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Extended Family in Canadian Co-Parenting

The Role of Extended Family in Canadian Co-Parenting

Every parent knows that their extended family is a very important part of their lives when they are married. They provide childcare, offer advice and can be called on for an emergency if needed. Extended families within Canada serve all of these functions. However, what many parents are surprised to find out is that their extended family are integral to enabling them to co-parent effectively after a separation or divorce.

What are Extended Family?

Often, when we think of extended family, we think of grandparents and maybe aunts and uncles. However, that is not the only people who can qualify as extended family. Think about anyone important in your life and who have been important for your children.

With those thoughts in mind, extended family can include:

  • Grandparents
  • Aunts
  • Uncles
  • Cousins
  • Close Family Friends
  • Daycare Teacher
  • School Teachers
  • Coaches

So what is the role of extended family in Canadian co-parenting?

Well, let’s look at that very important question and go over the answers.

One: They Provide a Support System

The very first role that your extended family will play is the one of support. Remember that you are going from one house to two and this can mean that there are times when you need babysitters, or shuttling to and from places where neither you nor your co-parent can do it.

Extended family often help with this support and they can also be mediators at drop offs if you find that you have a high conflict break up and need someone you can trust to go with you.

It is important to note that extended family should not take sides or bad mouth the other partner, even if they are upset themselves. Around the kids, they should be a united front that is focused a 100% on the needs of the kids and not on the egos that have been hurt in the breakup. It isn’t easy but support should be just that, support.

Two: They Help Build a Child’s Self Esteem

Playing into the same premise of being a support, extended family provide a sense of belonging for the kids and they will look to those adults as role models for them to hold themselves up to. This is a very important role that extended family play because when the kids see their extended family being welcoming to them and their parents, they feel that support. And feeling that support and sense of belonging can increase their self esteem.

Another part of building the child’s self esteem is that extended family can reassure the kids that they are loved and lovable. They can also be people for the kids to talk to about their own fears, concerns and about dealing with the loss of having parents who are together.

With parents, extended family can be united in letting the kids know they are loved, they are welcomed to family events and nothing has changed in how the extended family sees them and all of that will build the child’s self-esteem.

Three: A Sense of Identity

Another important role that extended family play is the role of culture and identity. Children who have links to their extended family can have a sense of belonging to a community and group. This gives them a sense of identity and helps them process the loss that they are experiencing. While their parents are separating, kids can suffer from a sense of identity and being with their extended family can help them find that again.

Something else that is important with this is that kids can be a part of their cultural identity with extended family. Grandparents can teach traditions and language, cultural celebrations with the kids can be shared, and overall, kids can be part of their cultural community through their extended family. 

Four: Feelings of Stability

As you know, separation and divorce affects a child’s stability and their sense of stability as well. Often, houses change as parents move and split property. Schools can change and with that, so can friend groups. Kids feel a lot of turmoil and have a really hard time feeling settled.

That is why it is so important for extended family to be part of their lives. Extended family offer that stability that they need, especially if they were part of the kids’ routines prior to the separation. If there were family get togethers, such as Sunday dinner at the grandparents, kids can still attend and have that normalcy even if only one parent goes to that dinner ever Sunday night.

Another part of this stability is the continuity that they bring with them. Going back to those Sunday dinner, having those traditions continue after the divorce will help your kids setting into being between two houses.

This stability is very important for Canadian co-parents and their kids and will provide a lot of help in being successful co-parents.

Five: Love

While we’ve touched on this many times throughout the entire article, it is a really big one. Extended family provide love for the kids. They can be there when the kids need a break from their parents or when they just want to unwind.

It is important for extended family to provide a place for the kids that is filled with understanding and also to allow the kids time to vent without getting in trouble. When kids have this type of extended family, they can adjust to co-parenting more effectively and their well-being will continue to improve.

There are many ways that extended family members fill important roles in your co-parenting family and it is so important to include them. This helps you, your kids and your ex-partner with their well-being and sense of happiness and it will create a new family dynamic where your kids will always feel the support and love of those around them. So get in there, invite your extended family into your kids’ lives and cheer when you see all the benefits that comes with extended family.

Why 2houses?

We are a co-parenting facilitator!


A calendar for everyone, getting organised when you’re divorced is a priority. 2houses provides you an online shared schedule, with many editing, adding, and sync features.


For us, as divorced parents, the financial topic is most of the time a conflict topic. Now, 2houses manages all expenses from each parent, keeps you informed on the situation, day after day, coins after coins.


Communication is key, this is why 2houses offers you an online messaging tool, simple, efficient and secure.


The journal is your quick family social network. You can easily share all information, news, photos, videos, and even your children’s funny quotes. The family is never far away, no matter where you are geographically located.

And many more features!

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