Close sib­lings can ease pain of fam­ily con­flicts

Strength­en­ing sib­ling re­la­tion­ships may not only di­rectly fos­ter chil­dren’s psy­cho­log­i­cal ad­just­ment, but also of­fer new ap­proaches to coun­ter­act­ing the risks as­so­ci­ated with ex­pe­ri­enc­ing hos­til­ity and un­re­solved con­flicts be­tween par­ents.

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Front Page -

GOOD re­la­tion­ships be­tween sib­lings can help them cope with con­flicts be­tween their par­ents, a new study finds. The re­search in­cluded 236 fam­i­lies with a mother, fa­ther and at least two chil­dren who weren’t twins. The chil­dren were be­tween ages 12 and 14, and most of the fam­i­lies were white and mid­dle-class. “Most chil­dren not only grow up with a sib­ling, but spend more time in­ter­act­ing with sib­lings than with any other fam­ily mem­ber,” said study leader Patrick Davies, a pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Rochester in New York.

Chil­dren in the study ob­served their par­ents dis­cussing top­ics of dis­agree­ment, and they re­ported on their dis­tressed re­sponses then, and one year later. Re­searchers found that teens who had good re­la­tion­ships with their sib­lings had less dis­tressed re­sponses, though they only found an as­so­ci­a­tion, rather than a cause-an­d­ef­fect link. The study was pub­lished re­cently in the jour­nal Child De­vel­op­ment.

“We showed that hav­ing a good re­la­tion­ship with a brother or sis­ter re­duced height­ened vul­ner­a­bil­ity for youth ex­posed to con­flicts be­tween their par­ents by de­creas­ing their ten­den­cies to ex­pe­ri­ence dis­tress in re­sponse to later dis­agree­ments be­tween their par­ents,” Davies ex­plained in a jour­nal news re­lease. The re­searchers noted that be­cause most of the fam­i­lies in the study were white and mid­dle-class, the find­ings may not ap­ply to fam­i­lies of other races or lev­els of wealth.

Still, “re­la­tion­ships with sib­lings pro­tected teens whether we de­fined a good bond as one that in­cluded warmth and prob­lem-solv­ing skills or one that had low lev­els of de­struc­tive con­flict or dis­en­gage­ment,” said study co-au­thor Mered­ith Martin, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Ne­braska-Lin­coln.

“Strength­en­ing sib­ling re­la­tion­ships may not only di­rectly fos­ter chil­dren’s psy­cho­log­i­cal ad­just­ment, but also of­fer new ap­proaches to coun­ter­act­ing the risks as­so­ci­ated with ex­pe­ri­enc­ing hos­til­ity and un­re­solved con­flicts be­tween par­ents,” she said.

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