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How the Relationship Between Sisters Changes Over Time

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How the Relationship Between Sisters Changes Over Time

Ahhh… sisters!  They can be your best friend, your confidant, your nemesis and lots of things in between! Sisterhood is a complex combination of shared history and independence; a relationship that evolves and changes with time. While each group of sisters will have their own unique story, here are six ways the relationship between sisters often changes over time.

1. They are first friends.

Sisters learn about interacting with other girls from each other. Whether you shared a room or had your own space, as a child your sister knew more about you than any other person on the planet. You could act cool or put on sophisticated airs at school but she knew if you kept candy under the bed or spent your nights mooning over the boy who say in front of you in homeroom. Sisters teach you how to share, how to be compassionate, and how to make up after an argument.

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2. They are rivals.

Sisters are rivals at some or many points in their life. When a second girl enters a family, the first is suddenly cast as the “big sister” with all the expectations that come along with it. They may resent this new bundle of joy and not welcome being a role model and helper for their little sister. Later, rivalries between sisters can be about boys. My sister was three years ahead of me in school. I vividly remember liking a boy who ate lunch at my table and how all he ever wanted to talk about was how amazing my sister was.  I was less than amused and anxious for her to graduate and go to college! Sisters may compete for their parents attention, to get better grades, be more popular. Later, they may compete over their career success or about who is a better mother or has the better children.

3. They are partners in crime.

Remember those summer days when you and your sister would go out in the yard in search of adventure?  The hose fight that seemed so innocent and fun became big trouble when you ended up soaking the clothes mom had hung out to dry! Sisters are the best partners in crime – or just mischievous fun – because they know each other so well. An exchanged glance becomes an elaborate plan to play a trick on a brother, father, or the family dog. Think back to fun antics from your childhood and I bet your sister was right there with you!

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4. They push each other’s buttons.

Sisters have a knack for finding and pushing each other’s buttons. They know just what to say to bring you down or build you up, depending on their mood, and you do too!

5. They grow up together.

Sisters share a special bond. Older sisters model for younger sisters how to act in front of boys, how to use makeup, do their hair, and more. Younger sisters often get to do things sooner than their older siblings as rules and expectations become more relaxed (often because the parents are getting tired)! Sisters share celebrations and heartache. They support each other through each stage of life; the transition from childhood to the teen years to being a young and then aging woman.

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6. They have each others back.

No matter how strained a relationship is between sisters, you will see the family loyalty kick in if you dare say anything bad about a girl’s sister! It’s the “I can bad mouth her because she’s my sister but you sure can’t!” Sisters look out for each other and are there in times of need. That need might be lipstick when out on the town or a shoulder to cry on during a nasty breakup. Big or small, sisters are there for each other.

Having and being a sister is special. It’s a relationship and a bond that you should work at so it stands the test of time. Sisters become the person you can go to who will remember that bad haircut when you were 10 years old or how unreasonable the curfew was in your home growing up. They will celebrate your successes and pick you up and help you through the tough times. You can laugh together and cry together. If you are lucky enough to have a sister – or a few – reach out and tell them how lucky they are to have YOU as a sister!

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Featured photo credit: Tara Reed via flickr.com

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Tara Reed

Tara is the founder of Pivot To Happy, a site with resources for families dealing with a dementia or Alzheimer's diagnosis.

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