I woke up this morning extra tired. We spent the weekend driving a few hours to spend the day with extended family, and it was worth every second of lost sleep. It was a delight to spend time with my parents, siblings, nieces and nephew, and grandma. But the real joy came in watching my kids enjoy spending time with their cousins. The cousin bond is such a gift, and I will do whatever I can to nurture this bond. Because growing up with cousins is a priceless gift that keeps on giving. 

I grew up with cousins and I am so grateful for it. Some of my cousins lived nearby and we saw them often. Other cousins lived across the country. Some cousins were my age; others were much older or younger than me. But these differences in age and geographic location mean less the older we get. We might go years without seeing each other in person, but when we’re together the age differences and distance that separates don’t seem to matter. The cousin bond is just that powerful. Just that strong. Just that unique.

Related: To the magical aunt who loves my kids more than life 💜 

5 reasons the cousin bond unlike other relationships:

1. Cousins understand us in a way few people can

Cousins know our histories. They know our family quirks. They know the story about how we got that scar on the back of our knee and they understand why we’re afraid to drive a jet ski on the lack. Cousins knew us as kids, and if we’re lucky, they’ll know us as adults. Because they’ve been there for so many impactful and memorable parts of our childhoods, they understand us in a way that few people can.

2. Cousins are a safe place

One of the reasons cousins understand us so well is because when you grow up with cousins you have a safe place. A safe place to vent about your parents and siblings. A safe place to share your hopes and fears. A safe place to be authentically you.

3. Cousins appreciate our “weird” family idiosyncrasies

Every family is unique and cousins get that. They know our back stories so we don’t have to explain the details. They just know. Growing up with cousins—especially cousins you see regularly—means they have been there through thick and thin. They have been at all the family get-togethers and picnics. They’ve been at the birthday parties that ended in tears. And they were at the weddings where they watched their parents dance like they were 20 years old again. Because they’ve seen it all, they understand the family quirks that make our families unique and special.

4. Cousins are a combination of sibling and friend

Watching my kids’ relationships with their cousins grow and evolve over the years has filled my heart with joy. In their cousins, they have a person who is part sibling and part friend. They bicker and argue. They share secrets and inside jokes. They are at ease in a way they aren’t with many other people. With cousins, there is the closeness of a sibling bond, but because there more space and distance, cousins don’t have the same friction that siblings often do. Cousins are the perfect combination of friend and sibling, all wrapped up together.

5. Growing up with a cousin—or cousins—is a priceless gift that keeps on giving

On a recent family vacation, we met two cousins who traveled together often. As I listened to stories of their adventures over the years, I was captivated. But I was also enamored with the fact that these two women who were now in their 60s or 70s still traveling together. My own parents still see some of their cousins on a regular basis too. #cousingoals 

Related: I love seeing my child develop personal relationships with family members 

Growing up with cousins is a gift. Cousins make childhood extra magical—and fun. There is always someone to play with, hang out with, talk with. There is someone who just gets it. There are built in playmates, partners for sleepovers at Grandma’s house, and friends at family events. 

If we’re really lucky, we won’t just get the magic of growing up with cousins, we’ll get the joy that comes with growing old with cousins too. We’ll have someone will understand the joys and challenges of raising kids. We’ll have someone who mourns with us hen a grandparent dies. We’ll have a person who sees us for who we are now because they knew who we were way back then. We’ll have someone who will celebrate our victories with us and pick us up when we fall.  

Because a cousin is a priceless gift that keeps on giving.