A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

18 Things I Learned From My Sister

Family is great, but there's something especially special about having a sister. Whether it's learning about love, sharing, giving, or even just how to crack a joke—there's no better way to learn life's most important lessons than with a sister by your side, so we rounded up some of the most inspiring sisterly lessons.

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Years of sisterly tormenting aside, they’re always there to save you

“We always tormented my youngest sister by telling her she was adopted. I am the oldest of five girls. Thankfully she wasn’t really adopted because she turned out to be a complete match when I needed a bone marrow transplant nine years ago. Really, a 100 percent match.” —Becky Winchip Sternglass

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Privacy is a fantasy, so let go of that idea

“Nothing is private! I have four sisters we are all up in each other’s business.” —Stephanie Sigalit Simckes (Here are the best movies about sisters to watch this weekend.)

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Protective instincts are priceless

“I learned how to be protective from having a little sister. As a mom of five, I’m a total mama bear over my kids. I started to learn this mama bear lesson early on in life with a little sister. I loved looking out for her and I always wanted her to know that I’d be there for her in a second if she needed me.” —Audrey McClellan, co-founder, momgenerations.com

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Life basics, party basics, and self-esteem basics are often all the same

“My sister found out that I couldn’t dance when we were teenagers and instead of making fun of me she showed me some moves that inspired me to teach myself belly dancing. It really helped bump up my self esteem!” —Chava Barr Mischel

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Sometimes you don’t need seconds

“My sister taught me when it comes to ex-boyfriends, don’t go back for seconds. Once is enough.” —Neshama Kane (Related: Here’s how to get over a breakup, stat!)

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Faster, smarter, stronger (when it comes to the TV remote)

“I learned that there are two ways to gain control of the remote: by being faster and by being smarter.” —Michelle Fireworker

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Perserverance is priceless

“I learned perseverance. She may be my younger sister, but she let nothing stand in her way of becoming a doctor and achieving her dream. I’m so proud of how she fought so many obstacles to be where she is today, to work at one of the top ERs in the country. She’s a fabulous example to my children, especially my daughter.” —Felissa Benjamin Allard

8 / 18

Slow down and smell the yogurt?

“My youngest sister, who is ten years younger than me, taught me to slow down and live in the moment. I was always the go, go, go type of person, never savoring the moment until one day when we out to pick up one of her favorite drinks, a Persian yogurt drink called “dough.” When we stepped out of the market, instead of rushing to the car and rushing home, she told me to stop. She stood there, in the parking lot, hugging this one gallon container, smiling ear to ear, and spinning around with it, with no care in the world about anything or anyone. She was just taking delight in the simple fact that it was a beautiful day and she was holding her favorite drink. On the car ride home, she told me that I need to do the same, that she never sees me smile and stop to just fully take in the things I love. From that day on, I have done exactly as she did in the parking lot that day, and I love my life infinitely more because of it.” —Elly Shariat

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Use your advantages and energy to spread goodness

“My sister fiercely fights for those without a voice and has motivated me to be more active in my community and for others. She reminds us all to use our privilege for the good of those who do not have the same. In this moment in history, we can all use this nudge!” —Jennie O’Hagan Korneychuk

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Blood is thicker than just about everything

“My sisters taught me early in life the importance of our family bond. Through countless laughs, tears, and life’s sometime’s heartbreaking ups and downs, I’ve always knows that my sisters were there for me. They’ve been my biggest fans, a source of inspiration and support since the beginning, and they never shy away from the opportunity to keep me grounded. With the unconditional love they’ve shown me my entire life, I’ve learned the true value and blessing of family.” —Erin Romine

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Commitment to others is everything

“I’ve watched my sister, Sandra, who is an elementary school physical education teacher, and her commitment to doing what’s right for her students. She is passionate and vocal about what’s right for them and standing up for those beliefs in an environment which is not always conducive to that. That has inspired me to stand up more and be a passionate advocate for the people and things I believe in.” —Abbie S. Fink

12 / 18

Love and hate are two sides of the same coin

“I have two sisters, one only 18 months younger than me. We fought like cats and dogs until I went to college. Once there was some distance we became true friends, and I learned so many things. First, sibling rivalry is character building. Second, no one can get to me like her, but then I eventually figured out that no one can get to her like me. It’s nice to know that someone ‘gets me’ the way she does. We understand and are always there for each other—no matter what.” —Juli Mandel Sloves

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Sisters are for life

“I grew up with two sisters. They always taught me that friends, men, and other people may come and go throughout our lives. We could always drift apart from other people, but that no matter what, because we are sisters, we will always have and be best friends with each other. Blood is stronger than anything. I’ve had toxic friendships, jealous friendships, and friendships where we just grew apart and became different people. With every heartbreaking separation whether it’s with a relationship with a boyfriend or a friend, my two sisters have always been there no matter what.” —Aysa Rose

14 / 18

Cooking is important

“I had a much older sister growing up so I never had to do much cooking between my parents and her. By the time I got to college and left home I was useless in the kitchen, so my sister dropped what she was doing with her own work and family to drive to where I was living and give me a full tutorial on how to make everything from eggs to pie. It wasn’t just a lesson in food, but also a lesson in how important it is to teach the people you care for to fend for themselves.” —Danielle Allison

15 / 18

You can spend less on clothes if you have a sister

“My sister and me aren’t exactly the same dimensions. I’m a littler shorter, she’s a little rounder, but that’s never stopped us from swapping clothes and expanding our otherwise modest wardrobes.” —Kara Husaal

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There’s always someone else to blame

“My big sister taught me early on that if you’re going to do something outrageously against the rules, make sure it looks like a younger sibling really did it. Sisters teach you to plant evidence.” —Jane Tamaka

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Nothing is too scary with a sister by your side

“I remember going camping as a kid with my sister and being petrified of bears. We shared a sleeping bag for a whole weekend because she was determined to make me feel safe. Years later when I was in labor with my first child, my sister actually flew in from across the country to be with me as my first was born. I asked her between contractions why she came for the labor and not a few days after the baby was born, and she told me simply that if she wasn’t going to let a bear eat me in the forest in 1997, she definitely wasn’t going to let me suffer labor pains alone. She’s the best.” —Miri Fruchtman

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A strong sense of community is so important

“Even as we age well into our senior years my sister keeps teaching me new things. We grew up in a big family with a lot of siblings, but now it’s just me and one sister left from the family. We don’t live too close, but after I retired my sister kept calling and hounding me to move into a less rural area insisting that I find a sense of community and neighbors somewhere even though I liked my peace and quiet. After a few years of her nagging, I moved into lovely apartment building where I made friends with many other women in the area. Not long after that I had a major health scare and needed people to help me and check in pretty often, and that would never have been possible if I lived in the middle of nowhere. That sister of mine sure knows how to keep teaching lessons, even if she’s 81 and can never seem to find her glasses.” —Phyllis Richards

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Bryce Gruber
Bryce Gruber is an expert in gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce. You've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting outlets and on TV shows. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children.