. In fact, sometimes cousins might be closer to each other than their own siblings. “Janice and Alex are a year apart, so they understand each other very well. In fact, they have their own special language and hand signals when they communicate, it’s very cute,” Lim says.

#2 They share the same cherished childhood memories

The kiddos may not see each other consistently, but when the cousins meet up, it’s party central. The few hours they are well spent and the memories they make are for life. “I still remember playing board games in my grandmother’s house every Christmas with my cousins as the adults would sit around talking in the living room,” recalls May Wong, a mum of three. “And we still talk about those carefree days even now as adults. When I see my kids play with their cousins, I hope it will be the same for them in the future as well.”


#3 They are the only ones who’ll understand your family dynamics

Nobody understands your crazy family the way cousins do! Since they are the offspring of siblings who grew up together and who probably have similar parenting styles, cousins are bound to understand each other when one says, “My mummy is so mean!”. Cousins can commiserate with each other over the memory of when grandma gave everyone the same ugly, reindeer socks one Christmas. Or the time when Uncle Kenneth, a former national athlete, won a medal for the country. These stories get retold over the years, whenever cousins meet for gatherings, keeping the memories alive. These precious nuggets of information are then passed on from one generation to the next, becoming family lore. The funny ones are shared to recall fond moments, while inspiring ones are told to motivate the next generation.

These precious nuggets of information are then passed on from one generation to the next, becoming family lore.

#4 They make good role models

Since cousins come in all shapes, sizes and ages, you can model yourself after a pool of talent. Many of us have cousins we looked up to, whether it was because of their “cool factor” or that they were a star on the soccer field and even on stage. “As a kid, I used to look up to one of my cousins who sang very well and won competitions. I used to look forward to going over to her place, so that she could teach me to sing like her,” says Vasunthara Raman. “Now our daughters, who are close, love to dress like each other, and one will egg each other on to try a new food!”.

#5 They will be there in good times and in bad

If you lose touch with a cousin you were once close to as a kid, it’s not the end of the relationship ― unlike your friends. Your lives are so intertwined that there will always be an opportunity to see each other. This ranges from happy occasions like weddings, christenings/baptisms, kid’s birthdays, to even tragic ones, such as wake or funeral. Cousins make for a great support system as they in it for the long haul. And just like every other relationship, it needs to be nurtured. So, if you haven’t been supporting your child’s relationship with her cousin to date, it’s probably time to do something about it!

Photos: iStock

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