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Sibling closeness is cultural

2 April
Posted by:
Michael Grose
There is a cultural element to sibling bonding.

The research indicates that siblings tend to be closer in Polynesian families, many African families and also Mexican or Latino families than in many western countries such as Australia and the United States that have placed an over-emphasis on the parent-child relationship at the expense of the sibling relationships. In these traditional cultures siblings play a central role in child-rearing.

Researcher Tom Weisner from UCLA conducted an in-depth study of families in Kenya and found that older siblings did most of the child-rearing work. Parents acted as line managers outsourcing child-rearing of young children to various siblings.

It seems that siblings in different cultures still fight, but less so than siblings who do less to help each other. The involvement of siblings in the child-rearing process has decreased dramatically in Australia and the United States. In the meantime, sibling fighting, teasing and competitiveness has increased in that time.

When siblings have a nurturing, quasi parenting role the sibling relationship is generally closer, and stays more meaningful over time.

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