As a Genealogist there really are times where I feel closer to my kindred dead than to my living relatives. It’s often easy to bury myself in the discovering of facts about people I wish I had known and forget to forge deeper relationships with those in the here and now. But I know it’s important to make both living and deceased family members a priority in my life.

“Whether we live in the same city in which other members of our family live, or far away, or even whether we have any living relatives, our choices are the same. Our extended family can be seen as a natural extension of ourselves, or they can be seen as distractions from our own needs and interests.

The scriptures abound with insight into (See Gen. 11:31.) During a time of famine, Joseph of Egypt saved the lives of his father, brothers, sister, and their families. (See Gen. 42–47.) Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro, discussed their welfare on at least one occasion: “Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he said.” (Ex. 18:24.) Though he was a prophet, Moses honored his father-in-law and respected his counsel.” – “Extending Family Relationships,” Ensign, Oct 1986, 57

Mormon FamilyIt’s not always easy to improve our family relationships. Sometimes you may not even want to try when it concerns certain individuals. Maybe you simply can’t see eye to eye with your Mother in Law. Maybe your don’t like being around a cousin because you find them annoying. Then of course there are generational differences. Perhaps you feel like your grandparents simply can’t relate and that it’s not worth telling them about the ups and downs of your life. Or perhaps simple distance between your areas of residence prevents you from trying to establish anything more than a yearly Christmas card correspondence.

“Developing close ties between generations can sometimes be challenging. Challenging also are the relationships we must develop after marriage. The mother who enjoyed being the special confidant of a son or daughter can no longer assume that role. The father who has been a provider and adviser to a child will discover that his role changes when that child marries. Likewise, the son or daughter who marries must also assume new responsibilities. New in-law relationships must be strengthened. A daughter-in-law needs to understand her mother-in-law’s past relationship with her son, and the mother-in-law must understand and accept the position of her son’s wife as the new central figure in his life.” – “Extending Family Relationships,” Ensign, Oct 1986, 57

Ours is the duty to practice patience and understanding as concerns our family members. They are worth getting to know better. It is also worth the effort because it may strengthen Christlike attributes within ourselves such as those mentioned above.

There are many ways to improve extended family relationships. You could write regular letters or emails to a relative who lives far away. You could start a Family Newsletter or a Family Blog or organize a family reunion.

If some of your family relationships are in turmoil I encourage you to go to the Lord in prayer. Ask him to soften your heart toward the relation with which you are struggling. Pray for understanding and love. If you really want to change your relationship with that person for the better, I can think of no better way to make it happen than with Heavenly Father’s help. If you ask in sincerity he will bless you with the understanding or patience you desire.

“Extending our family to include grandparents and cousins, grandchildren and nieces, neighbors and friends is really just a matter of extending our love. And as the Lord has consistently counseled, the more love we extend, the fuller our life will be of the things that matter most.” – “Extending Family Relationships,” Ensign, Oct 1986, 57

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