Academic journal article The European Journal of Counselling Psychology

Quality of Sibling Relationship and Substance Misuse: A Comparative Study

Academic journal article The European Journal of Counselling Psychology

Quality of Sibling Relationship and Substance Misuse: A Comparative Study

Article excerpt

Introduction

Sibling relationship is one of the most neglected relations in psychological research (Cicirelli, 1982; Buist, Dekovic, & Prinzie, 2013). However, sibling relationship is one of the longest lasting relationships in an individual's life (Caffaro & Conn-Caffaro, 2005; Cicirelli, 1991; Orsmond, Kuo, & Seltzer, 2009). This may account for the fact that it has been found to be even stronger than parental and peer influence (Pomery, Gibbons, Gerrard, Cleveland, Brody, & Wills, 2005; Rowland, Chapman, & Henggeler, 2008; Windle, 2000). Furthermore, the enduring nature of sibling relationship seems to be an important factor in the shaping of individual development (Conger & Little, 2010; East & Khoo, 2005). Siblings may affect each other' behavior (Alderfer et al., 2010), both positively, as a resilient factor and negatively, as a risk factor. On the one hand, sibling relationship may function (positively) as an agent of socialization (Cox, Marshall, Mandleco, & Olsen, 2003; Hamama, Ronen, & Feigin, 2000), as a network of emotional support, a companionship in life (Dunn, 2005), as the best predictor of positive adjustment among older adults (Waldinger, Vaillant, & Orav, 2007), a role model for empathy towards others (Lam, Solmeyer, & McHale, 2012; McHale & Gamble, 1988), a context of developing competencies and strategies for managing conflict (Dunn, 1983) and learning new roles as mentor. On the other hand, it may function as a risk factor for mental health and behavior (Feinberg, Solmeyer, & McHale, 2012), use of drugs (Low, Short, & Snyder, 2012; Widom, Weiler, & Cottler, 1999) and initiation and promotion of antisocial behavior in adolescents (Alderfer et al., 2010; Henggeler et al., 2006). In the present study, we aimed to investigate the quality of sibling relationship (Furman & Buhrmester, 1985) in families with a sibling with substance use and compare it to families without substance use.

Quality of Sibling Relationship

The quality of sibling relationship has not been studied extensively. The existing literature focuses mainly on the following factors affecting its shaping: birth order, family size, gender and individual differences, in various intellectual and personality characteristics. However, research on the effects of structural variables and the quality of sibling relationship is not identical. It seems unlikely that the quality characteristics of sibling relationship are solely determined by the variables of family constellation (Cicirelli, 1995; Furman & Buhrmester, 1985). At the present time, researchers are focusing on the interpersonal relationships between siblings and factors influencing such relationships. The progress of research on sibling relationship has been relatively slow in comparison with research on spousal and parent-child relationships, largely because it wasn't until recently, that the full impact of sibling relationships on the developing individual has been realized (Cicirelli, 1995; Gamble & Yu, 2014; Stocker & McHale, 1992).

One of the first studies on the quality of sibling relationship was that of Furman & Buhrmester (1985), which aimed to create a systematic framework of study and evaluation of the quality characteristics of the sibling relationship. The dimensions that emerged as most important in sibling relationship were: (a) Warmth/Closeness, (b) Status/Power, (c) Conflict, and (d) Rivalry. Siblings are an integral part of the social world of children. The emotional ties between them are commonly considered to be second in power, only compared to those that exist between parents and children (Buhrmester & Furman, 1990). Siblings may have significant effects on each other's growth and influence may vary significantly, depending on the quality of the relationship that exists between them (Van Der Vorst, Engels, Meeus, Dekovi?, & Van Leeuwe, 2007; Yeh & Lempers, 2004). …

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