I didn't expect that a soccer game could show me the beauty of extended family. But when my two boys' high school soccer team made the semifinals in the state playoffs, my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law, along with their families, acted like ... well, family. My parents and siblings, who lived in state, cleared their schedules to sit on hard benches in cool weather after paying an exorbitant entrance fee. And those who lived out of state, in spite of having their own to-do lists, e-mailed or called the boys as they watched game highlights on YouTube.
Then, miracle of miracles, my boys' team won the semifinals. And even though it was an evening game, family members patiently waited to congratulate each boy, then returned three days later for the state competition.
There's no doubt that attending two games inconvenienced our extended family, and yet, they showed support. And my nieces and nephews willingly gave up activities that were important to them to spend time with us.
One labored to create a yellow poster and flags out of white typing paper, glue and a highlighter, and told those in his fifth-grade class that he would be supporting his cousins and not his own school — also competing in the playoffs. He even skipped his end-of-season sports banquet, where he was getting an award, to root for my boys.
A high school junior, knowing there would be repercussions, told her soccer coach she wouldn't be at practice; others hurried from their performance in a high school play — and the list goes on.
A shared moment
My boys' team won, and their extended family was there in person to congratulate them. The moment brought tears to my eyes. I was overcome by this lavish expression of family love.
By being at the games, sending e-mails and interacting with my kids one-on-one, my husband's and my families gave the next generation a gift — a model for how extended family participates in each others' lives, even when it's inconvenient. And my boys noticed.
How should you support family members, especially those in the next generation? Get practical tips that will help you build your relationships with your extended family by reading "Be There, Show You Care."