Family Life


2 min Read

Is it important for kids to have relationships with extended family?

family dinner with a grandma, father and child.

When the relationships are positive, extended family members can make significant contributions to a child’s life. Relationships beyond the immediate family can offer numerous benefits to children’s social, emotional and cognitive development. Keep reading for why it’s important for kids to have relationships with extended family. 

Emotional support: Extended family members, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, can provide additional sources of emotional support for children that can contribute to children’s overall well-being.

Sense of identity and belonging: Extended family connections help children develop a
sense of identity and belonging within their family unit and broader community. Hearing
stories about family history, traditions and cultural heritage from older relatives can strengthen children’s understanding of their roots and family identity.

Role models and mentors: Extended family members can serve as role models and
mentors for children, offering guidance, advice and encouragement as they navigate
different stages of life. Positive relationships with extended family can provide children
with additional perspectives and support as they grow and develop.

Social skills and relationships: Interacting with extended family members allows children to practice important social skills and learn how to navigate different personalities and develop meaningful connections with others outside of their immediate family circle.

Family traditions and values: Sharing holidays, celebrations and special occasions with
extended family members creates opportunities for children to learn about their family’s
beliefs and cultural practices.

Support network: Extended family members can serve as an additional support network
for parents, offering assistance with child care and other practical needs.

Sense of stability: Maintaining connections with extended family members provides
children with a sense of generational stability, helping children to understand their place
within the larger family network.

While extended family relationships can be beneficial for children, it’s important to
recognize that not all family situations are the same. In some cases, extended family
members may not be available or may not play a significant role in a child’s life due to factors such as distance, family dynamics or estrangement. If possible in your family dynamic, attempting to foster positive connections with extended family members can enrich children’s lives and contribute to their overall development and well-being.

Originally published in March 2024.

a man carrying two children