Cousins – First, Second, & Once Removed

We recently had our first family reunion, ever, for my father’s side of the family.  (I talked about it here).  It’s actually the first family reunion that I have ever attended.  I’ve always been a little envious of those families where all the cousins know each other and are close.  Those families who have the huge summer get togethers or the holiday meals in church halls because no one has a house large enough to fit everyone who wants to celebrate together as a large, extended family.

Don’t get me wrong, we have large gatherings when we get together, but it’s large just based on the sheer numbers in our immediate families.

Once we got together as an extended family group and in person, it made me wonder – how are we related beyond our first cousins?  Are any of these people my second cousins?  What is a first cousin once removed?  When you read the definitions, it is so confusing to me that I just mentally shut down.  But, now that we were together, physically, I decided to try and figure it out again.  Being able to put a face to a label made it make so much more sense.

So, here goes.

The children of siblings are first cousins to each other.

Theresa (aka Mama) wearing white with two of my sisters (Diane is on the far right in green shirt – note the matching hair – and Joan is the short one in the white ball cap) and my brother (Patrick in the ball cap) along with our first cousins, Tina (next to me) and Todd (on the far left).

My father and their father were brothers.  So we are first cousins.

This is where is gets a little confusing.

The children of first cousins are second cousins to each other.

Here is a picture of all of our children who attended our little family reunion.  (Note: We were missing a few of our children.) 

Some of these kids are siblings, some are first cousins, and some are second cousins to each other.  The children of my brother and sisters are first cousins to each other, and the children of my first cousins are first cousins to each other.  But, my children and my nieces and nephews are second cousins to my first cousins’ children.

Confused, yet?

Children of your first cousins are your first cousins once removed.

The older girl is my first cousin, Tina’s, daughter, and she is holding my first cousin, Todd’s, baby.

They are first cousins to each other, but they are my first cousins once removed.

My first cousin, Todd’s, children.

They are my first cousins once removed.

Conversely, my children and my nieces and nephews are Tina and Todd’s first cousins once removed.

And so forth.

This is how it works:
Any first generation is parents.
Their children are siblings to each other and share parents.
Their children are first cousins to each other and share grandparents.
Their children are second cousins to  each other and share great grandparents.
Their children are third cousins to each other and share great great grandparents.
And so on.

Here is how “the removed” works:
The child(ren) of your first cousin is your first cousin once removed.
The grandchild(ren) of your first cousin is your first cousin twice removed.
If you are first cousin once removed to someone, they are first cousin once removed to you.

Our First Ever Family Reunion Group Picture.

So, this picture includes first cousins, second cousins, and first cousins once removed along with spouses, significant others, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and nieces and nephews.  Wow.

My daughter and my first cousin’s daughter also belong to the same sorority (at different universities) which means they are second cousins to each other and sisters, too.

The beauty of this weekend was that, in spite of the fact that we spent very little time together growing up, we came together seamlessly.  Even if all of the relationships are a little confusing.

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