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The importance of family

Jonathan and Miles at their Nana's house for

Jonathan and Miles at their Nana's house for a family BBQ. (July 14, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Shameka Dudley

Growing up, our extended family didn’t live close to us, but before our parents packed up my younger brother and me and moved from Queens to Long Island, they became close friends with a woman whose children are considered our “cousins.”

Fairly close in age, the eight of us (my youngest brother was born after our move), spent a great deal of time together — even after we relocated to Suffolk County.

Now that we are all adults (and have 21 children among us), we don’t get together as often as we used to, but the Perrys and the Dudleys are still, and will always be, family.

I am very happy, though, that my son will have the opportunity to grow up with my brothers’ children, along with his dad Andre’s nieces and nephews.

Jonathan, 2, spends a great deal of time with his younger cousin, 1-year-old Miles. His auntie and godmother, Krissy, watches our son while his dad and I work.

These two are quite the pair. Jonathan is the protector of his younger cousin, once chasing down a ball stranded in a bush, ordering Miles to “stay there!” while he grabbed it for him. And Miles strives to keep up with Jonathan, now jumping off sofas like his older companion.

It’s very important to me that our boys, along with my youngest brother’s children, Jeremy, 12, Keyani, 10, and Marcus, 3 months, are close. It is my hope that they learn to depend on, protect and be there for one another as they venture into adulthood.

How close are your children to their cousins?

Picture: Jonathan and Miles at their Nana's house for a family BBQ.

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