Every holiday season, families re-unite, reconcile, and join together to bask in the holiday cheer. Amid conversations of what’s new and what’s not so new; it is apparent that although some things haven’t changed, others have. For family members traveling from out of town, this may be the first time in years that they’ve seen their nieces and nephews or little cousins who are well on their way to young adulthood. There are probably many milestones that have taken place since the last time all the family has gathered; milestones like: a first tooth falling out, 18th birthdays, and even a soon to be college graduate. When this happens, it’s easy to feel guilty about your distance and disengagement, which has caused a wedge between you and the growing kids in your family. But don’t feel discouraged, feel inspired! If you happen to serve as an extended relative, whether you’re an aunt/uncle from out of town or a big cousin who lives down the street, you can still have influence in the lives and development of the children in your family. Yes, even if the holidays are the only times you see them.

But what do you do when they aren’t your children and you’re only around them for short periods of time during the holidays?

Understand that it takes a village to raise a child, and extended family members are well a part of that village. If you are open, willing, and capable of offering your support; whether it’s monetarily or through encouragement, make that known. You not only serve as an additional resource to them but a role model as well. This additional relationship also provides confidence and security to the child/teenager, which is beneficial to their development. With the advancement of the technological world, social media platforms are an excellent way to keep in touch with teenagers, only if they have been granted their parent’s permission to use them. It also doesn’t hurt to stick to the old fashioned way of communication through phone calls and mail. Mailing birthday cards, graduation gifts, etc., are a great way to reinforce your initial support of them. The kids in your family are only growing older; therefore, they are in need of more support as they are starting to mature and make decisions for themselves. It’s never too late to be engaged in their development. As kids grow up to be young adults, it is important that you are there to cheer them on and educate them on how to be bold world changers. But you can only do this, one call, one visit, and one form of support at a time.

Make it your mission for 2019 to be engaged, involved and an influence to the children of your family; they won’t be children forever. Enjoy your holiday season! Happy New Year!