Confusing Family Relationships

family relationshipsAttending a family reunion where you meet relatives you have never seen before can be a real headache sometimes, especially if you have a very big family. Dealing with each of them is an average challenge, but knowing exactly your relationship with each is definitely a clincher.

Consider this: The daughter of your mother’s sister is your first cousin, and your mother’s sister is your aunt. Your mother’s first cousin is your first cousin once removed and his son is your second cousin.

Also, your mother’s first cousin is your son’s first cousin twice removed. Your father’s second cousin is your second cousin once removed, and your grandfather’s second cousin is your second cousin twice removed. Having a migraine? Here are some clarifications on kinship terminologies:

Cousin relationships

In kinship terminology, you are a cousin to a relative with whom you share a common ancestor. In modern usage, however, the term "cousin" is hardly ever used when you refer to a relative in your own line of descent. Today, we use more specific terms when describing relationships – brother, sister, uncle, aunt.

The degree system

We use the degree and remove systems to describe the exact relationship between two cousins and their common ancestor. The degree system (first, second, third, and so on.) signifies the minimum number of generations between one of the cousins and the closest common ancestor.

Here is a simple approach to ease out confusion regarding cousin relationships: You are a first cousin to someone because you have the same grandparents. You are a second cousin to someone because you have the same great-grandparents. You are a third cousin to someone because you have the same great-great grandparents.

The remove system

On the other hand, the remove system (once removed, twice removed, and so on.) is used when you and your first cousin come from different generations. For example: Your parent’s first cousin is your first cousin once removed because you are younger than your grandparents by two generations, and your parent’s first cousin is younger than your grandparents by one generation. The "once removed" terminology is used because two generations less one generation equals one

Your parent’s first cousin is your son’s first cousin twice removed because your son is younger than your grandparents by three generations, and your parent’s first cousin is younger than your grandparents by one generation. The "twice removed" terminology is used because two generations separate your son and your parent’s first cousin.

 
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