Sibling rivalry: How your brothers and sisters make you who you are

Do your siblings help shape who you become? Who would the Weasleys be without each other? / Warner Brothers

If you have siblings, you probably know about the age-old struggle for dominance and have a personal tormentor for the rest of your life. Regardless of being older or younger, shorter or taller, your brother or sister — or even a combination of both — will always be hanging around for when you need them.

That is assuming that you have a deeply rooted bond with them.

Sibling bonds are special. In most cases, they’re some of the only people you become exposed to for a while (if you have older ones) and a constant in your life from an early age (if you happen to be older). Because of all this exposure, siblings have a huge influence on the person you grow up to be.

According to an interview with NPR — a radio and news publication out of New York — with Jeffrey Kluger, author of the book The Sibling Effect: What the bonds among brothers and sisters reveal about us, the most profound effects that siblings have on us come in terms of our conflict resolution skills and relationship formation and maintenance.

When you’re young, it’s basically a guarantee that you’ll fight; especially if there’s a large age gap between you. You’re at different stages in your life and one may be maturing more than the other.

It’s almost inevitable. New problems will arise and it’s no longer about who broke whose crayons. Eventually there will be a point where parents won’t even have a say in the argument and you have to fend for yourself.

However, your opinions may start to conflict as you get older and that’s where things also start to get tricky. These trivial fights give you the ability to learn about how to take on your own arguments. Sure, they may be about trivial things when you’re little, but as you get older you’ll start to understand more about yourself and society and what’s worth arguing and what’s not.

When you’re young, you sometimes joke that you hate your siblings. They’re jerks and get on your nerves, but ultimately they’re still your siblings and you know you love them.

When you get older, external things can change because internally you’re changing. Someone starts to do something the other just can’t support and soon enough that close childhood bond can start to fade away until you refuse to talk to them and they’re just a complete inconvenience.

Kluger believes the way we form relationships with our families, and specifically our siblings, is important to our personal growth. These are the first relationships we encounter, aside from those we see between parents, grandparents and other family, so it’s where we begin to understand the actual formation of a bond. A lot of the time you’ll hear people compare their friendships to that of the relationship sibling’s share. But what happens when your relationship with your siblings becomes more like an awkward friendship, or even worse?

The reason we can sometimes disconnect from our siblings is the same reason why we are able to connect so well to others — it’s in our genetics, or so Kluger says. In all his studies on the topic he has found that genetics have a greater impact on the sibling relationship than any other factor.

Brothers and sisters are like permanent friends who you can always depend on. I think it’s best to appreciate what you have while you’ve got it, and try to make things work out. So instead of taking your siblings for granted when you make jokes about hating each other, you should consider yourself lucky.

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