Growing pains part 1: Water thicker than blood: Why children seem to bond more with friends


For every Harry Potter there’s a Ron Weasley, for every Calvin, a Hobbes and for every Tom Sawyer a Huck Finn; held together by an inseparable bond that seems to withstand the tests of time. For some reason, many adolescents and teens today seem to have a stronger bond with best friends than with their siblings or cousins.

Granted, the various factors of age, gender and interests can be part of the reason siblings do not spend as much time together. Yet, often, siblings who share similar interests and are in the same age group, may spend more time apart than together. Science has found one of the reasons for friends holding a stronger bond with each other than with family.

Importance of friendship

In a study of the macaque monkey, researchers found a stronger bond in friends than family as well. The monkeys were found to follow the guidance and lead of another monkey considered a companion, than family members. Jerome Micheletta, led the study and said “Friendship is important for [these animals] to cope with day to day life and survival.” Micheletta adds, “In some species, friends are probably as important as family and dominance status.” Even in the animal kingdom, there seems to be a deep connection between friends. A study discovers that genes may play a larger part in how friends are chosen.

The similarities between friends

From an early age, children will adapt themselves to fit in with a crowd or find friends with similar interests and personalities. In many cases, two or three people will become best friends and build an long-standing bond between each other. A 2014 study, co-authored by Nicholas A. Christakis Ph.D., and James H. Fowler, Ph.D., finds similarities in the genes of best friends.

Christakis and Fowler studied 1,932 gene samples and discovered, “Across the whole genome, friends’ genotypes at the single nucleotide polymorphism level tend to be positively correlated.” In other words, certain people will have genes which relate to another friend’s set which may help them to build a stronger bond of friendship than with those of other less similar gene types.

The study also formulates the idea that, when two friends with similar genes become friends, they can help each other’s genes evolve. Christakis and Fowler theorize that the, “correlated genotypes are under positive selection suggests that the genes of other people might modify the fitness advantages of one’s own genes, thus affecting the speed and outcome of evolution.” This does not mean that friends are solely determined on a genetic factor, but that factor plays a significant role in choosing friends.

White River Academy provides holistic treatment and formidable rearing for troubled boys from ages 12 to 17. The academy follows a boarding school format, offering guidance through a disciplined education program and instilling character values through service projects to promote positive growth. For more information or to register, feel free to call 866-520-0905.

Growing Pains Part 2: Spending time with children, teens

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top