“Having a Sister Makes You Happier”: that was the headline on a recent article about a study finding that adolescents who have a sister are less likely to report such feelings as “I am unhappy, sad or depressed” and “I feel like no one loves me.”
These findings are no fluke; other studies have come to similar conclusions. But why would having a sister make you happier?
The whole article is interesting, because it undercuts the idea that sisters are emotionally beneficial because they talk about feelings; rather, the author argues that sisters are emotionally beneficial because sisters talk more, generally, and it’s that act of ongoing communication that creates intimacy and happiness.
Anecdotally, that seems about right to me. I have one sister who is my favorite person in the world, and the person I feel closest to — but when we talk, we don’t usually delve into our feelings, because neither of us are big “feelings-talk” people. We joke around. We tell each other amusing anecdotes. We email each other funny links. But we communicate often. And we travel together at least once a year (and when we do, we basically want to do the same things and stick to the same schedule, which works out well). And we go back to Seattle, where we’re from, together at least once a year, and we spend Thanksgiving and Christmas together, and we meet up a few more times a year on the East Coast just for fun. That time spent, and that communication, lends itself well to closeness.
I don’t have a brother, so I can’t compare that relationship to my relationship with my sister. But what we have? I can’t imagine something better.