Family is one of the greatest blessings we are given on this earth. Having these special people in our lives ensures that we won't go through hardships and trials alone. No matter what mistakes we make or achievements we accomplish we always have somebody there. In fact, your family members can be, and should be, some of your closest friends and most trusted confidants. Here are some tips on how to become closer to extended family.

I have been blessed with an amazing extended family. Along with my immediate family, they are my biggest support system. We make it a priority to communicate regularly with one another. We have social media pages for our family members so we can see the latest happenings of the family and communicate together, even when hundreds of miles away. For those of us who live in close proximity with one another, we even get together monthly for dinner.

However, my husband's family is very different. He hardly knows his cousins. He doesn't even know what city most of them live in. He has a few close extended family members, but many have slipped through the cracks.

Knowing and building a close relationship with extended family members can improve the quality of you and your immediate family's lives. Here are a few reasons why extended family members should be a vital part of your life.

Build friendships and networks

Your cousins, uncles, aunts and grandparents can be some of your biggest fans. They can attend important events in your life. Family members can be your first source when you need assistance and they can be some of your closest friends.

Each person has different skills and hobbies that can be valuable assets to family members. Maybe you have a family member who is good at fixing automobiles or a nephew who has the intellect to tutor family members struggling in school. By being there for one another, you can build a network and help each other out, no matter what the situation may be.

Establish habits for generations

If you do not make extended family important in your life, your children will not make it a priority in their lives. Your children pick up on your habits and feelings toward certain things and people. If you are outspoken and speak negatively about your extended family at home, your children will pick up on those same habits. Remember, what you teach your children within your own walls may be passed on to your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.

Understand your family history

Every family has a past. When you know and have a relationship with family members, it is easy to piece together a family history. You can gather valuable stories that other family members may have or even remember. You will also have an easier time tracking down photos and other family heirlooms.

Your extended family is also a valuable resource to educate yourself on family health conditions. Many illnesses and health problems are inherited. By knowing your family members and health problems they endure, it becomes easier for you to know what to expect, what you need to be mindful of, and additional options if health problems arise.

Provide stability in life

If you are like me, when relationships in my life are weak, I have a hard time in many additional aspects of my life. I have a harder time focusing, sleeping and even eating. Strong family relationships can provide that stability we each need in our lives. If you don't feel you have strong relationships, do all you can to make amends. Ask for forgiveness from family members or be willing to forgive others. Send a letter, make a phone call or visit an extended family member you may not have seen in a long period of time. When those relationships become stronger, things in life more easily fall into place.

Family should be a main focus in your life. They bring much gladness, joy, assistance, love and friendship into a home. What can you do to improve your own family relationships?

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