Brothers. Their crude jokes, late-night forays into the fridge, and dirty laundry piling up around the house might make us want to wash our hands of them in despair, but cultivating strong bonds with your brothers yields plenty of lifelong perks. Science even agrees: a 2013 study at Penn State University found that sibling relationships in general help children have better self-control, social skills, and academic performance. Another study reported that women with brothers tend to find it easier to have quality conversations with men that they meet for the first time.
All sorts of male figures will go in and out of our lives—acquaintances, coworkers, boyfriends—but for better or for worse, our brothers will always be there. And there are just some essential lessons a brother can teach you that even your closest girlfriends cannot.
01. Survival of the Fittest
The first one to the fridge gets the leftover dessert. Of the many life lessons our male siblings teach us, this just might be one of the most crucial: Our cake-snatching reflexes are sharper than ever thanks to our brothers. This practical skill comes in handy anywhere, from the dorm to the office kitchen.
02. Other-Centered Conversation
We may not share our brother’s enthusiasm for new fishing gear or keeping up with the latest NFL player stats, but talking to them about their personal passions and projects makes for some quality bonding time. It’s taught us firsthand that the key to solid relationships is to forget yourself in conversation and show interest in others’ passions.
Our brothers are often our first window into the minds of men, which can be a very confusing and sometimes off-putting place. Challenging ourselves to take a walk in our brother’s shoes (as big and cumbersome as they are), is an excellent way to practice empathy. Trying to understand where our brothers are coming from, especially in their most difficult moments, is great training ground for relating to others in the outside world.
04. Important Life Skills
Brothers often know about skills that, let’s be honest, you’re probably not going to learn from hanging out with your sisters. Sexist or not, the essentials of bonfire-building, throwing a football with proper spin, and blocking an oncoming tackle are pretty useful. And we all want to be more well-rounded, right?
05. Sports Knowledge
We women are certainly capable of understanding and appreciating sports on our own. However, seeing as you’re more likely to find the fantasy football draft crowded with the guys in your office, growing up with brothers means that you’ll have a cool fact or two to throw out around the water cooler, thanks to all the random sports knowledge your brothers have imparted over the years.
06. A Male Perspective
It’s nice to have siblings who help me see into the male mind. If I feel frustrated or bewildered over something that a guy friend or a date has said or done, it helps to have my brothers put some perspective on it. They’re the perfect people to give answers to those, “Why do men…?” questions.
07. The Ability to Laugh at Yourself
Our brothers are often the first ones to point out our slip-ups (which is definitely annoying), but that also reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. Life is too short not to approach it with a sense of humor! At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what my brothers would tell you.
My own brothers’ friendship is something that I can’t place a value on. Life with them hasn’t always been a bed of roses, but even through all the teasing, bickering, and debating we come out on the other side all the more close. I know that I can depend on them through thick and thin, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.