Friday, 29 October 2010

Improbable research…

I used to like and admire Lucy Mangan's work in the Guardian. What a shame she's fallen for this:

Why sisters are good for you
A new report adds to the evidence that having sisters benefits your mental health.
No matter whether the sister is younger or older, or the age difference between you, they increase wellbeing and even your penchant for doing good deeds in the world – above and beyond that which even loving parents manage to promote.
Most of the reports suggest that it is girls' greater capacity for emotional expression that provides most of the benefits to the family that has them. 
Nonsense. I say this as the brother of four sisters (I have a brother too). Four sisters with very, very quick tempers. Family legend has it that one sister shoved another through a sheet of plate glass for wearing her socks. They didn't speak after that, despite sharing a room for several more years. 'Emotional expression' is all very well when it's soppy lovey-dovey stuff - when it's raging, grudge-holding hatred, perhaps a degree of repression is a positive thing.

Good for my mental health? Not really. I could never keep up with who wasn't speaking to whom in any particular hour. I spent my childhood looking for somewhere quiet to read. Or prematurely ending fractious games by hoiking the ball as far as possible and sloping off. 

I'm the oldest: I got the blame for anything they did, and bore the brunt of classic hardline old-fashioned violent parenting. As each sibling appeared, the parents either wearily gave up or worked out where they'd gone wrong, and relaxed considerably, until the youngest had a life of ease and luxury. Bah! 

Of course, we love each other dearly now. Now, that is, we don't see each other too often!

So today's Friday conundrum: what are the worst, and best, things your siblings ever did for you, and you for them? Do wish you had more or fewer (or any) siblings?


Benjamin Judge said...

Lucy Mangan has been weak for some time now. There are only so many ways you can say "I married a Tory and I like Puffin Books"

As for sisters. I haven't seen the research so I can't really comment on it. My sister is great, one of my best friends and I love her to bits.

Maybe four sisters is just too many.

The Plashing Vole said...

That's true, your sister is great. So are mine really - most of the time.

Emma said...

I have three sisters and one brother. I am the middle child. My brother is the youngest.
I get on great with all of my sisters (and my brother too). I trust all of their advice about careers, relationships etc. I share unique interests with each of them and enjoy differnt activities with each of them too. I wouldn't change them or the amount of them for the world.

Sue's Blog said...

The research about sisters being conducive to mental health is not new.
I only have one sister who is lovely, but it would have been nice to have a few brothers as well.
I can sympathise about being a first born– but according to research first born children can take comfort in the fact that they are more intelligent, and subsequent siblings have lower IQs – Ha Ha