How to Get Along With Your Cousins

Helping a younger cousin with her homework helps to build bonds.
... Todd Warnock/Lifesize/Getty Images

In today’s busy world, families are often scattered across the country or around the globe. You might see your cousins only occasionally and seem to have little in common with them. Yet many people feel the pull of shared ancestry, and desire closer ties to their relatives. If you want to bond with your cousins, use the same skills that you use to build relationships with anyone else.

1 Sharing Good Times and Bad points out that the first step in building a relationship between cousins is to make time to see each other outside of big family gatherings. Offer to babysit a younger cousin or ask an older cousin to help you pick out something to wear to the prom. Look for opportunities to get to know each other one on one and create happy memories. Facing adversity together also builds bonds, notes the Kids Helpline. Talk about the scary or painful situations in your lives rather than making polite small talk.

2 Learning to Communicate

Communication hurdles can be tough to overcome, but persistence eventually pays off. Ask questions and pay close attention to the answers. Next time you talk to your cousin, follow up on something specific she said during a previous conversation. Show genuine interest and be willing to share your own secrets. Resolve conflicts respectfully by avoiding personal attacks and sticking to the facts. Work together to find solutions that are mutually beneficial.

3 Finding Common Ground

Your cousins might be significantly older or younger than you. They might have different values, religious beliefs or cultural practices. At first glance, you might think that you have very little in common. If this is the case, dig deeper. Ask your older cousin to tell you about life at your age. Ask your younger cousin about her hobbies, friends and favorite subjects in school. Discuss movies, music and current events. Eventually you will hit on something that you have in common, which you can use as a building block for your relationship.

4 Appreciating Your Differences

Celebrate the ways in which you and your cousins are different. Spending time with someone who is very different from you provides a new way of looking at the world. Try looking at your time together as a vacation from your daily life. Enjoy your time together without trying to change each other.

Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer specializing in disabled adventure travel. She spent 15 years working for Central Florida theme parks and frequently travels with her disabled father. Fritscher's work can be found in both print and online mediums, including She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Florida.