Brothers Are Good for Your Health, Too!

Amy Kuras
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sistersI'm going to see Ramona and Beezus with my daughter, and while I'm seriously skeptical about the gorgeous Selena Gomez as Beezus (she's supposed to be a smart, kind of plain girl, not a perfect and beautiful teen!), I'm really looking forward to it. The books, and now the movie, give my daughter and me a glimpse into a world neither of us really knows: The relationship of sisters.

She and I both have only brothers, younger brothers at that. Now, I adore my brother and eventually scored a sister-like relationship with his wife, whom I also love, and watching my own brother-sister duo together melts my heart. But I've always envied the easy interaction and deep friendship the sisters I know seem to share. We recently reported that sisters are especially good for each other.

Any loving sibling relationship helps protect against depression and antisocial behavior, while boosting kindness and generosity. But while both brothers and sisters had positive effects on each other, the sister relationship was especially formidable. The study authors say this is likely because sister relationships are more mutual, with sisters reaching out to each other more equally and more often, while brothers tend to be less likely to keep in touch.

Okay, so my own brother does tend to communicate information through our mom and we talk directly much less frequently. But I will say, though, through times of family stress, we've been each other's main source of support.

And I think that's why sibling relationships of any kind are good for us even as adults. No one else understands your dad's goofy "world's greatest Polish comedian" joke or how exactly to get your mom laughing so hard she spits Diet Coke out of her nose or, especially, the less fun parts of your family dynamic. Being able to pick up the phone and say, "Dude, Mom is OUT OF CONTROL about Thanksgiving dinner" saves my sanity. Having an ally, someone else on "Kid Team," as my brother calls it, is invaluable when a crisis hits and you need someone you can talk to about your family who needs no back story at all.

If you're an only child or raising one, don't despair; only children tended to have higher self-esteem than kids with siblings. The only really negative relationship is one where siblings fought to the point of inflicting real emotional damage on each other.

What's your relationship like with your siblings?


Image via AshBayGrammy/CafeMom

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