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Unit 1 Essay 1_Page 1

The assignment question:

What are the different kinship roles - such as nephew, aunt or uncle, in-law, grandson or
granddaughter - that you play as a result of being a member of your extended family? What
rights and obligations does each of these roles entail in your family? Do you have any fictive
kin? How did they become "like family"?
My answer:
The kinship system is described in our text book as The social organization of the
family. It is based on the reciprocal rights and obligations of the different family members, such
as those between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, and mothers-in-law and
sons-in-law. (Strong & Cohen, 2014, p.17) Based on this definition I belong to more than just
my nuclear family and my roles will be different based on the interaction I have with other
members. These roles are so much more than just about my own happiness and well-being but
the happiness and well-being I bring to the other members of my family as a kin. I am a niece of
3 uncles and an aunt from my fathers side. I am also a niece to 3 uncles on my mothers side.
My role as a niece above all is to treat my aunt and uncles with respect, because they are older
now, they once in a while will need my help with household chores, rides or simply company. I
feel I have a duty to both my father and mother to make sure I assist my aunt and uncles with
physical and emotional help. My obligation to my aunts and uncles is that I will also look after
both of my parents whether it be financially, emotionally and physically since I am the first born
in the nuclear family followed by a brother and sister.
Being an aunt is a fairly new role in my life, my brother has 2 very young children under
5 years of age and my younger sister has 1 daughter who is less than 1 year old. Since I am the
eldest of the two, I do find myself offering to help by babysitting my niece and nephews

Unit 1 Essay 1_Page 2

whenever I get the chance. I find this extremely rewarding because I get to bond with the
children, finding out what they like to eat, do and play. Even though they are not my children
being an aunt to them makes my heart bigger. I can see them as my children and helping both of
my siblings whenever I can makes me feel like I am contributing to my extended family as a
whole. It makes their lives much easier when a member of their family can take their children
even if its only for a couple of hours. Our text book makes a reference to a kin they are an
essential support in the more complicated task of raising children in a dual-earner household.
(Strong & Cohen, 2014, p.19) Both my husband and I work, I can relate to how difficult it is to
be able to work full time, going to school and dedicating time to our children.
Being a granddaughter also carries some innate obligations. In my family it is not only a
duty but a privilege and honor to be able to care for your grandmother. I am the eldest and first
granddaughter. My grandmother is 95 years old and very frail, she however still has a vivid
personality that commands respect. She raised me from an infant to a young teenager because
both of my parents worked. My grandfather passed away a long time ago and all of the
remaining grandchildren, including myself contribute to her care so that we dont have to put her
in a nursing home. She is more prone to falls and sickness so leaving her alone is not an option.
Right now more than ever she needs companionship and help with chores around the home.
In conclusion being part of this family is so much more than just being a member. Up
until now I felt that I was just another person in the family and that I benefited the most because
of all the love and care I have received from my extended family. However, as I am writing this
paper, I realized that being part of this family I have many rights that come with being a member,
such as mentor or guide to my younger siblings. I am also a contributing member because I offer
care and assistance both financial and emotional to my aunts, uncles and grandparents.

Unit 1 Essay 1_Page 3

Reference List
Strong, B, & Cohen, T. F. (2014). The marriage and family experience: Intimate relationships in
a changing society (12th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.