Francine Russo, Parade Contributor
How your brothers and sisters shape your life—long after you’ve stopped sharing a room
What can Maggie, Bart, and Lisa tell us about family dynamics? Click here to find out what the experts say.
Growing up in North Miami Beach, Tobi Cohen Kosanke, now 48, adored her brother Keith. Seven years older, he was a “laid-back surfer dude,” while she was a “chubby, nerdy” little girl. Tobi knew she could never live up to Keith’s cool persona, so while he was quitting school, experimenting with drugs, and focusing on riding the next wave, Tobi threw herself into school, with her brother’s encouragement. The hard work paid off: She went on to earn her Ph.D. and become a geologist. “I hung out with the geeky kids, the good kids, the smart kids, because of my brother,” she says. “I loved Keith, and I know he was proud of me, but I owe my success to taking the road that he didn’t take.”
Tobi’s story is not unusual. Of all the factors that shape your personality—your genes, your parents, your peers—siblings are at the top, according to one major theory of human development. If you think about it, the relationships with your sisters and brothers will likely last longer than any others in your lifetime. Research shows that even in adolescence, you spend 10 to 17 hours a week with them—and experts are finding that their impact continues long after you’ve left the nest. Study after study has shown that the ways you interact with each other growing up can affect your relationships, your happiness, even the way you see yourself throughout the rest of your life.
Article continues here: The Science of Siblings