Family Relationships

“The holidays are coming up.”

Americans say this before Thanksgiving. When we say “the holidays,” we are talking about all the special days at the end of the year – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve. “Coming up” means coming or happening soon. We spend a lot of time with our families during the holidays, so this week, we’re going to learn what we call our relatives. By the way, “relatives” is a general word we use for people in our families. All of your relatives are related to you.

Immediate Family

Your immediate family is very closely related to you. Immediate family includes parents (mother and father), siblings (brothers and sisters), and children (sons and daughters).

Pete Souza [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pete Souza [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Do you know this family? Barack, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha Obama are immediate family.

Malia and Sasha are sisters. They are the daughters of Barack and Michelle.

Michelle Obama is the mother of Malia and Sasha. She is the wife of Barack.

Barack is the father of Malia and Sasha. He is Michelle’s husband.

Barack and Michelle are the parents of Malia and Sasha.

Immediate family can also include these people:

  • half siblings – A half brother or half sister shares one parent (mother or father) with you, but not both. Maybe you have the same father, but different mothers, or you have the same mother, but different fathers.
  • step siblings – A step brother or step sister has different parents from you, but one of his/her parents is married now to one of your parents. For example, Brian and Kate have different parents (different mothers AND different fathers), but Brian’s mother is now married to Kate’s father. Brian and Kate are step siblings. Brian is Kate’s step brother. Kate is Brian’s step sister.
  • step parents – A step mother or step father is not your biological parent, but is married to one of your biological parents.
  • step children – A step son or step daughter is not your biological child, but you are married to one of the child’s biological parents.

Extended Family

Your extended family is outside of your immediate family. It includes:

  • aunts
  • uncles
  • grandparents
  • grandchildren
  • cousins
  • great-grandparents (great-great-grandparents, etc.)
  • in-laws
  • and more

Here is a short description of each family member’s relationship to you.

  • aunt – the sister of your father or mother/the wife of your uncle
  • uncle – the brother of your father or mother/the husband of your aunt
  • grandmother – the mother of your mother or father
  • grandfather – the father of your mother or father
  • grandparents – your grandmother and grandfather
  • grandson – the son of your son or daughter
  • granddaughter – the daughter of your son or daughter
  • grandchildren – your grandsons and granddaughters
  • cousin – the son or daughter of your aunt/uncle
  • great-grandparents – the parents of your grandparents
  • great-great-grandparents – the parents of your great-grandparents (for each extra generation, add another “great”)
  • in-laws – the family of your spouse/the spouse of your family
    – The mother of my husband is my mother-in-law.
    – The husband of my sister is my brother-in-law.
    – My husband’s family are my in-laws.

Your Turn

Make a family tree to show the relationships in your family. Use this tree to start, but add more relationships and names. Ask your teacher for help if you need it. Then show the tree to your class and talk about your family. You can say:

  • I have ___ sisters and ___ brothers. Their names are…
  • My parents are ______________ and ______________.
  • My mother has ___ sisters and ___ brothers. My aunts’ names are…, and my uncles’ names are…
  • I have ___ cousins.

Tell as much as you can!

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

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