We Are The Lucky Ones

Siblings by Dasilva

Question: Who’s lucky?

Answer: Anyone who is a sibling.

The premise here is that you’re one lucky person if you have one or some siblings in your life. So, do you count your blessings? It’s not too late to appreciate your good fortune.

Of course, this is just my opinion and my experience speaking.

For some other thoughts about siblings, I’ve included some references to a couple of interesting articles and excerpts on this topic.

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Siblings by the US Army

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NPR had this segment called: Your Adult Siblings May Be The Secret To A Long, Happy Life. (Selected excerpts below).

When psychologists study siblings, they usually study children, emphasizing sibling rivalry and the fact that brothers and sisters refine their social maneuvering skills on one another. The adult sibling relationship has only sporadically been the subject of attention. Yet we’re tethered to our brothers and sisters as adults far longer than we are as children; our sibling relationships, in fact, are the longest-lasting family ties we have.

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They learn from the friction between them, too, as they fight for their parents’ attention. Mild conflict between brothers and sisters teaches them how to interact with peers, co-workers and friends for the rest of their lives.

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The benefits can carry into old age. The literature on sibling relationships shows that during middle age and old age, indicators of well-being — mood, health, morale, stress, depression, loneliness, life satisfaction — are tied to how you feel about your brothers and sisters.

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Siblings by Jayaprakash

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And this op-ed piece was published in the NY Times: The Gift of Siblings. (Selected excerpts below).

“Siblings are the only relatives, and perhaps the only people you’ll ever know, who are with you through the entire arc of your life”, the writer Jeffrey Kluger observed to Salon in 2011, the year his book “The Sibling Effect” was published. “Your parents leave you too soon and your kids and spouse come along late, but your siblings know you when you are in your most inchoate form”.

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They’re less tailored fits than friends are. But in a family that’s succeeded at closeness, they’re more natural, better harbors. As Colt observed of his siblings, and it’s true of mine as well, they aren’t people he would have likely made an effort to know or spend time with if he’d met them at school, say, or at work. And yet a reunion with them thrills him more than a reunion with friends, who don’t make him feel that he’s “a part of a larger quilt,” he said. His brother do.

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Siblings Kennedy

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There’s also an interesting OSU paper on the topic: Adult Sibling Relationships. (Selected excerpts below).

One researcher, Gold (1989 as cited in Cicirelli, 1995), described five types of sibling relationships based on their involvement with each other. They included “the intimate, the congenial, the loyal, the apathetic, and the hostile” (p. 59).

Intimate siblings are especially close and extremely devoted. They value their relationship above all others. Congenial siblings are friends. They are close and caring but place a higher value on their marriage and parent-child relationships. Loyal siblings base their relationship on their common family history. They maintain regular, periodic contact, participate in family gatherings, and support each other during times of crisis. Apathetic siblings feel indifferent toward each other. They rarely are in contact. Hostile sibling relationships are based on anger, resentment, and very negative feelings.

In Gold’s sample, 14 percent of sibling relationships were intimate, 30 percent loyal, 34 percent congenial, 11 percent apathetic, and 11 percent hostile. 

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Siblings by Waddington

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Siblings, like people, come in all shapes and sizes.

I count myself as one of the very lucky ones. I have just one brother who I love dearly. I realize that my life would be quite empty without this relationship.  [For those without any natural siblings, I feel sure you can adopt a close friend or relative to play the part so don’t be too gloomy].

And yet people do such stupid things to destroy these precious sibling relationships – usually and unfortunately in the name of inheritance. We see and hear about these situations all too often.  

The destructive behavior is usually influenced by other close relatives,  sometimes spouses, other times their own children and still other times their in laws.

So dumb! They inevitably end up paying a big price for it. 

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siblings old picture

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Although my brother and I went off in different directions during childhood – different schools in different locations – there was never a time when I did not feel close to him and utterly glad that he was there, somewhere, watching over his younger sister. During adulthood, our bonds have only strengthened, helped by the fact that we both eventually migrated West.

For some strange reason, when we look at siblings, we tend to notice differences more than similarities. Isn’t it weird how sibling comparisons are so inevitable? And then it’s as if similarities should be expected and par for the course because similar genes dictate that. And differences are somehow fascinating and to be examined. Strange, given how unique each of us is.

There is a world of difference between my brother and I,  but that only makes me appreciate him more. To top it off, my sis-in-law is an angel.

Me, lucky? Yep! Counting my blessings? You betcha.

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Siblings by Knipe

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It begs the question (to me at least) – what on earth can come between us ever, that we cannot overcome? I’ve thought about this because I’ve seen so many messes around. And I will tell you what. Absolutely nothing. And the reason I’m so confident is because I believe that this outcome is totally in my control. This is not a result. It’s a choice.

And for all those poor souls who don’t feel the same way, who can blame others or credit the circumstances for breaking that sibling bond or have to deal with “bad eggs”, not only have you forfeited (or been forced to forfeit) a relationship that is precious (a gift!), you deserve all the sympathy you can get. You’re missing out on something great.

I don’t believe anything I have said about siblings is  breaking news. I do believe that many of us don’t appreciate our sibling(s) mindfully enough, often enough. Yet, we truly are the lucky ones.

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Siblings by Wileveranfne

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And finally, as I look ahead, I hope for nothing more than that strong bond continuing for my own kids as their grow and live their varied lives – may you each have the good sense to always appreciate and count your lucky stars for your siblings!

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Siblings by Sund

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“My siblings have certainly seen me at my worst, and I’ve seen them at theirs. No one has bolted. It’s as if we signed some contract long ago, before we were even aware of what we were getting into, and over time gained the wisdom to see that we hadn’t been duped. We’d been graced: with a center of gravity; with an audience that never averts its gaze and doesn’t stint on applause. For each of us, a new home, a new relationship or a newborn was never quite real until the rest of us had been ushered in to the front row”.

 Excerpt from The Gift of Siblings, NY Times

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Photo Credits:

All pictures of siblings of varied shapes and sizes from different time periods, sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

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Posted on February 28, 2015, in friends, people, youth and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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