Mother Attachment and Sibling Relationships
Previous research has documented that infants, in the course of their development, form attachments to their parents (Volling & Besky, 1992). Solidness of such bonds to mother and father is independent. Either the mother or father attributes this independency to differences in interactional styles that are given. Subjective parental experience contends that siblings do not develop similar attachment relationship with their mother (Volling & Besky, 1992). Parents get amused at the huge gap in personality between their own children. Research on behavioral genetics indicates that such unpredicted variances among biological siblings are credited to distinctive elements, a child’s upbringing context per sibling in the same family (Marinus et al., 2000). A younger sibling, for instance, might be affected by the relationships between senior siblings and their parents. Discussions herein attempt to explore the effects of mother attachment as well as sibling relationship using two theories: development and social conflict.
Theories incorporated to examine this empirical topic are attachment theory and conflict framework theory. The paper is divided into two sections; with the first examining the relationship of mother attachment and sibling relationship to development theory. The second part examines conflict framework in accordance to the same topic.
Development theory Defined
Development theory is a collection of theories illustrating how recommendable changes in society can be best achieved. This theory entails changes over a period of time and normally encompasses three basic concepts (Kirsten et al., 2002). Firstly, it illustrates changes over different developmental areas; secondly, it illustrates changes in developmental areas and thirdly it elaborates the changes. Additionally, development framework offers an insight to critical reasoning about human growth, learning, and development. Child development comprehension is very vital since it enables us to embrace educational, cognitive, social, and physical growth that children go through from the time they are born to their adulthood. Development framework provides a clear understanding of what motivates human understanding as well as behavior.
Way much in history, an infant development from birth to adulthood was looked down upon. Children were regarded as the adult versions, and only received little attention as they developed their cognitive abilities, physical growth, and language usage (Kirsten et al., 2002). Child development was emphasized much later in the 20th century, but mostly majored on abnormal behavior. Eventually, most psychologists were interested in topic pertaining to child development and their development impacts. Prominent frameworks of children developments are regarded as grand frameworks since they illustrate each development element through their stage approach. In this section, social learning under development framework is incorporated to illustrate development aspects, such as social or cognitive growth in relation to mother attachment and sibling relationships (Kirsten et al., 2002).
Empirical review of development theory
As indicated earlier, this theory denotes the development of children from birth to adulthood. Development is a series of related age changes that takes place over an individual’s lifespan. Various psychologists among them Jean Piaget, Sigmund Freud, Lawrence Kohlberg and Erik Erickson describes development as a series of stages. Such stages, as stated by Freud, encompass all the relevant phases that a child should pass through by the time he/she approaches adulthood. Per stage development, the desire of libidinal is satisfied, which has a vital role in the personality of children in adulthood. If a child leaves out a single stage, he/she is likely to develop a fixation that is likely to influence adult behavior and personality. These psychologists denote that a stage is a developmental period whereby individuals acquire typical behavioral patterns as well as establish their specific capacities. Assumptions are prevalent in different development stages. The first assumption is that individuals undergo stages in particular order, and each stage establish capacities developed in previous stage (Jacobvitz, Curran & Moller, 2002). Secondly, the series of stages are related to an individual’s age, and lastly development is not continuous, but inhibits qualitatively varying capacities portrayed per age.
Social learning framework is an appropriate channel used to illustrate the dynamics in sibling relationships. In accordance to social learning frameworks, siblings acquaint themselves with novel behaviors through cognitive behaviors, such as beliefs and attitudes by observing and reinforcing behaviors of others. The reasoning processes of siblings transform during their physically maturity and interaction with individuals around them. In their development, siblings acquire mental models, which they use to interpret the world. In their learning, siblings remodel and increase their schema by accommodating and assimilating processes. By assimilation, they broaden the existing schema to add extra information whereas in accommodation they modify their schema as they incorporate new information (Kirsten et al., 2002).
Siblings shape their personal relations in the context of their social exchanges during their early developments by reciprocating negative or positive behavior as well as observing and imitating each other. In most families, such context offer sufficient opportunity for social learning to take place. Observational instruction tenets denote that family members are salient MODELS for social instruction. Along with this, siblings mostly imitate warm-hearted models as with higher status or are resemble them. These tenets illustrate that the interactional methods emphasized by family members’ are essential learning sources. For instance, warm loving family members are regarded as powerful and competent; and as a result, parents and older siblings are likely to be powerful models.
