Family & Parenting

The 10 Best Things About Growing Up With Cousins

Family functions would be so boring without them, right?

There is a special category of people who — if you’re lucky — think of you as both a family member and a friend. For many of us, sharing secrets with our cousins on the backyard swingset is our first introduction to lasting friendships.

Unlike friendships that come and go, relationships with cousins hold strong through thick and thin. Often, they set the stage for lifelong bonds. They’re like your siblings, but you don’t see them often enough to get on each other’s nerves!

Whether you’re still close with your cousins or just need a reminder of childhood memories, here are the 10 best things about being close with cousins.

1. You Form Instantaneous Friendships

Maybe your mom and aunts stuck all the kids in a room and hoped for the best. Sure, this resulted in plenty of spats and a broken lamp or two. But the friendships were also as instant as boxed mashed potatoes.

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2. You Basically Have More Siblings

For those who do have siblings, cousins are basically extra brothers and sisters that you don’t have to take home. If you’re an only child, you may think of your cousins as the brothers and sisters you never had.

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3. You Get To Reminisce With Cousins

Remember how many hours it took to open presents at Christmas? Or how Grandma’s unsweetened iced tea was the only option if you were thirsty? No one else relates to your family’s memories the way your cousins do.

Cousins have so many personal memories to share and laugh about — and many more memories to make as you get older.

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4. Family Functions Are So Much Better

Of course you love spending time with your entire family … but you really just want to get outside and play in the treehouse with your cousins. In my family, Sundays at our grandparents’ house were never a chore. Hours flew by before we were being dragged home by our moms and dads.

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5. Sleepovers

I recall one of my cousins sleeping over my house for two weeks straight one summer. That’s how much fun we had together!

Sleepovers with cousins are an easy transition for learning how to be away from your parents. Plus, you get to conspire about which house is the best for weekend stays. I think our grandma and grandpa got the short end of the stick a lot!

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6. Older Cousins Show You The Ropes

Clothes, music, movies and makeup — having older cousins can help you stay ahead of the game. My cousins were first to introduce me to things like pierced belly buttons, Jennifer Lopez and “Free Willy” (of all things). They even shared some cool hand-me-downs.

Later on, cousins can also teach you a few tricks on how to get away with a little rule-breaking!

teens shopping photo
Getty Images | Jemal Countess

7. Judgment-Free Zone

Cousins are all at different stages in life and are bound to have different quirks. But unlike siblings who — let’s face it — can be brutally critical at times, cousins embrace one another so everyone can just be themselves.

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8. Cousins Relate To The Tough Times

All families have good and bad moments. When you need a good cry or you just need to vent, chances are you have a cousin who is feeling the same way. When you have cousins, you never have to let problems fester. It’s like your own little therapy group!

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9. Adults Get Time Together

Looking back, I realize how grateful the adults in my family must have been when the kids all ran into the yard and the parents could actually carry on a conversation. That is, until one cousin got injured and another got in trouble.

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10. Cousins Help You Appreciate Family

My cousins and I value the time we had growing up together. To this day, we still get excited about “cousin outings” and getting to see each other as adults.

As some of my cousins have started having their own children, there’s nothing more exciting than watching their kids grow up together. Cousinhood is a special bond that will be passed on to the next generations.

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Getty Images | Scott Barbour