The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us

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Overview

A provocative and surprising exploration of the longest sustained relationships we have in life—those we have with our siblings.

Nobody affects us as deeply as our brothers and sisters. Our siblings are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales. They teach us how to resolve conflicts and how not to, how to conduct friendships and when to walk away. Our siblings are the only people we know who truly qualify as ...

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The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us

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Overview

A provocative and surprising exploration of the longest sustained relationships we have in life—those we have with our siblings.

Nobody affects us as deeply as our brothers and sisters. Our siblings are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales. They teach us how to resolve conflicts and how not to, how to conduct friendships and when to walk away. Our siblings are the only people we know who truly qualify as partners for life.

In this perceptive and groundbreaking book, Jeffrey Kluger explores the complex world of siblings in equal parts science, psychology, sociology, and memoir. Based on cutting-edge research, he examines birth order, twins, genetic encoding of behavioral traits, emotional disorders and their effects on sibling relationships, and much more. With his signature insight and humor, Kluger takes science’s provocative new ideas about the subject and transforms them into smart, accessible insights that will help everyone understand the importance of siblings in our lives.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book had a profound impact on me that I never could have anticipated. . . . It's a compelling and beautifully written story, interwoven with fascinating, cutting-edge research." —-David Sheff, author of Beautiful Boy
Library Journal
In a July 6, 2006, story, "The New Science of Siblings," Time senior writer Kluger noted that while scientists trying to figure out what really shapes us have hit successively on parents, genes, and peers, they felt that they were missing something. And "more and more, scientists are concluding that this unexplained force is our siblings." Here he expands on his research to show what our longest-lasting relationship means to us. Since we're always digging for personal insights, I'm betting this book will be very popular.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594486111
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/4/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 219,033
  • Product dimensions: 5.49 (w) x 8.19 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Pete Larkin is an AudioFile Earphones Award winner and a 2014 Audie Award finalist. He has worked in virtually all media. He was the public address announcer for the New York Mets from 1988 to 1993, served as host of WNEW-FM's highly rated "Saturday Morning Sixties" program, and has done hundreds of commercials, promos, and narrations.
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Table of Contents

1 Band of Brothers-and Sisters 1

2 Stocking the Team: Siblings in a Growing Family 14

3 The Outbreak of Hostilities: Why Siblings Fight and What to Do About It 35

4 Who's on First? The Mysteries of Birth Order 57

5 The Golden Child: Favoritism and Its Consequences 83

6 Breaking Up: Brothers, Sisters, and Divorce 105

7 Patching Up: The Blended Family 126

8 Misguided Guidance: Drugs, Pregnancy, and Other Risky Behaviors 149

9 Running the Asylum: When Siblings Raise Siblings 168

10 If You Show Me Yours … Sibs, Sex, and Gender 193

11 Paired and Pared: The Curious Worlds of Twins and Singletons 223

12 And On and On … Siblings Through the Years 257

Epilogue 281

Afterword 291

Acknowledgments 301

Index 305

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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

Nobody affects us as deeply as our brothers and sisters do—not our parents, not our children, not our friends. Siblings are our collaborators and co–conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales. They teach us how to resolve conflicts and how not to, how to conduct friendships and when to walk away. Our siblings are the only people we know who truly qualify as partners for life.

In this groundbreaking book, renowned science writer Jeffrey Kluger explores—with insight and humor—the complex world of siblings in ways that are equal parts science, psychology, sociology, and memoir. Based heavily on new and emerging research, The Sibling Effect examines birth order, twin studies, genetic encoding of behavioral traits, emotional disorders and their effects on—and effects from—sibling relationships, and much more.

ABOUT JEFFREY KLUGER

Jeffrey Kluger is a senior editor and writer at Time magazine. He is a co–author of the bestseller Apollo 13, and the author of Simplexity, Splendid Solution, Moon Hunters, and two novels for young adults. He lives in New York City.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • “Our brothers and sisters are with us for the whole journey.” What are the benefits of having someone in your life to share so many of the highs and lows—someone who is not a parent or spouse? Are there any negatives?
     
  • “Parents inevitably wind up playing favorites, and kids, cleverly, learn to game their parents.” Do you find this to be true in your situation? In what ways did (do) you “game” your parents, and how have you been “gamed”? Did your parents play favorites or define a role for you? What was it?
     
  • Did the author’s use of examples from his own sibling relationship history help to humanize the scientific insights shared? How so?
     
  • “Four was about the age at which a child was fully weaned and no longer needed the resource of mom in order to eat. When you’re not competing with your baby sibling you’re less likely to try to hurt it.” Would you agree that this is true? Is four years between siblings the magic number?
  • The author looks to define the roots of conflict among siblings and finds that “close behind property as a trigger for sibling war making is the general concept of fairness.” What were some of the roots for the conflict you experienced with your siblings?
  • Were you the product of “alloparenting” by older siblings, relatives, or close friends? What was this experience like? What experiences did you come away with that you might not otherwise have had with a more “Western” style upbringing?
  • Were you familiar with birth order theory, or even stereotypes, before picking up this book? Which do you question, or think there might be validity to, after reading The Sibling Effect? Do any stereotypes like the firstborn “kin keeper” hold true?
  • What high and low power strategies, like using humor or keeping the status quo, have you seen siblings use to define themselves within a family?
  • What practical parenting advice could one take from this book? For example, being mindful of alliances and keeping the conversation healthy during a divorce, or relocating entirely when merging stepfamilies to keep the territory (and attitudes) neutral.
  • What is the cultural perception of singletons? Should we feel bad for them? Are they lacking in any key experiences, or are there benefits or unexpected perks? What stereotypes are they up against?
  • There are many pleasant benefits associated with twin life, including longer life expectancy and deeper social connectivity. Can you think of any others? If you’re a twin, have you ever experienced the “mind meld”?
  • What do you consider “the sibling effect” to be? In what ways have your early experiences with siblings—or life as a twin or singleton—shaped you?
  • Why did you pick up this book? Did you purchase it for a sibling? Has reading it caused you to look at your relationships any differently, perhaps in a more scientific light? What were the results?
  • How do you think sisters teach brothers about women and how do brothers teach sisters about men? Have you had that experience? If so, what did you find most helpful?
  • What will be some of the repercussions for countries with policies or beliefs that affect the gender balance, like China’s one–child–per–family policy and India’s favoritism for male offspring?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2012

    I was very disappointed in this book. It seemed more like an ex

    I was very disappointed in this book. It seemed more like an extended magazine article, without any real depth or insight. If you've done any reading on the subject, you've probably already read most of what's in this book. I wouldn't recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2012

    Splendid! Highly recommended!

    Extremely well written with much insight into sibling relationships. Fact filled along with many personal stories, some of which are rather entertaining as well. Allows the reader to think deeply about one's own siblings, and also those of one's children, grandchildren, etc., possibly helping you to modify such relationships for the better in the future...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 16, 2013

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    Posted December 17, 2011

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    Posted September 30, 2011

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