10 Mar Appreciating Your Siblings
My Nutrition and Foods teacher, in high school, was a fun talkative lady. She cared about each of her students and had unique way of getting us to look at the world. One day she told us that both of her parents were only children…which at first doesn’t appear too unusual. It’s not unheard of to be an only child. But then she told us to think about what this meant and how that would influence her life. “It means,” she told us, “that my parents have no siblings, but that I also have no uncles, aunts, or cousins. So you can imagine how much fun family reunions are.”
Her statement made me take a moment to look at my siblings and gain an even greater appreciation for having them. Not only will I have an amazing support system throughout all of my life because of them, but I have so many adventures and good memories already because of each one of them. Ask anyone that knows me well and they’ll be able to tell you that my siblings are an enormous part of my life. I could write a whole book on how amazing each of them is, but for this paper I’ll look at the benefits that siblings have on each other throughout all of life.
Our siblings affect how we relate to other people, how we see ourselves, and provide the support system that we will have in later years. These relationships accomplish all of this because “it’s a bond unlike any other that we have in our lives.” This is why parents are encouraged to promote affection and closeness between their children.
Studies have shown that having siblings can lead us to be more active and healthy. That a blessing to have a constant playmate. Activities that require physical activity like sports, tag, water fights, or hiking, are activities that more often require someone to do them with. Even eating habits improve because of siblings. When children have someone close in age to base food intake on, they eat smaller portions, and healthier foods.
Positive social skills are more easily developed because of interaction with siblings. Brothers and sisters provide an opportunity to interact with peers on a daily basis. It provides a chance for children to do good deeds for one another and allows for positive interactions. Even fighting provides an opportunity for siblings to learn. Children are able to learn social rules regarding conflict. They learn how to control their emotions and work through their frustrations with other people, along with developing forgiveness, compromise, and sympathy. Mastering these traits helps us in all of our relationships throughout life; having good relationships with siblings, has even been shown to decrease the likelihood of divorce.
Mental health is also improved when siblings have good relationships with one another. They lend support to each other, provided a listening ear, and give children someone “who’s got their back.” A child’s likelihood of depression is decreased when they have siblings that are dealing with the same family crisis and stresses as they are. This support system extends into later life as siblings often become each other’s closest friends in adulthood. From them we also have an extended support system in aunts, uncles, cousins, and nieces and nephews. This support system encourages individuals to take on challenges, and stay positive during difficult situations. Mental health benefits are also seen specifically when we have sisters. A combination of studies found that “having a sister protects adolescents from feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious, and fearful.”
Every situation with siblings is unique. Age differences, gender, and overall experiences will vary but I can speak from personal experience that having siblings is fun. And more than that it provides opportunities for growth and learning. The friendships and support that we develop with them will continue throughout childhood and be a factor even in later life. Healthy sibling relationships should be promoted and cherished.