At the ripe old age of 25, I don't really consider myself an "older relative."
But to five (soon to be six!) little someones, I am just that.
You see, while in my own life I've been pretty well focused on connecting with older-than-I-am folks, multi-generational relationships don't always mean reaching up, but also leaning down.
Encouraging relationships with the littles in our lives is an important way to begin making connections multi-generationally.
Think about the wonderful relatives who invested in your life. I have an aunt who visited me regularly, brought me books for my birthday, and took me to New York when I was seven. She was a huge influence in my education, my passions... and she still is influential in my life today.
I'd like to be that person for someone.
And God gave me five (soon to be six!) someones in whom to invest.
Go to their important events- baptisms, birthday parties, pre-school graduation. Take time to talk with them, as little as they may be- three-year-olds are hilarious. Share a little of yourself with them, whether it's a love for reading (like my aunt), or fishing, or fixing computers... inspire them to do something amazing!
Of course, just like with older relatives, connecting with younger family members can be tricky when they're far away.
A blogger (I don't remember who! Remind me and I'll link to them!) wrote a post about how her children received coloring pages and stickers in the mail, and the joy that brought to them. Do that! I've also marked mailing days on my calendar, and have a note with my nieces and nephews addresses in my binder so I have no excuses and don't forget. Choose something they'd enjoy. One of my nieces is four, and loves fairies and horses, so I sent her a horse coloring page. But don't over-think it. Just getting something in the mail brightens a child's day (and hey, we'll be honest, getting something other than junk in the mail brightens my day, too).
For the tiny littles- like my nearly two-year-old nephew- I like to send a picture of Zeke and I along with the coloring page, so he connects "Auntie Adrie and Unkie Zeke" with our faces. (And it's a good excuse to get a nice picture of Zeke and myself.)
And yes, we're busy. And yes, nurturing our family community takes time. But oh, it's so worth it.