Your siblings can determine how kind and empathetic you are, a new study has found. It seems there may be more benefits to having a brother or sister than just raiding their toy stash or their wardrobe.
The Canadian study found children whose brothers and sisters are kind, warm, and supportive grow up to be more empathetic than children whose siblings lack those characteristics.
We tend to focus on the influence adults have on our kids, rather than their brothers and sisters. Even younger siblings can positively influence each other’s empathic concern over time.
Of course, what the study did not address was, what if your kids want to kill each other some days? My kids fight over the same toy. My kids fight over the remote control. My kids fight over who can get in the bath first. My kids fight over who is the boss.
I have a girl and two younger boys. I foolishly thought before I had my boys that we would dress up in velvet blazers and sit around having high tea and playing board games most weekends, before doing a spot of craft and painting. They would also love fashion and just adore hanging out with their mum.
My boys could not care about fashion. They think a tartan flannelette shirt is just fine matched with Hawaiian board shorts and gumboots. They are of course most happy when they are nude. Or covered in dirt or mud.
Their ‘happy space’ is hitting each other with anything from the kitchen broom to sticks they find in the garden. They also love each other unconditionally and I tell them every day to look after each other, as family is all that matters.
But still, craft time ends in a paint fight or a pipe cleaner up someone’s nose. My boys do love their overprotective and highly neurotic mother very much, but they ADORE their father. The three of them spend hours playing cars or watching silly movies about superheroes. And do not get me started on the eruption of giggles when one of them burps or does a botty blurt!
They may also favour their father because whenever the boys come anywhere near me, I cover them in kisses and tell them how much I love them and tell them they must live with Mummy forever and ever.
But this new study looks at what brothers and sisters are teaching each other as they grow up. Looking back at my childhood, my gorgeous big brother taught me to drink rum and smoke secret cigarettes.
He also landed me in hospital thanks to our rough play, including the time he threw a brick at my head in the pool during a game of brandy. I did not turn out to be a serial killer. And my brother loves me fiercely.
There is no love quite like the protective love of a big brother. No matter what your age. You just have to survive your childhood with them and avoid pipe cleaners.