An interview with researcher, Susan McHale about the impact of gender and culture on how siblings view each other. Susan explores the way that individualistic cultures foster sibling competitiveness and resentment of favoritism. She describes how in some Mexican American families siblings may support the unfair advantage of one successful sibling who then reflects well on them all. She also describes how gender socialization of girls as caregivers is protective to their younger siblings. She cites research that shows how having an older brother is more likely to result in exposure of the younger siblings to risky behaviors as compared to having an older sister. She reiterates the importance of the sibling relationship as a source of longstanding and as yet poorly studied influence on people’s lives. Indeed, one study suggests that adults with positive sibling relationships at age 65 are more likely to be happy and physically healthy.
An interview with parenting expert, Adele Faber, co-author with Elaine Mazlish of the best-selling, Siblings Without Rivalry and, How to Talk so Kids will Listen, and Listen so Kids will Talk. Adele speaks about the importance of listening to and validating kids feelings about their siblings, no matter how uncomfortable they make us. She uses the analogy of how you would feel if your spouse brought home another wife, or another husband who you were expected to care for and share your things with. She models empathic responses that parents can give to their children’s anger, jealousy and even hatred of their siblings. She also acknowledges that it is common and normal to find yourself more drawn to one of your children, and that the feelings alone are not hurtful to your child. She offers helpful ways to behave such that the unique gifts of each child are seen and celebrated.