Monday 8 October 2018

Giving Thanks: The Importance of Extended Family

My family, both immediate and extended, is a blessing in my life.  This past weekend we celebrated our Canadian Thanksgiving and we are reminded to take a moment to reflect on the blessings in our lives.  What can I say, I have an endless list of things to be  grateful for.  Two daughters that are healthy and bring me joy like I’ve never known before.  A husband that has loved and supported me for 17+ years.  Parents that taught me to be strong, confident, self-assured, kind, forgiving, loving and open-minded.  Three nephews to love, adore and watch grow.  A sister that always has my back.  Two grandmas continue to give me the gift of multi-generational learning, living and culture.  Aunts, uncles, cousins, that all wrap us with endless love and support.   Friends that I choose to be my family because they lift me and challenge me in the same breath. 

Thanksgiving 2018 with my in-laws. 

Today I am choosing to focus on a specific topic, extended family and their role in helping me raise generous, confident, nonjudgmental, loving children.  I was raised with plenty of family around, and family friends, around to keep me safe and protected.  I look back on the first 10 years of my life and feel that there was a village that was guiding who I would eventually become.  Obviously my parents were my primary caregivers and the ones that made decisions about our upbringing, but I had the opportunity to develop strong, healthy and life-lasting relationships with my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, cousins and community members.  This upbringing has impacted how I’ve taken on my role as mother, a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a friend, an aunt, a teacher and a community member.


This year my girls were fortunate to kick off their summer vacation by spending a week with my sister and her family on the coast without us.  I felt absolutely no hesitation to send them.  Why?  Well even though my sister lives two provinces away and we don’t get to see them often, she has been an integral part of the girls life thus far.  They know her as family, but more importantly they trust her, feel safe with her, feel her love as that of someone who has a great investment in them.  Even though they live far from us they've made choices that have allowed them to forge these relationships of equal part love and trust.  They have flown home to welcome the girls into the world, they have snuggled them, gone to the park with them, taken them to ice cream, swam in the pool with them, had family vacations, talked to them on the phone, Skyped, Facetimed, etc.  My sister has put the work into building a relationship with the girls and I feel like that relationship can never now be undone.  To end summer 2018 off the girls were invited to join my sisters family and my parents, who are a part of the girls day-to-day life, in Washington for a family wedding.  Logan and I had no way to attend the wedding but my girls were once again surrounded by family.  Not just the family they know intimately but family that helped raise and shape me.  They made new bonds, they forged new relationships, they know that their family circle extends beyond the people int heir day-to-day lives.  


These are the people we have chosen to leave in charge of our children if anything should happen.  Hmmm.
Dressing fancy with tetka Tiki.

The three marketeers.


My girls know there is a large circle of people in their corner.  They have family in Saskatoon, Regina, Big River, Victoria, Seattle, Bosnia, Serbia, etc.  Some of these people they have close daiily interactions  with and others they know from stories.  Either way they know that other people are rooting for them.  They also developing their own definitions of what it means to be a significant member of  a family, how to support each other, how to make time with family a priority, how to have responsibility to more than just yourself, how you can never run out of love.  Should anything happen to Logan and I, we know that they will be with people who love them and would care for them.  We know that our story would be shared with them.  We know without a shadow of a doubt that they would have every opportunity to be loved, cared for and develop into the best versions of themselves.

Aunty Jenna, uncle Jason and baby Anya.

Baka, deda, great-grandma and the girls.

Missing a few Dautbegovic/Fazlagic clan but we keep them close to our heart.

Goofing around with striko & strina.

Aunties can give us sugar anytime!

Nana, papa and the girls with their birthday gifts.

Cousins sharing with Cooper.

We are fortunate to have family both near and far.  We have family to support us in our day-to-day child rearing and ones that have to work harder to sustain their relationships.  But some people don’t have family near by, or close ties, but they create family with their friends.  That’s another post but friends are family you choose.  Rely on them.  Have your kids learn to relay on them.  Allow them to step into shoes of an aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather, cousins.  All of us need a tribe of some sort.  Life is better with a tribe.  So I give thanks to the fact that we are fortunate enough to have a large tribe to help us raise two wonderful kids. 


Further reading:

How Important is Extended Family to Kids?

The Importance of Extended Family to Your Child's Confidence & Growth


  1. You have a beautiful family, hope your Thanksgiving was restful. This post rings true to me too- I love it.

    1. We had a great time and a new baby to cuddle. Lots to be thankful for. I know you guys are super close to your whole family. We are so lucky.

  2. I wish my family, especially my extended family was bigger! You are so blessed as are your children! I always think Thanksgiving is such a great day to slow down and to think about all that we are thankful for!


    1. I completely agree and it's about reflecting and gratitude, rather than gift giving. Don't get me wrong I love Christmas but it the importance of it can sometimes get away on me. Do you have any family close by?

  3. Yes I totally agree with you! I grew up with a big family and so did my hubby. I am fortunate that we had that upbringing for myself and my hubby because it is what I wanted for my son. Unfortunately, as my family is spread across different cities, when my son was born, it was hard to develop the relationships further because of distance. My parents are the only one that showed up and it truly broke my heart for my little guy. And that's why there was a lot of weeding out that happened before I started this blog to ensure that the people in our lives are the ones that will care for Lucca as if he was their own. So as small as my tribe is I am grateful because I know it's not the quantity but the quality that counts. I love this post and you have a beautiful family.

    Maureen |

    1. Just reading this floods me of memories that are less happy regarding family. I think it's important to weed, or at least distance yourself, from people that aren't going to support and love you. The tribe you have, family or friends, is the one that right for you. It's taken me many years, and still working, to be okay that one side of the family just gives a lot more than the other. Lucca is lucky to have the people he has and as he grows he will pull people into that tribe too, thus changing, strengthening and making it bigger.