While a bit of harmless sibling rivalry is common amongst most brothers and sisters, new research has discovered that having a sibling actually has a positive impact on our mental health.
Although at times our siblings can drive us a little crazy, a new study has revealed that growing up with brothers or sisters can not only shape our identities, but it can also have a positive effect on both our physical and emotional well-being.
For example, researchers have discovered that having a close bond with a sibling can promote selflessness in teens, particularly amongst boys.
"In our study, most relationships were not as important for boys as they were for girls," said study co-author Laura Padilla-Walker, from Brigham Young University. "But the sibling relationship was different - they seemed to report relying on sibling affection just as much as girls do. It’s an area where parents and therapists could really help boys."
In addition, researchers also discovered that siblings can also boost our happiness as we grow older, discovering that older people with living siblings have a higher sense of morale. Bonding with our brothers and sisters isn’t only important in childhood – but staying close throughout adulthood may also bring major benefits later in life.
However, it isn't just emotional benefits that having a sibling can bring. A recent report by Time found that on average, those with poor social connections died about 7.5 years earlier than those with secure ties to family or friends.
Perhaps quite shockingly, that’s approximately the same difference in length of life as the gap between smokers and non-smokers. However, the exact reasons for this remains unclear. This may be because those with family are more likely to turn to them for support in times of sickness or stress, or it could be that caring about our family gives us the motivation to take good care of ourselves.
Whatever the exact reason, maintaining and building strong relationships with siblings is proven to help us live happier and healthier lives!