Very few studies examining parents’ beliefs and/or attitudes regarding sibling relationships have been conducted (Perkins, 2014). This includes the lack of examination of behaviors associated with physical and emotional sibling violence (SV) despite this being the most common form of family violence (Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 2006). Experiences of negative interactions, in this case SV, with a sibling in childhood and its impact on the sibling relationship later in life are less understood. A better understanding of this connection is essential in helping to understand mechanisms that can be used by social workers when intervening in maladaptive family dynamics.
A secondary data analysis examining 209 parents and their responses to the Lifespan Sibling Relationship Scale (LSRS; Riggio, 2000) and SV was conducted. Participants had a mean age of 40.52. 50.2% were female, 57.4% had a household income of $75,000 or higher, 63.6% had at least a Bachelors degree, and 78% identified as Caucasian. A series of three ordinary least squares regression models were run to examine factors predicting three of the six subscales of the LSRS (Adult Affect, Adult Behaviors, and Adult Cognitions). The models included participants’ responses to three LSRS subscales (Child Affect, Child Behaviors, and Child Cognitions), frequency of experiencing SV, and demographic variables.
For Adult Affect, the model was significant (F=6.44, p<0.001, R2=.49) with father’s education-high school/GED (p=0.04); mother’s education-high school/GED (p=0.001), Some college (p=0.006), and Bachelors (p=0.04); childhood household income at all levels- $25-50K (p=0.004), $50-75K (p=<0.001), $75-100K (p=0.005), and $100K+ (p=0.001); and Child Behavior (p=0.05) significantly predicting one’s affect related to sibling relationships in adulthood.
For Adult Behavior, the model was significant (F=5.19, p<0.001, R2=.44) with age difference between participant and sibling (p=0.004); childhood household income at all levels- $25-50K (p=0.004), $50-75K (p=<0.001), $75-100K (p=0.02), and $100K+ (p=0.002); and Child Behavior (p<0.001) significantly predicting one’s behaviors related to sibling relationships in adulthood.
For Adult Cognitions, the model was significant (F=6.17, p<0.001, R2=.48) with mother’s education-high school/GED (p=0.002) and Some college (p=0.02); childhood household income at all levels- $25-50K (p=0.002), $50-75K (p=<0.001), $75-100K (p=0.01), and $100K+ (p=0.002); Child Behavior (p=0.04); and Child Cognitions (p=0.01) significantly predicting one’s cognitions related to adult sibling relationships.
Conclusions and Implications:
The effect of frequency of SV as either a victim or perpetrator on adult affect, behaviors, and cognitions related to sibling relationships may not be as strong when other factors are considered. Results of this research indicate that assessment of household context from childhood is important when considering those factors which influence how one may view their relationship with a sibling in adulthood.