Surprising Ways Your Family Affects Your Health

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

“Like father, like son,” as the saying goes, but research indicates that younger siblings are more likely to follow the example their older brothers or sisters set. One study finds that a teenager is five times more likely to be a teen mother if she saw her older sister become one. The likelihood of smoking or drinking also increases 25 to 36 percent, respectively, if an older sibling smoked or drank. This influence holds true across race and economic demographics. However, it also applies to good behavior, but in surprising ways. A researcher from Penn State University says that, in an effort to be unique in our families, we may choose to focus on a path different from a sibling. For example, if a sister is athletically gifted, the brother may turn to music to earn a family identity. Sibling relationships could also affect how we choose to display gender characteristics like aggression, competitiveness or compassion.

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Review Date: 
July 15, 2014

Last Updated:
July 15, 2014