Up until I was about 10 years old, my older sister could be a terrifying presence. She used to completely own me in sibling squabbles.
When I was really small, my grandpa used to jokingly warn her, "You better stop beating on him like that because one day he'll be bigger than you!"
To be fair to my sister, I typically deserved the sometimes-harsh justice she enacted as I was an annoying pest of a little brother, aka a complete pain in the ass.
At a certain point, she did stop. It's either because she matured or because, as my grandpa foresaw, I grew up (she'd definitely argue it was the former).
Today, my sister and I have a fantastic relationship, and I'd like to think those early years helped me generate a very healthy respect for women.
While the noogies and wedgies were not appreciated at the time, they definitely helped me build character in the long run.
In all seriousness, I couldn't imagine my life without my big sister. She's taught me more than she can possibly know and has had a tremendously positive influence on my life and perspectives.
And I'm not alone. There's a slew of research revealing there are a number of benefits to growing up with sisters.
For example, research has shown that men with sisters are typically far more emotionally secure. Concurrently, there's evidence women with sisters are decidedly more confident in social settings.
For both sexes, there's evidence having sisters is great for your overall mental health and helps generate a kinder disposition in the long run.
Psychologists at the University of Ulster measured the emotional well-being of 571 people between the ages of 17 and 25.
They found individuals who grew up with at least one sister were happier, better adjusted to the challenges of life and less anxious.
It seems this is all a consequence of the fact sisters help foster communication and generally make their siblings more comfortable with their emotions.
In turn, people with sisters are ultimately more independent and have clearer life goals.
According to Tony Cassidy, one of the researchers involved in the study:
Our explanation for it is that the presence of girls opens up channels of communication and it becomes a much more expressive situation and that's positive. Emotional expression is fundamental to good psychological health and having sisters promotes this in families.
Similarly, a study from Brigham Young University found sisters help us combat negative emotions, like loneliness, guilt, feeling unloved, fear and insecurity.
The research also revealed experiencing affection from a sister made individuals far more generous and altruistic later in life.
As Laura Padilla-Walker, lead author of the study, puts it:
Just having a sister led to less depression.
In other words, having a sister leads to greater satisfaction in life.
This is probably because sisters often play the role of sibling therapists. They're easy to confide in and become trusted advisors during adolescence and continues into adulthood.
Simply put, sisters are natural confidants and lifelong best friends. When everyone and everything else lets you down, your sister will be there for you.
So if you do have a sister (or sisters), call her up, tell her you love her, give her a big hug next time you see her, and recognize a lot of your best qualities are likely a product of her influence.
All of the epic childhood battles were totally worth it.
Citations: Why Having a Sister Makes You a Kinder Person (ABC News), The Unbreakable Bond Siblings Lasting Impressions Explained By Science (Huffington Post), Adult Sibling Relationships (OSU), Divorce risk lower if you have siblings Ohio State study finds (The Columbus Dispatch), Why we can never escape our siblings (Salon), Why having a sister makes you happier and helps families bond (Daily Mail UK)