These Ties that Bind : Sibling Love!

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Ties that bind DNA

If ‘friends are the family we choose’, then ‘A brother is a gift from Nature’. No matter how much time we spend with our colleagues or buddies in social circles; one always has a special place for siblings! Whether they are maternal or paternal, distant or close – belonging to the same bloodline, sharing the same legacy has it’s own unique magnetic pull. You are friends before you were born, you can easily rely on them, trust and loyalty comes naturally – after all you share the same genes!

Each one of us has read a book (Fred and George Weasley from Harry Potter) or seen a movie (Hansel and Gretel) or a Facebook post about sibling bonding. All natural and fictional phenomena across the world bow down and are inspired by this unique relationship – so does the dynamically changing field of Genetics. We went through some pros and cons of having siblings and have pointed out some cool genetic facts for you 🙂

The Good Bits

Children spend more time with their siblings:  It’s true and can be vouched for by many families. Children share a special bond and level of understanding. As they grow older, or even from childhood they prefer the company of their brothers and sisters. There is no judgement or routine to follow – it’s just pure fun. This bond strengthens with time and is never usually replaced by anyone. It’s quite aptly described in the quote  below –

“To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.” – Clara Ortega

Having a sibling helps immensely with social interactions: Training begins from the same schools, birthday parties, family weddings, college festivals and a lot more events! After attending all that, one can definitely master the courage and confidence to speak up in a public place, professional environment or at work. Socialising comes naturally as conversations flow easily.  You may NOT worry about their opinion of you anymore. A particular study revealed that those with older siblings of the opposite sex were were likely to strike up a conversation and smile, giving them a marked advantage on the dating scene! 😉

Firstborns are always around to guide you! As unfair as it may be, siblings who are born first tend to have a substantial academic advantage. They have been noted to outperform their younger siblings. However, the older siblings spend time teaching and guiding the younger ones, thereby reinforcing their own understanding of concepts and ideas. They are the the first to come to rescue, to be drawn up for comparison, to be hated yet adored. Their experiences are still a lesson and one way or another, they will make you learn from them!

Individuality develops due to interaction with siblings. All those fights with your siblings make you – who you are as a person! Skills children learn in conflict resolution with siblings can carry over into other areas of life, making us better or worse at forming romantic relationships, working with others or having lasting friendships. Your character is further nurtured and you get to Know Yourself more. Are you a fighter? Are you calm under pressure? Do you like playing/staying in a crowd? Do you need peace of mind to study or write?  A life filled with siblings answers these more quickly than expected and prepares us for the road ahead!

The not so Good Bits 🙁

Parent Preference: There aren’t many disadvantages to having a brother or sister around. However,   talk to most siblings and they’ll tell you in a heartbeat who they believe their parents prefer. While most parents completely deny having a favorite child, studies have proven them false at times. Many, if not most parents have a favorite and kids are well aware of it. Research has shown that many non-favored siblings use this situation to their own advantage, but that it can be damaging in the long run to their self-esteem and confidence.

Bad Habits Seek Company: For instance, if you have an older sibling who drinks, you’re twice as likely to drink. With smoking the numbers are four times as likely. Yet it isn’t a given that siblings will follow in each other’s less-than-stellar footsteps. The closer siblings are in age, the more likely a younger sibling is to emulate the older. Researchers think this may be because the siblings are belong to a similar age group, hence they can relate to the curiosity, thrill for adventure, rebellious nature or just peer pressure at times.

The Genes WOW Bits:

The Shield Effect : One sibling could theoretically be protecting  another from getting all the traits of a certain condition that may affect the parents. Cases have been seen in Breast cancer, Diabetes, Cardio-related risks, where only one child gets affected and the other stays safe.In sex-linked disorders (X/Y) the gender of the sibling is also a determining factor.

The Twin-Gene Law : ‘If a pair of identical male twins marry a pair of identical female twins, their children will legally be cousins but genetically be full siblings’. A wedding further in this household would make it difficult to identify one child from the other! (add image)

Twins in womb

Some siblings start interacting really early. Womb Whisper : Depicted Above!

The ties are outside the grasp of time. They just grow stronger, hold tighter and simply bind… Genetically special or not, some relations are truly fascinating! This Rakhi, Mapmygenome feels inspired by this unique bond and wishes all the siblings a brilliant year ahead!

May you all stay  entwined to each other  like your DNA 🙂


About the author

Dr. Pallavi Jain is part of the Scientific Team at Mapmygenome. She has a Bachelors Degree in Biochemistry with Genetics and a PhD in Molecular Medicine (UK). She recently completed an intensive course in IVF from Origio, Mumbai. She enjoys swimming and reading.

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