Extended family relationships are links to the family outside of the immediate family; including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and ‘chosen families’.
Risk and/or Protective Factor
Living with extended family can be a risk factor for mental health difficulties. Living in a two-parent household as well as with extended family has been associated with more anxiety and depressive symptoms in children and young people (1).
On the other hand, extended family relationships can be a protective factor as they can provide further support and care. Having more frequent contact with and feeling closer to extended family was associated with a lower likelihood of suicidal ideation in comparison to people with less frequent contact (2). However, if interactions were negative (such as frequent criticism, being taken advantage of), then this was linked to more suicidal thoughts.
1. Kang J, Cohen PN. Extended kin and children’s behavioral functioning: Family structure and parental immigrant status. Soc Sci Med. 2017 Aug 1;186:61–9.
2. Nguyen AW, Taylor RJ, Chatters LM, Taylor HO, Lincoln KD, Mitchell UA. Extended family and friendship support and suicidality among African Americans. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol [Internet]. 2017 Mar 1 [cited 2021 Jan 22];52(3):299–309. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27838732/