The Science of Siblings

Love them or hate them, your sisters and brothers are by far the most influential people in your life — more so than your parents, your husband, and your own children.

INdy and Chidi have always had a special bond with my only sibling. I was there when he was born and have somewhat felt like a mother to him. Mind you, these days; people think he is much older than me just because he is taller and bigger protruding in muscles.

And yet, he is an important person in my life: he was the only man that could and did give me away at my wedding. I tease him a lot but still respect and admire his accomplishments at such a young (well old) age. Yet still, I still see him as my baby brother and never cease to remind him at all times that he is just that: my baby brother. The final factor is that I cannot imagine my life without him.

Time science writer Jeffrey Kluger, who mined the latest research on sibling relationships for his new book, The Sibling Effect says that siblings are “essentially fungible, interchangeable people.” “But in terms of the fundamental ways you’re shaped, I don’t think anything touches siblings.

From the time we’re born, they’re our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and our cautionary tales. Our own children arrive comparatively late in our lives; our parents leave us too early.” Kluger was asked for other insights into brothers and sisters.

Firstborns are brainier. Firstborns are disproportionately represented in the Ivy League, with one study showing that 66 percent of incoming students were the eldest sibling in the family. Twenty-one of the first 23 U.S. astronauts were firstborns or only children. Firstborns dominate law firms and investment banks. Last-borns tend to be less educated, more likely to become comedians or artists. “The thinking behind this is that older siblings benefit from more alone time with parents. When a younger child comes along, the older one benefits from mentoring the younger one,” says Kluger, noting that one study found that firstborns have a three-point IQ advantage over the next eldest.

Girls fight dirtier. In the childhood war for parental love and attention, Kluger says, sister-on-sister fighting has a distinct edge. “Boys ten2e2672caf2017a329107b331682c15b5d to use high-powered strategies: I can punch you harder, and therefore I win,” he says. “Girls often bring a much subtle, more psychological element. They tend to have a sense of the emotional weak spots of their opponent — and how to exploit them.”

Singletons catch a break. Decades ago, the prevailing thinking was that being an only child was a “disease,” Kluger says. “Now we know that singletons tend to work faster and have better vocabularies; they develop a confidence and self-contained quality.” He cites an overscheduled lifestyle. “Kids get socialization in school and then at after-school activities,” he says. “Then they’re up at 7 a.m. for swim practice.”

Parental favouritism hurts … the favoured child. Pampered kids can face a rude shock in the real world — where they’re not always so special.

Final Thought: I have never had a sibling rivalry but I do admit that I had what you call ‘sibling jealousy’. I felt that my mother favoured my brother more than I did but as I am now a mother – I understand that no such thing exists. There is nothing greater or thicker than blood no matter the distance forgone in discussion/communication. My brother and I might not chat as frequent as we would like to but we do know that we are forever bonded. Here’s to you Franklyn aka Chichi aka Bobo…

Define what Sibling Rivalry or Sibling Love means to you if it does exist in your family?

Yours in love – The Renaissance Lady ©

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