My mom jokes that my sister learned to walk early because she was so busy trying to keep up with me, and even now, she jokes that she's been trying to ever since. I remember when my sister first borrowed a dress and accidentally ripped it, just like I remember when she'd come into my room unannounced and we'd just sit there together listening to music after we'd argued.
Every girl's relationship with her sister is complicated, but numerous studies have shown that despite the inevitable petty jealousies and competition, your sister changes you for the better. The need for this bond is so important that moms need to help raise sisters who grow up and sustain a close and supportive relationship.
A study done by the University of Ulster found that women with sisters are more likely to be confident in social settings, tend to be more ambitious, are less likely to have depression or mental health issues, are less likely to get divorced, and are more likely to have a kinder disposition in the long run. Why is this?
Tim Cassidy, the head researcher of the study, said "[The] presence of girls opens up channels of communication and it becomes a much more expressive situation and that's positive." Laura Padilla-Walker from a Brigham Young University study on the power of sisters simply said, "Just having a sister led to less depression."
Now, depending on their age, your little girls might not look like they'll have the best relationship, but don't give up hope.
Many studies show that sisters, in general, tend to be closer to one another and that the worst age for bickering – regardless of gender – is when the elder child is 13 and the second-born is 10 years old.
So what's a mom to do about it?
Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician Dr. Adiaha Franklin of Texas Children's Hospital says, "There is some evidence suggesting that parents should model healthy conflict resolution themselves. Parents should help the girls see each other’s strengths. Provide opportunities for sisters to work cooperatively on family tasks and activities, such as planning family outings and solving problems."
Looking for some examples of "good" sisterly bonding for your little girls? Find movies that highlight sisters working together to have fun adventures.
All things being equal, fighting will happen! Sometimes taking a step back and allowing
your girls to work through their differences is a better option. Intervene if you feel like things might get physical or if you suspect bullying is involved, like any cruel teasing or put-downs.
A woman's relationship with her sister is complex, constantly changing, and to be honest, oftentimes hard to explain, but is it worth it? Completely.
Plus sisterhood teaches girls from a young age to stick together and support each other! That's a great lesson for all girls.