Are You Thankful for Your Siblings?

The holiday season is one of the few times during the year when people try to focus on family. They travel miles by car and airplane just to spend time with those that they love. Since the beginning of the human species, families and other communities have been vital. However, new research shows that of the relationships you have with your family in adulthood, few are as important as the one you have with your siblings.

Until recently, psychologists have conducted research on siblings during childhood. They emphasize the classic “sibling rivalry” method of vying for dominance. Researchers also examine the ways that children hone their social skills using their siblings. It’s no stretch to say that the sibling bond plays an important role in the development of children.

During childhood, siblings learn a great deal from one another. Younger children gather more relatable cognitive data by imitating their older siblings. In turn, the older child learns valuable social skills in dealing with younger people. Both benefit from the circumstances despite the perennial contest deciding “who the favorite is.”

Recent studies prove that the bonds between brothers and sisters are important into adulthood, as well.  In fact, they are frequently the longest lasting relationships people have within their families. When older family members fall ill and pass away, your siblings are the ones there to support and comfort you through the ordeal. Having that support is incredibly important as you age. This relationship affects many measurements of a person’s well-being in middle age. People polled who had adult siblings tended to score more positively on things like mood, morale, stress levels, depression, health, and life satisfaction. How you feel about your brothers and sisters directly contributes to your psychological and biological health.

The effects are so strong that a study in Sweden suggests positive relationships with one’s siblings actually increases life expectancy. People in their 80s who felt satisfied with their contact with siblings tended to live longer. Life satisfaction was higher for them than people without siblings who strong bonds with friends or even adult children.

So, next time you’re sitting around the dinner table with your adult sisters and brothers, think about just how important they are to your quality of life. Do you find that your family is a benefit to your health? If you have any siblings, how do you think they’ve impacted your life in a positive way? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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