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Why Having a Sister is the Best, According to Science

Two little girl laying in bed and looking at camera.

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When I was two-and-a-half years old, my little sister was born. From the moment she came home from the hospital, she became “my baby.” When she would cry, I would run to my mom and inform her that “my baby” was hungry. As we grew, my sister became my best friend. We would play house and dolls and school together. We would make each other laugh hysterically in the back seat of the car during road trips. I would terrorize her with ghost stories and she would annoy me with her whining. As teenagers, we were each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Sure, we had our fights like all siblings do. But she and… Read More

When I was two-and-a-half years old, my little sister was born. From the moment she came home from the hospital, she became “my baby.” When she would cry, I would run to my mom and inform her that “my baby” was hungry. As we grew, my sister became my best friend. We would play house and dolls and school together. We would make each other laugh hysterically in the back seat of the car during road trips. I would terrorize her with ghost stories and she would annoy me with her whining. As teenagers, we were each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Sure, we had our fights like all siblings do. But she and I have always been close and I have always been grateful for her.

Science Says Having a Sister is Good for Your Mental Health

A 2010 Brigham Young University study shows that having a sister is actually good for your mental health, it turns out. According to the study, having a sister protects teens from feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious, and fearful. I remember the painful teen years vividly. I was shy and awkward, but also smart, and didn’t take crap from anyone. It made me a bit of a loner. Having my sister always in my corner made me feel that, no matter what anyone else thought, at least I had someone I could talk to. When I was a senior and my sister was a freshman, I remember being in typing class with her and it was the best class of my whole high school career. She made things easier, by simply being there.

Being Close to Your Sibling As Adults Affects Your Well-Being

It makes sense that children and young adults would consider their sibling a best friend. But that friendship doesn’t stop there for a lot of people. One study showed that almost two-thirds of adults consider their siblings one of their best friends. In fact, the literature on sibling relationships shows that during middle age and old age, your well-being, including your mood, health, morale, stress, depression, loneliness, and life satisfaction, is tied to how you feel about your brothers and sisters. For Americans who are living longer now than previous generations, your sibling may be your longest lasting relationship. The quality of that relationship, naturally, will impact your well-being longer than you think.

She Has Been There For The Best, And The Worst, Of It All

I have always known how special it was to have a sister in my life. But nothing has made me appreciate my sister more than becoming an adult with her. My sister was by my side on the day I married my amazing husband. She laughed and cried with me throughout my special day. My sister was one of the first to be by my side after the births of my two children. She gladly took turns soothing and cuddling my colicky newborns so that I could get some much-needed rest those first several months.

My sister was again by my side when I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my husband in 2017. She held me as I fell apart in her arms. She stayed with me for days to make sure I wasn’t alone. When I moved to be closer to her after he died, she “broke” into my new place to make sure I had a welcome basket to greet me.

Now, I live four blocks from my sister. Even now, she is by my side as I navigate the dating world as a middle-aged, single mom. She has held me, yet again, as I suffered my first dating heartbreak. Even though she is just as busy and frazzled with her own two kids as I am, she checks in on me and lets me know she’s there when I need her. She is a presence of comfort and love when I need it most. And she feeds me wine (or tequila on occasion) when she knows I just need a drink. Sisters are smart like that.

My Sister Makes Me a Better Person

I know that she and I will continue to support each other throughout our lives. She and I will continue to uplift one another, comfort one another, and hold the other up when one of us can’t stand on our own two feet. We will inevitably suffer loss again together as we all age and begin to lose our loved ones. We will also experience joy as we watch our children go out into the world and make amazing lives for themselves. My sister has been, and always will be, one of my most important and significant relationships. She helps to make me who I am, and she encourages me to be better every day.

Even if science didn’t say it, I know that sisters can be a light in a dark place or a shelter in a storm. Even if there were no studies to prove it, those of us with sisters would emphatically agree that we don’t know where we would be without our sister. I am glad that science is here to tell us all of these things. But honestly, we who have sisters feel like science is a little late to this party. We’ve known that sisters are the best for a while now, but thanks for confirming it!