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It’s science: Having sisters helps you become a better person

“Sisters play a role in promoting positive mental health.”

It’s science: Having sisters helps you become a better person

I am the middle child in a sister-trifecta, so I know all about how sisters can wear on your nerves one minute and feel like your best friend the second. At the end of the day, we were a loving—albeit totally dysfunctional—family, and I’ve learned a lot about the world and myself just by having them in my lives.


That’s not surprising, though: Research shows there are many proven benefits to sisters. (As hard as it may be to believe when she’s “borrowing” your favorite sweater for the 10th time.)

“They help you develop social skills, like communication, compromise and negotiation,” says Alex Jensen, assistant professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University and the author of research into sibling relationships. “Even sibling conflict, if it is minor, can promote healthy development.”

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Here are all the reasons why it’s awesome to have a sister, according to science:

A sister gives you a mental health boost

Need help out of a funk? Call your sister. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Family Psychology showed having a sister can boost your mental health and self-esteem. In particular, researchers from Brigham Young University found sisters help protect their siblings from “feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious and fearful.”

“What we know suggests that sisters play a role in promoting positive mental health,” Jensen tells Motherly, “and later in life they often do more to keep families in contact with one another after the parents pass.”

...and makes you more compassionate

The same Brigham Young University study discovered that having a sister can help you become a kinder, more giving person. That’s because sisters are promoting positive social behaviors such as compassion and altruism when they show love and affection. The strengths of these effects aren’t even replicated with loving parental relationships.

"Even if there is a little bit of fighting, as long as they have affection, the positive will win out," lead study author Laura Padilla-Walker, a professor in BYU’s School of Family Life, said in an interview with ABC News. "If siblings get in a fight, they have to regulate emotions. That's an important skill to learn for later in life."

A sister helps you sharpen those interpersonal skills

Turns out a sister could teach you a lot about conflict-resolution, empathy and how to nurture others. According to Jeffrey Kluger, author of The Sibling Effect, you could learn how to handle tough arguments or diffuse escalating situations by interacting with your “combative” or “physically intimidating” older sister. On the other hand, Kluger says that having a younger sibling who’s insecure or needs guidance can help you become more nurturing and empathetic to others.

...as well as your communications skills

Research has found that brothers who grew up with sisters are better at communicating with women than those who were only children or only have brothers. (This applies the other way around, too.)

“Some research suggests that having a sibling who is a different gender from you can be a real benefit in adolescence,” Jensen tells Motherly. “Many of those sibling pairs become closer during the teen years because they become good sources of information about the opposite sex.”

A sister teaches you to be independent and ambitious

A 2009 survey conducted by British psychologists revealed that people raised with at least one sister were more determined and more independent than those who grew up with just brothers. Speaking to the Daily Mail, study co-author Tony Cassidy of the University of Ulster said, “It is about that intrinsic desire to want to do better every time, to strive towards goals. It certainly seems there is something about the family situation with the number of girls in it that leads to more encouragement to achieve and be independent.”

...and how to achieve balance

That same 2009 survey, which included 571 participants ages 17 to 25, found that sisters can help their siblings reach inner peace. In particular, people with at least one sister were better able to cope with issues in their life and experienced less stress. In turn, they were happier and more optimistic than their counterparts.

Why exactly do sisters—not brothers—help you achieve balance, though? It all has to do with emotional expression, Cassidy told the Daily Mail. Women open up “channels of communication and it becomes a much more expressive situation and that's positive,” he said. “Emotional expression is fundamental to good psychological health and having sisters promotes this in families.”

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

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Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

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Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

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Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

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If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

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Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

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Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

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Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

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Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

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Breast Milk Storage Bags

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The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

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Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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