Patrick Brothwell opens up about what growing up with a kid sister has taught him.
Once upon a time I used to go out for dinner and drinks with my friends, and we would talk about music and sex and who was the most embarrassingly drunk the last time we all saw each other. Those things definitely still merit discussion, but just this weekend when visiting with my brother and some friends in Pittsburgh, the dinner conversation was about whether or not we’d rather have boy or girl children.
Among this group of guys, the general consensus was that they would rather their firstborn be a son. I agreed for the most part. While I don’t see it happening anytime in the near future, it would be fun to have your own mini-me to bond with and mold and relive your youth with and impress with your stories (Or am I describing the worst dad ever?). I did add that in an ideal world I’d like boys and girls. I think I’d prefer more boys though.
I’ve always had the impression that growing up with members of both sexes was a positive thing. I have one of each, a twin brother named Shawn and a younger sister named Katelyn.
Katelyn’s three years younger than us, and I guess Shawn and I were real dicks when we were toddlers about not playing with her and leaving her out because we found her annoying (in our defense, she always stole the bottom block from the towers we’d spent hours crafting). Since then I like to think that the three of us have a healthy and harmonious (as harmonious as siblings get) relationship. We generally like spending time with one another and while the majority of our frequent texts are inconsequential and consist largely of throwing Stepbrothers quotes back and forth, I know that if I do actually need to get advice or something off my chest they’re there.
For me at least, having a sister has been a positive experience and our relationship has taught me a lot about being a guy. This relationship is the main reason I’d someday like to have a mix of sons and daughters and feel somewhat bad for anyone who didn’t grow up with a female sibling.
To make this a topical matter, I’m currently teaching how to craft a well-written argument and try stressing to the students that the strongest arguments have multiple points to back them up. Here are the top things I’ve learned by having a sister.
- Girls can be just as disgusting as guys. I’m going to get this one out of the way quick, and I realize that she’ll be steaming but I can’t overlook it. If you grow up with a younger sister you realize at a young age that girls do have the same bodily functions as guys. Now this doesn’t mean I want to date a girl whose norm is farting in public but I’m aware that it happens and won’t freak out over it. I also have no issues purchasing feminine hygiene products and realize that just because they are the fairer sex doesn’t mean they are the cleaner sex. It’s given me a realistic view on girls. I’m going to stop before I get in trouble.
- I care about both my siblings tremendously, but having a younger sister has made me care and feel protective about someone in a way that just wouldn’t be possible (or healthy) for a brother/brother relationship. In general I’m not an uber-macho dude or confrontational guy, but I have to admit that when my sister one time admitted that a love interest was intimidated it felt good and frankly if someone touching or groping or treating my sister inappropriately is the only viable reason I could think of for punching a stranger (or acquaintance, I won’t discriminate) unprovoked. It’s not that I automatically act like a dick to anyone my sister talks to (ok, it’s happened) I just feel like I’m there, so I might as well look after her. It’s evolved past the old fashioned I don’t like any guy I have an inkling might want to sleep with her, it’s more like you just don’t want this guy to make your sister feel like shit in any capacity. You want them to respect her and make her feel good and be upfront and honest with her. I don’t have any allusions about my sister being a chaste princess who should only date guys who treat her thusly. I do believe that she needs someone who cares for her completely and always has her best interests at heart. I also know she’s smart and can handle herself but just in case something goes awry I’m always a willing buffer. It’s weirdly paternal and in a way I think will someday help me be a decent dad and husband.
- I recently read a headline that claimed guys with sisters are more likely to be conservative in regards to a woman’s right to choose. I’m not sure I believe this. I feel like having a sister has given me a healthy respect for female sexual choices. I want my sister to do what she wants and know I can’t stop her. What I always feel and have tried to impress upon her is that whatever choices she make are hers. I want her to make out with a stranger in a bar because she felt like making out with a stranger in a bar, NOT because she thought it’d make someone like her. They should like her because she’s cool. I don’t expect her to be a nun, I just don’t want to know if she isn’t.
- I feel like she’s hopefully helped me to treat other girls with respect. Every girl could have a potential brother out there too, right?
- I feel like it has taught me to have healthy female friendships. I don’t hear it a lot but once in a while you do hear some guy say that girls are only good for one thing. I could always counter that my early relationship with my sister and my female cousins has always made me aware that girls could be smart and funny and fun to be around without any ulterior motives.
Unfortunately it’s never made me learn to keep the toilet seat down. This always pisses off female friends who’ll yell ”Come on, you had a sister.” But the three of us shared a bathroom, and with 2 to 1 ratio it stayed up.