Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

The impact of sibling relationships on how people develop has been dramatically under-emphasised in the literature on child development. Drawing together new and established research, this accessible text shows that these relationships are crucial to professionals' under-standing of the children and the families they work with.
Sibling Relationships offers a theoretically grounded and culturally
sensitive account of the many complexities of sibling relationships, emphasising the significance of these for practice and the ways in which the effectiveness of work with children and families can be enhanced by promoting positive connections between brothers and sisters. It examines a range of adverse circumstances for children and families - substance abuse, domestic violence, loss, disability and mental illness - considering how sibling relationships are affected by these circumstances, and how relationships with siblings might help to promote resilience in children. Practice notes provide examples of how sibling relationships can become an important focus in the work of professionals.
This is the first book to link knowledge of sibling relationships to the practice of working with families. It will be important reading for anyone interested in children and families, including students and professionals in the areas of social work, counselling, applied social studies and childhood studies.

Table of Contents

An Introduction to Sibling Relationships

Frontmatter

1. Sibling Relationships: The Big Picture

Abstract
There is a polarisation in the way sibling relationships are seen. They are extremely complex and variable social relationships. They are sensitive to other intrafamilial relationships. They undergo considerable changes over the course of the lifespan. They provide an arena in which powerful positive features coexist with equally powerful negative ones.
Robert Sanders, Jo Campling

2. Sibling Relationships in the Family Context

Abstract
This chapter begins with a simple description of the family in terms of the three family subsystems described in the family therapy literature. Continuing from the previous chapter, it contends that sibling relationships are much more complex that they have perhaps been portrayed to be, arising within families which are themselves exceedingly complex social units, and considers the factors that make such relationships so complex (size, influences of other relationships, levels of influences). The chapter proceeds to consider the temporal dimension: how sibling relationships change over time.
Robert Sanders, Jo Campling

3. Changing Understandings of Sibling Relationships: Theory and Research

Abstract
There are three sections in this chapter. The first section looks at the early understanding of sibling relationships arising from psychoanalysis. The second section considers the early attempts by family therapists and psychologists to understand sibling relations, albeit in rather global terms. The third section looks at the developments within psychology over the last twenty years, during which there has been a period of renewed interest in sibling relationships, exploring their complexities in much greater depth than hitherto.
Robert Sanders, Jo Campling

4. The Quality of Sibling Relationships

Abstract
In the last twenty years sibling research has expanded dramatically. We continue to have research that focuses on the siblings as comparisons with target subjects, and research that focuses on siblings’ impact on the individual, but we also have a considerable growth in empirical research that looks at the quality of sibling relationships as an independent (input) variable and a dependent (outcome) variable. Clearly a single chapter cannot do justice to such a substantial body of literature.
Robert Sanders, Jo Campling

Issues for Practice

Frontmatter

5. Family Support and Sibling Relationships

Abstract
This chapter looks at children living in families experiencing difficulties and requiring family support. It will consider the circumstances of children in four different situations which may categorise them as being in need:
(1)
children of substance-abusing families
 
(2)
children of mentally ill parents
 
(3)
children with disabilities, and
 
(4)
children living with domestic violence.
 
For each of these the emphasis will be, where there is material available, on what is known about the impact of the adverse circumstances on sibling relationships. In fact, of these four groups, the only one that has a substantial literature attached to it is children with disabilities, where the impact of a child’s disability on the child’s non-disabled siblings has been extensively reported. In such situations, there are known to be positive impacts as well as negative ones.
Robert Sanders, Jo Campling

6. Abuse and Sibling Relationships

Abstract
This chapter looks at two issues: abuse by siblings and sibling relationships where there is abuse by parents. Abuse by siblings has been more substantially addressed in the child abuse literature. This chapter will address physical and sexual abuse by siblings and, very briefly, psychological and emotional abuse. With physical abuse, the focus will be on distinguishing aggression from abuse (which can be seen as extending beyond a threshold of relative acceptability).
Robert Sanders, Jo Campling

7. Loss and Sibling Relationships

Abstract
This chapter begins with a brief consideration of the significance of sibling relationships as attachment relationships and the impact of loss on children. It will then discuss three types of loss for children and consider their impacts on sibling relationships: loss through parental divorce, loss through being looked after by the local authority and loss through death.
Robert Sanders, Jo Campling

8. Into Practice

Abstract
The reader will see an underlying theme in the chronological way in which this book has reflected the developing complexity of understanding regarding sibling relationships. We began with an understanding of sibling relationships that was based on simplistic polarised conceptions, discourses, if you will, of good and evil. From mythology, legends, and folklore, brothers and sisters are portrayed as archetypes, frequently, but not invariably, aligning along gender lines (sister relationships are warm, nurturing, loyal, supportive; brother relations are rivalrous, competitive, hostile and aggressive). Relationships with siblings are characterised by love (being a primary support in a harsh world where cooperation promotes survival) and hate (rivalrous competition for scarce resources beginning with parental love, affection, and even birthright and later struggling to obtain the means of existence).
Robert Sanders, Jo Campling
Additional information