Your sibling can determine how kind and empathetic you are a new study has found. It seems there may be more benefits to having a brother or sister than just raiding their toy stash or their wardrobe. The Canadian study found children whose brothers and sisters are kind, warm, and supportive; grow up to be more empathetic than children whose siblings lack those characteristics. We tend to focus on the influence adults have on our kids rather than their brothers and sisters.
Even younger siblings can positively influence each other’s empathic concern over time. Of course what the academic study did not address was what if your kids want to kill each other some days and make The Hunger Games look like child’s play? My kids fight over the same toy. My kids fight over the remote control. My kids fight over who can get in the bath first. My kids fight over who is the boss. I have a girl and 2 younger boys.
I foolishly thought before I had my boys that we would dress up in velvet blazers and sit around having high tea and playing board games most weekends before doing a spot of craft and painting. I really did! They would also love fashion and just adore hanging out with their mum. My boys could not care about fashion. They think a tartan flannelette shirt is just fine matched with Hawaiian board shorts and gumboots. They are of course most happy when they are nude. Or covered in dirt or mud.
It is pretty hard to beat a toddler’s bare backside in the cute stakes. And as for how my boys spend their spare time, well, their ‘happy space’ is hitting each other with anything from the kitchen broom to sticks they find in the garden. I have never ‘taught’ them to wrestle or play or basically try to injure each other in every way known to mankind. They also love each other unconditionally and I tell them every day to look after each other and to look out for each other, as family is all that matters.
But still, craft time ends in a paint fight or a pipe cleaner up someone’s nose. Literally. I once had to take one boy to the doctors to remove a stuck pipe cleaner. That was a proud parenting moment. My boys do love their over protective and highly neurotic mother very much, but they ADORE their father. Which is very frustrating and annoying to such a needy person as myself.
The 3 of them spend hours playing cars or watching silly movies about super heroes. And do not get me started on their constant eruption of giggles when one of them burps or does an even more offensive botty blurt! They could also favour their father because whenever the boys come anywhere near me I cover them in kisses and tell them repeatedly how much I love them and tell them they must live with Mummy forever and ever. Even when they are married and have their own children they are still not allowed to leave me. Ever. Too much, you say?
But this new study is interesting about what brothers and sisters are teaching each other as they all grow up in these golden glorious days of chaos. Looking back at my childhood, my gorgeous big brother pretty much taught me to drink rum and smoke secret cigarettes on our rooftop. He also landed me in hospital numerous times thanks to our rough play including the time he threw a brick at my head in the pool during a game of brandy. I did not turn out a serial killer. And my brother loves me fiercely. There is no love quite like the protective love of a big brother. No matter what your age. You just have to survive your childhood with them and avoid pipe cleaners.