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The Value of the Extended Family in Raising Children

Allen Teal

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Having the support of an extended family can help parents through many of the tougher times with child raising. Extended families play an important part in at least three areas of parenting. The extended family can assist with childcare needs on a limited or full-time basis. They can come to the rescue when parents cannot see solutions to problems that they face with their children. In this case, twenty heads can be much better than two. The extended family can give a greater sense of the importance of the family reputation and name than just a single set of parents could ever do.

Many parents suffer through finding babysitters and childcare providers for their small children. When these parents are attached to a strong extended family unit, childcare is rarely a problem. Grandparents and aunts and uncles frequently are only too willing to watch the little ones for an evening or in an emergency. Often, permanent childcare solutions can be found within the extended family that will give dependable care at a large monetary savings to young parents. Because of the availability of childcare, parents will have far fewer absences from work due to problems in this area.

In an extended family that spans multiple generations, parenting help is easy to find. Questions that arise about situations in children's lives often have already been faced and answered by previous generations of family members. Having a lot of such people also means that the family will have influence in the school and other public venues that will help keep young lives out of trouble.

Extended families also can give children a sense of depth and importance that a nuclear family cannot achieve. Children can see the value of a good name extending back through multiple generations. This builds a sense of family pride and self-esteem into the child. The feeling of being with your own kind and having a place to belong cannot be overstated. The family becomes the place where you go to be accepted unconditionally.

A child's self-worth is derived in this situation from who they are rather than from what they do. Even the trouble makers serve a value because they can be seen as detrimental to the well-being of the family. This can be important when the young person is tempted to head down pathways that are not in his or her best interest. The stream of advice and support is to great to resist.