, between four and seven million children suffer from one or more chronic illnesses. Not surprisingly, many of these children have brothers and sisters. United States
Sibling relationships are famous for their emotional intensity. Brothers and sisters play a very important role in the emotional and social development of each other. Little brothers and sisters love to model what their big brothers and sisters do, and as many of you know from personal experience, having a little brother or sister helps define who you are. There is not much doubt that siblings can have a great influence on each other.
But what do we know about the impact on siblings of children with chronic illnesses?
First of all, family scholars will tell you that “siblings” are very under-studied as a group. Compared to “infants” or other well-studied groups, we really know very little about sibling relationships overall.
Secondly, the results of studies of the psychological well-being of siblings of children with illness are very mixed. Some researchers have found brothers and sisters who have a chronically ill sibling to be a “population at risk.” Others have suggested that there are some positive benefits of growing up with an ill brother or sister.
In Part II of this blog, I’ll provide you with more specifics about what is known about the impact on siblings of children with a chronic illness.
Published On: March 29, 2007