Listening to Young People in School, Youth Work, and Counselling

By Nick Luxmoore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Siblings
The Possibility of Therapeutic Relationships
between Young People

However reluctantly, we’ll admit to being the product of parents. In fact, we take considerable account of relationships with mothers and fathers but traditionally pay less attention to those other members of the family from whom we also derive an identity: our siblings.

Part of my work in schools has involved helping set up, train and supervise teams of older students (usually called student counsellors or listeners) whose job for a year is to get to know as many younger students as possible and be available to them as a source of support throughout the year. The student counsellors do this in a variety of ways. But while it’s easy to describe what their work practically consists of, it’s harder to explain exactly what goes on in these relationships and why they’re usually so treasured by both the student counsellors and the younger students. Something important clearly happens.

Very little is written or talked about sibling relationships. Feelings about siblings are ultimately interpreted as feelings about parents. This is true in as much as parents are entirely responsible for creating our siblings and siblings (including the lack of them) affect our relationships with our parents hugely. But there’s almost an assumption that sibling relationships have no developmental identity or therapeutic significance in their own right. I suspect that so many young people apply to be

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