9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN04 Sociology of Children and Childhood

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Family Relationships and Emotions Building II, C6.01

Children need Brothers and Sisters to Feel Good. Sibship Ensures Enrichment of Relationship

The sibling relationship is the most long-lasting kinship relationship and the most intensive experience of closeness and intimacy during childhood. For children growing up in families with siblings this results in manifold bonding and communication experiences, relieving the strain on parents in many respects as well.
In presenting the results of an empirical case-study ? the thesis of the author - the enrichment of relationship will be described. Especially in families with more than one child we can observe that the variety of relationships and the diversity of characters and temperaments can enrich the quality of child-child relations. Growing up with siblings entails many special advantages which I call Multiple Relationship Enhancement. This Enrichment of interpersonal relationships strengthens resilience and emotional capital.
- Siblings orientate themselves on each other in the acquisition of language, role-playing, socialization and imitation learning
- Siblings gain many benefits in the development of empathy, social competence and strategies of conflict resolution
- Sibship ensures co-construction of reality and can merge their resources
- Siblings? coexisting competition intensifies creativity and openness to experience
- Intimacy and love create affective closeness and manifold internal representation of attachment pattern (in addition to parents-child-attachment)
- Children demand for justice in the family, gain frustration tolerance and knowledge of dependencies, show solidarity and behave with respect
All these social phenomena occur in the horizontal level in the subsystem of the siblings within the family. The strengthening of social resources, solidarity and resilience will be explored with the help of emerged categories following the method of Grounded Theory. The paper argues finally that symmetrical reciprocity, dyadic coping, and the capability of loving and ability of affection lead to Multiple Relationship Enhancement which isn?t substitutable in any other social context of interaction. Nowhere else the inner bond between children is so strong, in positive as in difficult times.
There is a tremendous lack of sociological research about sibship in childhood. This contribution will help to close this gap - empirically based and theoretically funded.