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Sibling Relationships in Childhood and Adolescence

Sibling Relationships in Childhood and Adolescence: Predictors and Outcomes

Avidan Milevsky
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Sibling Relationships in Childhood and Adolescence
    Book Description:

    The most long-lasting and enduring relationship an individual can develop is with a sibling. Considering the closeness in age and early association of siblings, they can bond for a lifetime. Psychologists are beginning to appreciate the sibling link and its dynamic role in a child's social development. Beyond the mother-child dyad, sibling associations are now attributed with determining cognitive faculties, emotional balance, self-sufficiency, and peer interactions.

    Clarifying the complex processes of these relationships and the benefit of parental involvement, Avidan Milevsky provides a foundational text for a growing area of study. Deploying personal narrative, theoretical examinations, and empirical data, he unravels the intricacies of the sibling exchange and their function in overall family structures. He identifies the factors that make such bonds successful (or harmful) and the influence of parents in shaping these outcomes. He also evaluates the compensatory possibilities of the sibling bond when faced with the absence of a parent or friend.

    Variables such as age, birth order, gender, and family size are tremendous considerations, and parents hoping to enhance the sibling bond gain immensely from understanding these predictors. Milevsky shows practitioners how to educate parents and help them apply their knowledge in practice. He particularly supplies crucial perspective on "deidentification," or conscious differentiation, in which parents encourage different life paths to minimize sibling comparison and competition. A major tool for clinicians, social service providers, and educators, this book clarifies the next frontier in child development research.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52793-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xix-xxviii)

    The central role of siblings throughout life is becoming more evident as researchers begin to expend scientific resources in an effort to understand this often neglected relationship. The evolving focus on siblings is being perpetuated by several factors. First, recent statistics suggest that close to 90 percent of Western individuals have some type of sibling (i.e., biological, half, step, adoptive). Furthermore, the most long-lasting and enduring relationship an individual develops during life is the sibling relationship (Cicirelli 1980, 1982). The relationships developed with parents, children, and spouses are limited by nature. The age gap between parents and children necessarily translates...

  6. 1 Structural Variables and Sibling Relationships
    (pp. 1-15)

    As research on the predictors of sibling relationships burgeons, one consistent area of study has been on the significance of family constellation variables. Also known as familial structural variables, this work attempts to assess how sibling positioning, age spacing, and gender composition relate to multiple outcomes, including sibling relationship quality. The general study of sibling constellation variables has had a long and creative history (e.g., Blanchard 2004; Healey and Ellis 2007; Herrera et al. 2003; Sulloway 1996; Wichman, Rodgers, and MacCallum 2006). Most noteworthy are the predictions made by Francis Galton about birth order and achievement based on his observations...

  7. 2 Parenting and Sibling Relationships: Indirect Influences
    (pp. 16-34)

    Studies examining the factors associated with positive sibling relationships in children and adolescents have primarily focused on constellation variables such as gender, age, age spacing, and family size as the most prominent contributing variables (Buhrmester 1992; Tucker, Barber, and Eccles 1997). However, several recent studies suggest that beyond the contribution of constellation variables it is probable that processes within families serve as more powerful predictors of sibling relationship quality (MacKinnon 1989; Milevsky 2004). Support for this claim comes from numerous studies, including a unique, multilevel analysis designed to assess multiple relationships within families simultaneously, which found in families with multiple...

  8. 3 Parenting and Sibling Relationships: Direct Influences
    (pp. 35-43)

    In addition to the indirect role played by parents in fostering close sibling relationships via attachment and social learning processes (Bryant and Crockenberg 1980; Teti and Ablard 1989), a recent body of work has assessed more direct parental influences on sibling interactions. For example, studies have examined the way in which parental differential treatment of siblings in a family relates to sibling relationship quality (Brody, Stoneman, and Burke 1987; Brody, Stoneman, and McCoy 1992; Kowal et al. 2002; McGuire, Dunn, and Plomin 1995; McHale et al. 1995; McHale et al. 2000). Both maternal and paternal favoritism in childhood and adolescence...

  9. 4 Well-Being and Sibling Relationships
    (pp. 44-57)

    Well-being in childhood and adolescence has been found to be influenced by several variables, such as personal characteristics (Smith, Johnson, and Sarason 1978), religiosity (Milevsky and Levitt 2004), and social-environmental conditions (Dohrenwend 1973). Additionally, a considerable body of literature has produced consistent evidence for the importance of social support in adaptive development (Levitt 1991; Levitt, Guacci-Franco, and Levitt 1993; Levitt et al. 2005; Ryan and Solky 1996). For example, warm family relations have been shown to play a significant role in all areas of well-being (Bryant 1985; Cauce et al. 1994; Cochran et al. 1990; Furman and Buhrmester 1985b; Scales...

  10. 5 Compensatory Effects of Sibling Support: Parents
    (pp. 58-73)

    An expanding area of research in social relationships has recently focused on the possibility that a member of an individual’s social network may serve as a substitute in cases where support is lacking from a different member of the network. However, prior to examining compensatory processes empirically, it must first be established theoretically that specific relationships do not overlap in utility and that each individual relationshiphas unique and distinct characteristics (Stocker 1994). The reason this must be established is that the prospect that individual relationships do overlap in function and are not necessarily distinct produces the possibility that, in the...

  11. 6 Compensatory Effects of Sibling Support: Friends
    (pp. 74-84)

    One of the many changes that occur in children’s lives as they begin to spend more time in school and less time in the immediate surrounding of family is that they begin to become more involved in peer relationships. These new relationships are extremely important for cognitive and self-image development (Stocker 1994; Stocker and Dunn 1990) and for the psychological adjustment of children (Hartup 1999; Parker and Asher 1993; Stocker 1994). Furthermore, peer relationships are associated with a child’s academic achievements (Hartup 1983; Nelson and DeBacker 2008; Ryan 2001).

    Although research with samples of young adults has found contradictory evidence...

  12. 7 Sibling Deidentification
    (pp. 85-103)

    One of the most fascinating observations of siblings noted by parents and substantiated by scientific literature is how different from each other siblings can often be in many aspects of personality, cognitive abilities, and well-being (Conley 2004; Dunn and Plomin 1990; Dunn and Stocker 1989; Rowe and Plomin 1981). This finding is particularly interesting considering the genetic similarity between siblings and the fact that often these differences are found in siblings born and raised in the same family.

    Several theoretical propositions attempt to account for these sibling differences. For example, a considerable literature exists examining the importance of the nonshared...

  13. 8 Summary, Application, and Future Directions
    (pp. 104-114)

    As developmental researchers and clinicians continue to focus on the growing field of sibling relations, several patterns are becoming evident. In line with advances in systems-driven approaches to understanding human development, current studies highlight the importance of examining process-oriented agents, such as family dynamics, in the formation of sibling bonds. Both mothers and fathers play a significant direct and indirect role in the construction of sibling relationship quality. Furthermore, the importance of a close sibling bond manifests itself in numerous ways, including advances in emotional, social, cognitive, and moral understanding (Bryant and Crockenberg 1980; Dunn and Munn 1986a; Howe and...

  14. References
    (pp. 115-142)
  15. Index
    (pp. 143-152)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 153-156)