During development, children are instructed about social competencies when they interact with their siblings and parents, as well as by observing how their family members interact with others. However, it should be noted that not all siblings learn positive characters since they also observe negative dynamic relations such as aggression, hostility and conflicts (Caspers et al., 2007). The principles of social learning further depicts that the process of modeling in siblings relations are not constant as the duty of dyad sibling constellation with similar gender and older siblings mostly serve as models. Age-group siblings might get intimidated due to their self-similarities, whereas a big age difference among siblings can manifest a high status and empowered sibling, which promotes modeling. Studies on sibling impacts portray the effects of siblings and parents traits as possible moderators of observable instruction.
On top of the processes involved in observational instruction which takes place outside dyadic exchanges, siblings can further directly impact their dynamic relationships through the virtues of their personal behaviors through their daily interactions. For instance, siblings may adapt to having things their way by increasing their aggression and hostility level towards their sister or brother in a conflict episode (Marinus et al., 2000). Should the sister or brother surrender to any demand through aggression, the aggressive sibling would have positively escalated negativity; and in subsequent conflict episodes, negativity will be dominant in which the other sibling will negatively be reinforced to surrender. Resulting from the escalating negativity among siblings, sibling relations have been regarded as aggression training platform, since most siblings get their way through aggression.
Additionally, sometimes siblings can advocate negative behavior through their deviant talk. This is normally done when they accord each other with positive regard as well as imitating tales on delinquent conduct and activities. Research on siblings’ social learning majors on how siblings impact each other’s personal adjustment such as risky sexual activities, conduct problem as well as substance abuse (Marinus et al., 2000). In this case, siblings’ relations are regarded as a forum for social learning since they impact each other’s social development as well as behaviors. Consequently, the role of parents in shaping siblings relations denotes that the caregivers direct efforts to control and impact siblings’ interaction, by intervening in disputes among siblings. In their early developments, caregivers’ intervention in settling siblings’ disputes positively impacts how siblings relate.
When parents engage appropriate techniques of reasoning and implement skills of resolving conflicts among their children, siblings will then adapt effective strategies such as perspective discussions and compliance to mitigate conflicts among themselves. Training programs purposed for educating parents on how to efficiently control sibling disputes have profound positive effects in minimizing siblings’ disputes, enhance positivity and upgrade dispute resolution skills among siblings (Kirsten et al., 2002). This is because siblings emulate their parents’ models in all aspects during their various development stages. To sum up, siblings have primary role in shaping how they relate. This is evidenced through their every day exchanges whereby they directly reinforce each other’s behavior. Siblings further act as each other’s model, a scenario that mostly contributes to similarities among siblings in various domains such as delinquency among other acquired behaviors.
Social conflict theory posits that people, as well as social groups in the society differ on the account of the amounts of material and non-material sources (Feinberg, Solmeyer & McHale, 2012). Conflicts within families have a distinguished feature. These conflicts are unique because of the duration of relationships, as well as intensity and complexity (Feinberg, Solmeyer & McHale, 2012). It is essential to note that the relationships among family members are the closest; it is more intense emotionally than any other human relationships. In this case, a family conflict has numerous unfavorable impacts on family members. It can limit mother-child attachment, as well cause sibling rivalry. Consequently, this leads to family instability and could lead to the breakage of the affected family.
Jacobvitz, Curran and Moller (2002) have conducted research that has supported this theory. In one such study in which narrative reports were used, the majority of participants noted that attachment figures in their childhood has a big effect on their current social connotations.
What is the conflict theory?
To begin with, conflict or social conflict points out those social groups in the society have differences that are attributable to the amounts of material and non-material sources (Feinberg, Solmeyer & McHale, 2012).
In this section, this paper points out how social conflict within the family can affect mother-child attachment and dampen sibling-sibling association. Attachments between caregivers and siblings are accorded with the highest level of commitment and affection (McDonald, 2009). Following their long stay together, the bond between them is often very tight. When conflicts between siblings and siblings-parent attachments emerge the positive emotions in the family can be transformed dramatically into negative ones.
