By: Yvette M. Tavares
National Siblings Day is April 10th, and as one of 4 siblings, I began to think about how growing up with brothers and sisters may affect how we form healthy relationships as adults.
Seven years ago, my sister, my two brothers and I, began an annual tradition of spending quality time together during the Holidays, rather than buying and exchanging gifts. Our conversations range from childhood memories, to our trials, tribulations and triumphs of adulthood. And we always torture our server by making her guess our age order!
All torture aside, this tradition, and our sibling bond, have become more meaningful and more powerful than we could have imagined. And we have learned, not only more about each other, but more about ourselves.
Regardless of how many siblings you have, or what your birth order was, or whether you even got along, we can all learn from our childhood sibling relationships to become better adults.
Here are 4 ways you are a better adult because you grew up with siblings:
1. Your siblings were (and still are) your best friends
We all aspire to find our “person”, to marry our best friend and to find someone to grow old with. And if you had healthy relationships with your siblings growing up, you are probably more selective as an adult. You can count your closest friends on one hand. And if you do meet someone new who doesn’t fit the “quality” test, your siblings will probably be the first to let you know.
2. You learned to value your differences
The differences between you and your siblings may have been the root of many childhood arguments and rivalries. But even as a child, you learned that having differences could lead to very positive outcomes. Whether you discovered this in childhood, or needed the confidence and wisdom of adulthood to recognize the value of individuality, you are more empowered and more creative as an adult because of it.
3. You learned to play well with others
Kudos to parents of only children who figured out how to effectively teach this one. For the rest of us, we had to learn to share. We had to learn to choose our battles. We had to learn to survive long car rides without killing one another. We had to learn when to stand up and when to concede. Now fast forward to adulthood, where catchphrases like “teamwork makes the dream work” and “strength-based leadership” may have caused you to throw up in your mouth a little bit. After all, you knew all of this before the third grade.
4. The sibling bond is unbreakable
I saw a quote recently that said “Siblings will pick on you for their own entertainment and then beat up anyone else who tries.” That’s because the sibling bond is even more formidable than the “pièce de résistance” from the LEGO movie. And because you value that bond, you also look for it in your relationships with others.
I recognize that not all families have sibling stories with happy endings. But if you grew up with siblings, and you have taken the time to reflect on how those relationships shaped your childhood, you too are probably a stronger adult because of it.