Why we can never escape our siblings

New science sheds light on how birth order and brother-sister relationships shape our lives. An expert explains.

By Mandy Van Deven


Zurijeta via Shutterstock

Sometimes a family tragedy can expose bonds you didn’t know existed. That’s what happened with my younger sister and me. Although just 11 months apart, we could not have been more different: I rebelled as hard as she conformed, and if you met us at a party … well, that would never have happened, because we never went to the same parties. If we hadn’t been forced to spend summers together with our dad after our parents’ divorce, my sister and I would have spent scarcely any time together at all. Then my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer and given less than a year to live. Suddenly, for the first time in our lives, my sister and I were not only inseparable but totally in sync.

Some patterns came naturally, since they were holdovers from when we were kids. Negotiating household chores was a breeze. I agreed to wash the dishes if she would dry and put them away. The next night, we swapped duties. Other moments of synchronicity caught us by surprise, like realizing we both avoid dealing with our emotions by taking on more responsibility. During the nine months my mother fought a losing battle for her life, she found joy in watching her daughters put aside their childhood differences and learn to appreciate each other as adults.

In “The Sibling Effect,” science writer Jeffrey Kluger argues that the relationships we have with our siblings are the most important ones of our lives. From the time we gain a brother or sister, they can be both our fiercest competitors and closest confidantes. They teach us the social skills we carry for life and stand by us during our best and worst experiences — divorce, the birth of children and our parents’ deaths. In his book, Kluger uses the latest scientific findings to explain the meaning of everything from birth order to the stigma of the only child.

Salon spoke to Kluger about the enduring loyalty of siblings, why treating children the same is a bad idea, and the problem with being the middle child… (read the rest of the article here)

  • goguen56245

    Actually such kind of relation has been more need for us and if we want to make a better world it will be best for us. So i hope after read this content most of the viewers will be aware about this.