In one of his famous works, "A Child's Christmas in Wales," poet Dylan Thomas wrote, “It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.”
It is a perfect description of the complex relationship between siblings.
People and friends come in and out of our lives, but the bond we have with a sibling is like no other.
As children, you may have fought or tormented each other mercilessly. Then, one day (and I promise it will seem like it's out of nowhere), you suddenly realize they're the best friend you've ever had. Here's why:
1. They were there for all of your important life events.
Remember learning to ride a bike? Or that big exam you failed? What about your graduation or getting your driving license? And the first time you fell in love or had your heart broken?
Those events form powerful memories attached to emotions, all of which your siblings are a part of. They're often your first friend and your best friend.
In fact, research states the intimate knowledge that siblings have of one another, as well as the emotional intensity of the relationship, means that siblings have the potential to have a significant impact on one another's development and wellbeing.
2. They are the only ones allowed to annoy or upset you.
You bickered over who should get the front seat, what to watch on the television and what you wanted for dinner. They may have teased you or pestered you relentlessly – even to the point of making you cry.
But the moment anyone else hurt you or made you cry, they were ready to turn up at that person's class or stake out their house. Siblings are fiercely protective and they will never let anyone get away with messing with you.
3. They were the ones you got into the most trouble with.
Those dreaded words, “Go to your room” or “You're grounded,” take another turn when you have a sibling. Yes, you were caught doing something wrong and ultimately paid the price.
What your parents didn't realize, however, was that it wasn't actually that bad – especially if you shared a room or had rooms next to each other. It gave you more time together to giggle about the trouble you got into and find other ways to entertain yourselves.
Under the surface, experiences such as these were some of the foundations that molded your ability to feel love, loyalty, companionship, forgiveness and empathy.
4. They share a lot of the same stories as you.
Remember that time your mom burned the turkey for Christmas? And the grumpy old man who worked at the local corner shop? Or the catchphrase of that TV show your whole family watched every Sunday night before you had to go to bed for school the next day?
These are the stories you tell over and over again – not just to each other, but to new people in your lives. And, no, you never get tired of hearing those stories.
5. They have your back, no matter what.
Many psychologists have described how siblings serve as companions, confidants and role models in childhood and adolescence, and as sources of support throughout adulthood.
Despite the ups and downs, you know that if you needed anything, they would be one of the few people who would go out of their way help you. Even if you called them at midnight, they would be there.
Irrespective of your differences or disagreements, the gift of having a sibling is a unique connection whose depth you may never experience with anyone else.
The writer, James Boswell, summed it up perfectly when he said, “I, who have no sisters or brothers, look with some degree of innocent envy on those who may be said to be born to friends.”