Extended families-don’t Poo-poo; Part of the Tree of Life!

tree of life ext families How many of you have extended relatives; uncles, aunts, cousins, great grandparents, or great uncles/aunts,  with whom you stay in touch on a regular basis? The involvement/importance of the extended family is not as palpable as it was years ago. A few decades back, It was not uncommon to have regular, extended family get togethers, during which a meal was prepared/shared, entertainment of games and music between all in attendance, as well as lots of time for cousins to play together. There is a reason why they say it “takes a village to raise a family in the tree of life,” no matter what culture or nationality.

The family events within my personal family were action packed and not overly taxing on any one person as duties were all shared and everyone was accountable for various tasks. This lightened the burdens for all in attendance, so that all could relax and enjoy one another. There were no concerns about safety on the part of the parents in regards to the children  and/or utterances of being bored from any of the children or teenagers. The older children typically took charge and engaged the younger ones in card/board games or outside games of football/baseball or hide and seek.  There were occasional cries or tattling to the adults, but nothing that wasn’t solved with a few words or change of scenery for the affected one (s). Practical jokes always worked their way in and added nothing but great memories that are still shared to this day, decades later.

One on one time was spent between uncles, aunts, grandparents and cousins. The elders taught the young how to play cards and/or games; all of which helped the younger ones with their spelling as well as arrithmetic. My Grandmother could play music by ear, therefore, it wasn’t uncommon for her to sit down and play music while all took part around the organ and sang songs. Special skits were put on for the crowd by the elder cousins and on occasion, movies of past events were shared. All in all, the events created learning experiences from the elders to the younger generations; helping them build an awareness of who they and their families were, as well as personally move up the ladder of self-confidence.

The efforts our elders took in order to plan and put these events on was a huge contribution to the lives of the younger generations. As children, we learned accountability in helping do whatever we were asked, had unplanned math/spelling lessons (via games), exercised through play, learned how to get along with others (no matter the age), ate well and most important of all, learned the true meaning of “a family.” We all loved and cared for one another. We didn’t just talk about it, we walked the walk through effort provided by the elders.

In the last decade or so, it was common to see adult friends typically take on the role of extended family, for those adults no longer geographically located near their relatives. The need for such a relationship was there and who better to fulfill the extended family role than those who knew and cared for you and your families– your closest friends. The only difference being that you weren’t related by blood. Extended family roles have also been taken on by communities. I’s about caring for others and hoping for a better world for the next generations, through human effort.

In this day and age of being barraged by so many mixed messages from our surroundings, there’s never been a time more in need of extended family support and safety within.  We all learn through life  that there is nothing as precious or important, as a family’s love and caring for one another. It is never to late to start involving the younger generations in extended family events;  just takes a little planning and a few calls to start or to take part in.These events are a win-win for those involved, remembering full well that we are all part of the family tree!





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