If you have a sibling then surely you remember the days of back and forth banter and fighting over clothes and toys. It seems as if these moments are a built-in part of childhood for anyone who has a brother or sister and the memories are often brought up years later at the holiday dinner table. For most, having a sibling to grow up with was like having both a friend and an enemy at all times. But new research is showing that having a sister may just make you a better person.
While parents can have a profound effect on the person we one day become, research is showing that siblings matter in a different way, giving children something unique. According to research, having a sister, in particular, can cause you to be more empathetic and nurturing, while also helping you become better at resolving conflicts and improve your mental health. Maybe all those years of battling for mom and dad’s attention paid off and you have your sister to thank for your empathetic nature?
One of the main reasons why having a sibling can be beneficial later in life is the fight factor. It’s no surprise that siblings spend the majority of their young lives fighting over nearly everything, which gives them the ability to solve conflict at an early age.
“Even if there is a little bit of fighting, as long as they have affection, the positive will win out,” said Laura Padilla-Walker, a researcher at Brigham Young University in Utah. “If siblings get in a fight they have to regulate emotions. That’s an important skill to learn for later in life.”
For those who are married to a man who has a sister, you may find that he is an epic communicator. According to research, men who group up with sisters, are better at communicating with women later in life since they spend their childhoods practicing.
“They help you develop social skills, like communication, compromise, and negotiation,” said Alex Jensen, assistant professor at the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University. “Even sibling conflict, if it is minor, can promote healthy development.”
Because women typically do more to keep the family together later in life, after the parents have passed, they are said to be responsible for mental health improvements. In most cases, being with family releases good emotions and feelings of safety and comfort, therefore, by keeping the family together, sisters are stimulators of these good feelings, providing a natural boost in mental health for their other siblings. Because sisters are so nurturing, their other siblings are less likely to feel lonely, fearful, unloved, guilty, and self-conscious.
“What we know suggests that sisters play a role in promoting positive mental health, and later in life, they often do more to keep families in contact with one another after the parents pass,” said Jensen.
So, now that you know your sister may be responsible for your solid marriage or your epic conflict-resolution in the workplace, it may be time to give her a call and thank her for simply being her, even if she stole the phone from you all those years ago.
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