You may have spent your youth squabbling over everything from Barbies to boys, but according to new research, having a sister could be good for your mental health. A new study from Brigham Young University shows that positive sibling relationships — particularly sisters — have lasting positive effects on mental health and can even help fend off depression. The close bonds encourage traits like kindness and generosity, shaping a positive future. And their findings seem to span all sets of siblings, no matter the age gap.
The research team followed 400 Seattle families who had two or more children, with at least one child between the ages of 10 and 14. They found that having a sister was more beneficial than having a brother because sisters prevented their siblings "from feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious and fearful." And one researcher on the study says that this is more pronounced in females than males because girls tend to take on the role of a caregiver and communicate more openly, and because relationships between sisters tend to be more mutual.
The study also showed that parents' actions impact their children less than siblings' actions, and that siblings have twice as much power to reinforce positive behavior than parents do. Unfortunately, this means that hostile sibling relationships can promote negative behavior, and siblings who fight often are more likely to experience aggression in other relationships. Do you feel like this research rings true in your sibling relationships?