Sibling relationships among children,
their interaction and rivalry have been subjected to a lot of attention
and research. But what about sibling relationships when children grow older?
Do these relationships withstand the test of time?
Sibling relationships are the longest
relationships one experiences, in that they last a lifetime - even after
parents are no longer around. As children grow up and move on, they get
into other relationships such as marriage and have children. This often
results in sibling relationships being put on the back-burner. However
studies have shown that most adults with siblings admit to having some
form of contact with their sibling. The amount of contact was highest between
pairs of sisters and lowest between pairs of brothers. Brother-sister pairs
fell between the other two groups. Persons who maintained
the closest relationships with their siblings were those who have never
The nature of sibling relationships
varies and can be classified into the following types:
In this relationship the siblings
value their relationship more than their marriage and remain very close.
Here the siblings are friends but
more importance is given to their marriages, children etc
In this type of relationship family
gatherings, marriages etc are the only places that the siblings meet and
there is not much interaction other than these occasions.
Siblings in this kind of a relationship
remain indifferent to each other and rarely have any contact.
Here the siblings resent each other
and this could be a continuation of childhood rivalry.
The strongest test of a sibling relationship comes when it involves the care of ageing parents. If the siblings have a close relationship then they tide over the crisis easily, working together to find a solution. For some, a parent's illness may be the first time they really appreciate their brother or sister. However most of the time this situation leads to a breakdown in sibling relationships with the question: "Why should I bear the responsibility alone?" popping up often. Sometimes siblings quarrel over the nature of care given to parents, negligence often leading to a serious strain on an already weak relationship.
However it has been found that as adults age sibling relationships become more important and stronger. Aging adults with a surviving sibling often have a higher morale and a sense of well being than those without one, and more so if the sibling was a sister. This could be attributed to the fact that women by nature are capable of giving a lot more care and affection.
With life becoming more and more
mechanical and with career and money taking highest priority, it is no
surprise that the divorce rate is increasing by the day. In this context
sibling relationships assume importance as a sibling can prove to be an
emotional anchor in times of need. Hence there is no doubt that more effort
should be put in to nurture this relationship that so many of us take for