Sibling relationships within families have received increased attention over the past few years, pointing to the potential protective role that these relationships can play. Despite this growth, very little is known about how parents perceive youth sibling relationships, especially in foster care, and how these relationships develop. Having sensitive, casual, and supportive social relationships has been associated with more positive outcomes after experiencing adversity in early childhood (Smith & Pollak, 2021). Traditionally, social relationships are interpreted as moderators that protect children from exposure to adverse events. Thus, the supportive relationship of brothers and sisters in relation to each other can play a crucial role in the formation of the psyche of the child and his further development as a person.
Emotional Bond Between Siblings
Practically 500,000 children in the United States are in foster care. Over 70% of these children are members of a sibling group, and many of them are placed separately for various reasons (Wojciak et al., 2018). The emotional pain experienced by the separated is often unbearable and devastating. Because of the important relationships that children may have with their parents and siblings, these children may experience anxiety, trauma, grief, guilt, and loss of identity (Sibling separation, 2019). Among these experiences, brothers and sisters often remain the last link and anchor of stability.
Influence on Personality Formation
One very important factor, which presents a serious problem when it comes to acting in the interests of brothers and sisters in foster families, is sufficient knowledge of the meaning of kinship. Many modern studies claim a direct connection between the child’s psychological development and its relationships with loved ones, primarily with brothers and sisters (Fullerton et al., 2017). For most siblings, kinship is the longest relationship a person can experience. Moreover, interactions with siblings, such as sharing experiences and comparisons, allow children to gain a sense of identity and opportunities for early intimacy.
The study of sibling relationships faces the problem of defining a unit of observation. To make sure that children have an impact on each other, scientists propose to separate such related positions as blood ties and a common life situation (Meakings et al., 2017). It is since even people with blood ties can have difficult relationships, because of which the separation of children will be the best outcome. However, the percentage of such cases is much lower, as in general, most of the research proves emotional stability and maturity between inseparable siblings.
The Process of Socialization Through Siblings
Scientists argue that children may be easier to adjust to a new environment when they have a familiar companion. Thus, the adaptation process may involve fewer activities or behavioral issues, a key factor prior to moving into place (Font & Kim, 2021). Separated children may be angry or sad and are therefore more likely to enter into negative foster relationships, leading to relocation (Why Separate Siblings? 1997). There are many ways for siblings to use their intellectual skills to influence others of their point of view and teach or imitate their sibling’s actions.
As long as there is no federal right of association, the states will continue to interpret the importance of the relationship between siblings. It essentially means that child protection workers will continue to have a lot of leeway regarding the placement of siblings (Katz & Hamama, 2018). Legislators in these states must pay close attention to the actual implementation of these policies to ensure that what they set out to do is carried out. Otherwise, the child’s socialization and mental education may be interrupted and formed incorrectly.
Early sibling bonds can be extremely rewarding, serving as an investment in later relationships. Their shared developmental and affective histories put the siblings in a position to become confidantes. The existing foster care system does not work correctly in the issue of separation of brothers and sisters, so it needs to be changed. Thus, siblings play an important role in creating opportunities for developing trust and understanding through mutual interactions such as play and conflict. Meanwhile, the training and care of siblings provide an opportunity to develop responsibility and support.
Font, S. A., & Kim, H. W. (2021). Sibling separation and placement instability for children in Foster Care. Child Maltreatment, 107755952110124. Web.
Fullerton, J. M., Totsika, V., Hain, R., & Hastings, R. P. (2017). Siblings of children with life-limiting conditions: Psychological adjustment and sibling relationships. Child: Care, Health and Development, 43(3), 393-400. Web.
Katz, C., & Hamama, L. (2018). The sibling relationship in the context of child maltreatment: What do we know? what are the directions for the future? Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 19(3), 343-351. Web.
Meakings, S., Coffey, A., & Shelton, K. H. (2017). The influence of adoption on sibling relationships: Experiences and support needs of newly formed adoptive families. The British Journal of Social Work, 47(6), 1781-1799. Web.
Sibling separation in foster care: An impetus for Change. (2019). Web.
Smith, K. E., & Pollak, S. D. (2021). Social relationships and children’s perceptions of adversity. Child Development Perspectives, 15(4), 228-234. Web.
Why Separate Siblings? (1997). Web.
Wojciak, A. S., Range, B. P., Gutierrez, D. M., Hough, N. A., & Gamboni, C. M. (2018). Sibling relationship in Foster Care: Foster parent perspective. Journal of Family Issues, 39(9), 2590-2614. Web.