Saturday, July 08, 2006

Siblings and Socialization

A mother once complemented my 15 year old son on how polite and caring he seemed to be. She then asked me, "What do I have to do to have a son like that?" I grinned, "Have a baby at 40." She quickly responded, "No thanks! I'll keep my kid the way he is."

Siblings do have an effect on their brothers and sisters, don't they? Whether their 13 years apart or 13 months, siblings help shape who we are. It's not always a postive effect either. But we have to learn to love them because we just can't leave them.

A recent issue of Time Magazine looked at the impact of siblings in our lives. It seems the researchers are discovering how important these relationships really are.

"Siblings have a socializing effect on one another," says psychologist Daniel Shaw of the University of Pittsburgh. "When you tease out all the other variables, it's the play styles that make the difference. Unlike a relationship with friends, you're stuck with your sibs. You learn to negotiate things day to day." It's that permanence, researchers believe, that makes siblings so valuable a rehearsal tool for later life.
As Ann V. said to me in an email about this story, "Sounds to me like big homeschooling families, together all day long, all year long, should then be socialized the best? " It sure does Ann, but don't count on the "experts" to cancel school so that children can be properly socialized any time soon!

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