'We are family'
Have you ever listened to Sister Sledge's 'We are family'? Well, if you were already around to consciously experience the late 70s and early 80s (or have ever been to an 80s revival party), then I'm sure you have. Now, if Sister Sledge did indeed - as the lyrics continue - have 'All my sisters with me', she must have been one happy and balanced lady, according to recent research from Ireland.
The scientists from the University of Ulster and De Montfort University, both in the United Kingdom, studied 571 subjects between 17 and 25. Some were an only child, others had only sisters or brothers, and some both. The (maybe not so surprising) result: people who grow up with sisters are considerably happier and more optimistic. 'Sisters appear to encourage more open communication and cohesion in families,' says the University of Ulster's Professor Tony Cassidy.
Beware of brothers, though. 'Brothers seemed to have the alternative effect,' he goes on to say, adding that boys tended to bottle up there emotions, thereby also discouraging others from sharing them. 'Emotional expression is fundamental to good psychological health and having sisters promotes this in families. This is important information for those working with families and children.'
Even if there were, say, four brothers and only one sister, other family members coped better with emotionally challenging situations than those with only 'a band of brothers'.
So, the next time you see your sister, give her a big hug and thank her for making you such a balanced and content person. If you've only got a brother, though… Sorry, tough luck! But how about making him pay for your therapy sessions?