Book 43 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from May 04 - 19
The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us by Jeffrey Kluger
Summary (via Goodreads)
This book explores what scientists and researchers are discovering about sibling bonds. It examines birth order, ongoing twin studies, genetic encoding of behavioral traits, how emotional disorders can affect and be affected by sibling relationships, and more.
I thought Daniel Shaw had a great analogy on family dynamics: "In most households parents serve the same big-picture role as doctors on grand rounds. Siblings are like the nurses on the ward; they're there every day."
What made this book different from others I've read is that it acknowledged and talked about birth order studies but didn't treat them as the "end-all, be-all" factor. The book covered many other contributing factors and perspectives I hadn't read about before.
For example, I loved the perspective on favored children. Even if Mom and Dad have a "favorite" child (as much as they will swear they don't), it could change from activity to activity. Dad could favor one child when it comes time to go to a sporting event but when at home will consider that child too hyper to talk to and turn to another child for deep conversations. It becomes a problem if a child never feels favored in any area but it's okay to prefer one over the other based on the activity as long as everyone ends up with something special to share with Mom and Dad.
We had our kids close together (Katie followed 17 months later by Alie, followed 19 months later by Brian, followed 13 months later by Megan) so I took heart in the opinion that siblings close together in age are a great support to each other in difficult times because they're around the same development for processing emotions and can understand and empathize with each other well.
I loved this phrase, "Modern families have become more mosaic than portrait..."
The last half of the book, which was mostly stats and studies, dragged for me.
This is a major truth I have seen time and time again. "No matter the gender, era, or temperaments of any adult sibling group, nothing will test their relationships quite as much as the challenge of tending to aging parents." Parents can help by speaking about their wishes and getting their affairs in order ahead of time.
A Few Quotes from the Book
"From the time we're born, our brothers and sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and our cautionary tales."
"The long march of years brothers and sisters usually get to share is both a gift and an inevitable source of melancholy. You are together as your family of origin buds and grows. You are together as it matures. And you are together, too, as it decays and declines. You experience the same things, even if not always in the same ways. "Siblings," says Katherine Conger, "are like our memory banks.""