It is easy to understand your genealogical relationship to your mother, father, grandparent, aunt, uncle and cousin. These are your close relations. Things get a bit more complicated when you start talking about your uncle s siblings, your grandmother s nieces, your cousins twice removed. Family reunions are fun, but they can also be intimidating. You can use a family tree maker, or genealogy software, to prep yourself on your relations beforehand, but it is also beneficial to understand the basic terms before taking that step.

Family Relationship Definitions

First Cousin: Your first cousin, or simply your cousin, is the child of your aunt or uncle. He or she shares one set of grandparents with you.

Second Cousin: Your second cousin is the grandchild of your grandparent s sibling. In other words, you share the same great-grandparents with your second cousin, but not the same grandparents.

Third Cousin and Beyond: Your third cousin has the same great-great-grandparents as you, your fourth cousin has the same great-great-great grandparents, and so on.

Removed: The term  removed  indicates a different generation. Your first, second, third and fourth cousins (and so on) are all in the same generation as you. Your first cousin once removed, however, would be your cousin from your parent s generation   a first cousin of your parents. Your father s first cousin is your cousin once removed. Your cousin twice removed would be your cousin from your grandparents  generation (e.g., your grandfather s first cousin is your cousin twice removed). Your second cousin once removed would be your parent s second cousin   or your child s.  Removed  applies to younger generations as well. Your first cousin s child would be your cousin once removed. Your first cousin s grandchild would be your cousin twice removed.

Make Family Relationships Simple with Genealogy Software

A number of online and downloadable software programs can help you chart out your family tree. Whether you are preparing for a family reunion, exploring a new hobby or just interested in knowing about your ancestors, these genealogy programs make the process easy and fun. Several free programs are available, although they typically have limitations. They usually require you to input your family relationships yourself, or they limit the number of generations you can view. is one of the biggest online databases of genealogy records, and it costs $19.99 per month after a 14-day trial. Other software, such as Legacy Family Tree and Family Tree Maker, provide all the access you need to find your ancestors for a one-time fee of $30 to $40. Many of these programs connect directly to and other online databases, providing you the most comprehensive information available.

Conduct some simple research to find the program that best meets your needs. Once you begin building your family tree and exploring your ancestors, you may be amazed to learn about your relatives and the intriguing stories attached to many existing profiles. What began as a mere interest will soon turn into a fascinating hobby!

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