Chapter 13: Sibling Relationships and Situations
•Key aspect of chapter: The combined effect of the environment, including the
familial one, and of genetic inheritance in the development of siblings life
•At least 80% of Canadians have at least one sibling. And it usually outlasts
the parent-child relationship.
•When children reach adulthood in Western Cultures the sibling relationship
continuing becomes optional. (other cultures aren’t)
The Sibling Relationship Begins
•Each child enters the family at a difference moment in its history and
contributes to changing this environment.
The only child becomes the older child
•parents spend more time interacting with their children altogether but
they have less time for each child individual + economic resources
available per person diminish.
oMoney + time diminish
•The arrival of a second baby generally means that the older child has a
lower chance of experiencing a parental divorce. (the reason can be that
happier couples are already more likely to have another baby…)
•Parents give more attention to younger than older children.
•Result – the first-born child occasionally suffers from a variety of
problems of adjustment, including anxiety, clinging behavior, bed-wetting
and even aggressiveness.
•Additional infants benefit from the experience that parents have acquired
with their earlier-born children. (first to test the waters)
Consquences of Children’s Spacing
•With four years or more of spacing between the 2 children, the parents
relationship with the first born may continue to be exclusive during a
portion of the day as the baby sleeps. (little competition)
•In terms of educational achievement, children do less well, on average,
when they are closely spaces. (less individual time if siblings are close in
age – follow the same routine) (younger child benefits from having a older
more developed sibling and parents with more time)
Consequences of Family Size
•Large sibling groups generally do not do as well at school, on average,
as children from small families. (neither do they do better professionally as
•The concept uses to explain this family size effect is the DILUTION
OF PARENTAL RESOURCES.
oThis means that parents have fewer nonexpendable resources for each
child individually (time, attention, economic etc)
•NEGATIVE: Larger families – learn less + aggressiveness appears. Lack of
group + lack of privacy.
•But of course there are exceptions to this rule – there is no effect on larger
families to Muslim Arabs (as extended family/hamula supports the nuclear
•Advantages to a large family:
oSiblings are more affiliative, more affectionate, good leaders, less prone
to depression or otherwise healthier. They may be less individualist
and more cooperative. (better at sharing)
Child and Adolescent Sibling Relationships
Munn and Dunn (1988) report that brothers and sisters hose
personalities are compatible or complementary experience a more harmonious
relationship that those who are temperamentally incompatible.
Older and Younger Siblings
•Found that it was the older child’s personality that more strongly affected the
distribution of power in the relationship.
•Agreeability in the older child is a predictors of harmony.
•Found that older siblings tend to be fairly consistent over time in their
behavior toward their younger brother or sister: Aggressiveness or
•Younger siblings show less stability of behavior toward their older siblings
then the older ones do toward them.
•Younger ones are forced to be more compliant in the relationship.
•The older child has a stronger effect on the younger one than vice versa.
Gender and Class in the Sibling Relationship
•12/13 year old first-born boys reported a more distant relationship with their
younger siblings than did first-born girls.
•Females begin at an early age their function of KIN-KEEPERS.
•A social class difference: older children of higher-income families reported
more warmth and closeness with their siblings than the older children of
•McHale and Crouter (1996) report that preteens spend 33 % of their out-of-
school hours with siblings compared to 13 % with friends. These numbers
alone should predict a great deal of sibling influence.
Older siblings as Role Models
-If one is positive or aggressive the other one follows the trend.
-Siblings are important agents of socialization.
-If one child abuses alcohol, the other one is at risk of doing so too.
-In terms of sexuality, Widmer (1997) reports that older siblings have
an effect of the timing of first intercourse among their younger
brothers and sisters.
-Older sibling’s treatment of the younger one serves as an incentive to
adopt the interactional style in other relationships.
Int roduction: key aspect of chapter: the combined effect of the environment, including the familial one, and of genetic inheritance in the development of siblings life course, at least 80% of canadians have at least one sibling. And it usually outlasts the parent-child relationship: when children reach adulthood in western cultures the sibling relationship continuing becomes optional. (other cultures aren"t) The sibling relationship begins: each child enters the family at a difference moment in its history and contributes to changing this environment. The only child becomes the older child: parents spend more time interacting with their children altogether but they have less time for each child individual + economic resources available per person diminish. o. Large sibling groups generally do not do as well at school, on average, as children from small families. (neither do they do better professionally as adults) Of parental resources: this means that parents have fewer nonexpendable resources for each.