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Sibling relationships are influential

13 February
Posted by:
Michael Grose

During the last few years a flourishing parenting advice industry has emerged. Bookshelves now buckle under the weight of so many parenting tomes in book shops and libraries. The blogosphere is now thick with parenting bloggers dispensing advice about all sorts of family and child-related topics.

And current affairs and breakfast television programs have their parenting experts and you can hear parenting advice dispensed on radio as well. Parents can feel completely overwhelmed particularly when confronted with contradictory advice.

But most parenting advice is directed squarely at promoting the parent-child relationship, highlighting the uber-impact that parents have on their children, often neglecting the importance of the sibling relationship.

The parent-child relationship is not the only family relation that impacts on kids. The sibling relationship is the forgotten relationship. It will last longer than the parent-child relationship and is just as influential on children’s development as the parent-child relationship.

Over the past decades we’ve deemphasised the sibling relationship relative to the parent-child bond. This is to the detriment of families and to kids themselves.

We learn so much through our sibling relationships, perhaps as much if not more than through our parents. It’s from siblings we learn to how to solve conflict and how to maintain friendships, just as we learn about gender from our brothers and sisters.

We also get a taste for parenting as big siblings look after younger siblings and younger siblings learn, often before they are ready, from their elder brothers and sisters.

Our brothers and sisters give us our first taste of gender outside our parents.

We learn how to fight; how to defend ourselves and also how to forgive through interactions with our siblings.

The significance of this lifetime relationship is often ignored.

You can find more information about sibling relationships at

Let me know what you think at Are you close with your siblings? What's the secret if you close?


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