Children's experiences of sibling relationships after parental separation: A case study approach




Bush, Jacqueline Elaine

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The current study examined children’s experiences of sibling relationships following parental separation. Areas investigated included the nature of sibling relationships in separated families, how siblings provide care and support to each other, and how they view sibling relationships in general. To obtain a holistic, context-sensitive understanding of sibling relationships, the study involved a multimethod, multi-source, case study approach that included interviews, sentence completion items, drawings, and vignettes. Three families participated in approximately five to six sessions each. Children and parents participated in individual sessions, and the children participated in one session with their siblings. Through cross-case, qualitative analyses, several salient themes relevant to sibling relationships in separated families were identified. Such themes include the importance of context in understanding sibling relationships (e.g., developmental phase of sibling relationship, custody arrangements, co-parenting relationship); the role of negotiating time with each parent; the impact of physical context; how shared experiences might shape sibling relationships in separated families; and the indirect ways in which siblings support each other. Relevant research and clinical implications when working with children are discussed.



siblings, divorce, children