If you grew up with siblings, whether you liked them or not, they were some of the first connections you had with other people. The way we interacted with them and the way they treated us helped shape how we face others in the world, even now.
I recently came across an article in Psychology Today that touched on this topic big time, and it really got me to thinking. When we are children growing up with siblings, we learn how to share and how to deal with issues we otherwise might struggle with if we were coming from ‘only child’ homes. As much as some of us might hate it, living in a home with other children can be a great tool for growth.
Psychology Today wrote as follows which I felt was important to share on the matter:
Siblings resolve a range of issues, from the mundane to the emotional, in a variety of ways. They may rationally debate a solution to their conflict or scream and fight until someone gives in. However, they manage it, even as young children, siblings have to find ways to live together. In the process, they start to establish patterns that emphasize either cooperation or hostility.
Thinking about your own sibling relationships, what patterns do you think characterized yours? Did you feel you were largely supportive of each other or always at war? Was there one sibling who you were closest to? Or, if you had only one sibling, how did your closeness to him or her change over time? If you’re an only child, you may still be able to recall your early patterns of family peer relationships if there was a cousin or child of a close family friend with whom you essentially grew up.
This really made me think about growing up with my brother and sister. Because my brother and I were close in age we confided in one another in a lot of ways. We were very close and we spent a lot of time together from basically the time he was old enough to talk. Though I wasn’t a big fan of him when he was a baby, he grew on me as he developed a personality.
My sister, on the other hand, was someone we both seemed to not like very much, and looking back we were a bit too mean to her. We all have great relationships with one another now but I do agree that my brother was my first best friend outside of perhaps my cousins and he was for sure my closest friend in that sense for a very long time. When I couldn’t go to my parents with something, I knew I could always go to him and that he could be trusted.
While there isn’t a lot of research out there on the topic according to the Institute for Family Studies there is something about having siblings that seems to make a person more ‘stable.’ This I agree with on some levels. I believe it has something to do with the emotional outlet your siblings depending on the situation offer you. Instead of facing troubled times alone, you always have someone to turn to that has been there since ‘day one.’ That is unless you have a bad relationship with your siblings which can and does happen.
One study actually wrote as follows in their conclusion on the topic of sibling relationships:
The sibling relationship is a natural laboratory for young children to learn about their world.3 It is a safe and secure place to learn how to interact with others who are interesting and engaging playmates, to learn how to manage disagreements, and to learn how to regulate both positive and negative emotions in socially acceptable ways.33 There are many opportunities for young children to develop an understanding of social relations with family members who may be close and loving at times and nasty and aggressive at other times. Further, there are many opportunities for siblings to use their cognitive skills to convince others of their point of view, teach or imitate the actions of their sibling. The positive benefits of establishing warm and positive sibling relationships may last a lifetime, whereas more difficult early relationships may be associated with poor developmental outcomes. The task for young siblings is to find the balance between the positive and negative aspects of their interactions as both children develop over time.
How do you feel about the topic of siblings and do you think they shape the way we interact with others? I think without my brother I would be a lot quieter than I am currently because he taught me how to speak out in a more effective manner. How have your siblings shaped you?