*Photo credit: Julia Wheeler and Veronika Laws via Getty Images
Relationships with siblings – or sibling-like relationships – are the longest and perhaps most important connections in life. Brothers and sisters can have a lasting impact on one’s development and path in life. The Huffington Post partnered with Johnson & Johnson to explain three major ways siblings impact one another:
Siblings provide a support system unlike any other. An Ohio State University study found that older adults with siblings had a more positive attitude and experienced depression less than those without. Siblings can be especially important for children who experience broken homes. Clinical psychotherapist Michelle Ambalu explains, “During times of significant changes within or disruptions to the family dynamic, a sibling can often take on the role of the primary attachment figure during childhood at a time when the typical primary caregiver is less able to offer this.”
Studies show that boys who grow up with sisters tend to be more emotionally secure, while girls who grow up with sisters are encouraged and inspired in their social roles. Siblings often adopt one another’s behaviors and habits, and it’s typical for younger siblings to mirror their older siblings. However, there are instances where siblings can be complete opposites and choose different trajectories in life.
Growing up with a sibling of the opposite gender helps children establish a comfort level with the opposite sex. Siblings also learn early on how to settle disputes since they are stuck with each other forever, and playful teasing encourages the ability to build connections and relationships. Children without siblings develop their social skills by engaging with friends more and interacting with their peers.
“Sibling relationships are there from the beginning and often extend beyond the loss of parents, intimate partner relationships, and in some cases, relationships with children. Siblings help define who we are and where we fit.” -Kelly McCauley, Associate Director of the KVC Institute for Health Systems Innovation
At KVC, we recognize the importance of sibling relationships and the close bond that brothers and sisters share. We work hard to keep families safely together. When that’s not possible and a judge makes a decision to remove children from their home due to abuse, neglect or other family challenges and place them in foster care, we make it a priority to keep siblings together while they are being cared for by a relative, kinship or foster family. Of the children KVC provides foster care case management for, 72.3% reside in a family-like setting with their siblings.
More relative, kinship, foster and adoptive families are needed in every community so that children can remain close to what is familiar to them, especially their families and schools. Consider opening your heart and home to children in need by becoming a foster parent or becoming a forever family to siblings hoping to be adopted together.