Conflict framework has several assumptions (Jacobvitz, Curran & Moller, 2002). First, this framework stipulates that people are self-oriented, as well as pursue personal interests while disregarding others. Secondly, people tend to form symbols or consume symbols. Thirdly, humans’ hopes and aspirations socially, economically and emotionally are unlimited. People will always compete for power, wealth and recognition, and this will always cause conflicts (Jacobvitz, Curran & Moller, 2002)
Children in families always strive for affection from their attachment figures particularly from their mother. Mother-child attachment or relationship is said to be the most solid since the two parties spend more time than fathers and children. However, conflicts in the family may dampen the mother-child attachment process, and this may have deleterious effects. Firstly, when this attachment process is hindered with because of family conflicts, mother and child may live separately. The child lacks the necessary comrade as well as affection from attachment figure. This causes the child to develop resistance within them; they always feel that they are unwanted and no one cares for them. Such children could end-up as delinquents in order to avenge for the lack of attachment.
Connidis (2007) opines that the assessment of familial social conflicts is essential because it helps in understanding problematic interaction patterns in the institution if the family. Moreover, it assists in framework provision for enhancing conflict control in families. Canary (2014) contends that some family conflicts dampen healthy family interactions. Furthermore, Neiderhiser (2000) points out that avoidant, irrational and power assertive styles are exceptionally troublesome.
Sibling rivalry is another form of conflict that arises in the family, and has undesired effects if it is not managed early. In the family, there is always competition among siblings for affection from either their caregivers or parents. Unfortunately, such competition has been found to engineer ambivalence between siblings. In other words, siblings may have love for each other, but at the same time, enmity (Feinberg et al., 2007). It essential for parents to provide equitable affection to all siblings, despite the fact that balancing such affection can at times be challenging. Parents should be able to stamp their authority and trim the competition between siblings when they try to out-do one another. What is interesting is that siblings may not realize that they are competing for affection from their parents or caregivers. At times, such conflicts could lead to long-term effects.
Research opines that the negative effects of excessive rivalry ought to be perceived from a developmental perspective. To begin with, studies contend that this form of conflict can dampen positive interaction dynamics common among siblings. Through the course of their development, children help each other in doing tasks. However, untamed sibling rivalry may cripple these processes (McDonald, 2009). It is further noted that a conflict based relationship among siblings can form the basis for siblings’ association with outside troubled peers. Troubled peers are a basis for a series of negatives later in life.
In addition, Feinberg, McHale, Crouter and Cusmille (2012) point out that in childhood, closeness as well as everyday contact champion emotional stability as well as the advancement of interactive understanding. Previous studies have noted sibling support, as well as warmth foster peer and social acceptance. Besides, it necessitates both academic and engagement attainment. In addition, such warmth and support have been found to champion intimate relationships in young adulthood (Feinberg et al., 2007). The extent of engagement dwindles as children grow and move out of their parents homesteads. Moreover, sibling relationship never ceases to influence adulthood relationships. A perfect scenario of sibling rivalry has been highlighted in biblical book of genesis (Feinberg, SolmeyEr & McHale, 2012).
Abel and Cain had great rivalry that caused much tension among the first ever two brothers of mankind. It is documented that Abraham sent Ishmael, Isaac’s half-brother, to exile, together with his mum. On the other hand, Jacob and Esau had intense differences over parental favoritism, as well as inheritance, and it led to sibling-parent conflicts (Feinberg, SolmeyEr & McHale, 2012). Jacob, Rebecca and their kids; Isaac and Esau, had conflicts on a number of occasions. The jealousy that Joseph’s brothers had towards him caused them to sell Joseph to a foreign land. In the book of Genesis, different parent-parent conflicts, parent-sibling conflicts and sibling-sibling conflicts have been documented. Although these conflicts have undesired consequences, others could lead to successful paths in life. The narrative of Joseph is another example. Even after being sold to foreigners, he became successful and rescued his family from famine (Feinberg, Solmeyer & McHale, 2012).
Most studies have assessed the constructive and destructive powers of siblings bonds but have not done much in documenting the genesis of those conflicts. Canary, Vuchinich and Messman (2014), calls for detailed understanding of sibling relationships if the conflicts between them are to be solved. In the first place, sibling bonds are made of basic characteristics. They include biological not only relatedness and age spacing, but also gender constellation, as well as the dyad’s space in the overall family. Previous studies have shown that sister-sister relationships are the most solid, and that the relationship between two brothers is the most unstable. Conflicts among brothers are more than those in their sisters. A prevalent source of disagreements depends on how siblings are getting along. Siblings’ relationships are perhaps the most challenging child-rearing experiences that parents pass through (Feinberg, Solmeyer & McHale, 2012).
Neiderhiser (2000) opines that caregiver prevalent treatment is the most significant influence of siblings’ relationships. The social comparison theory indicates that people tend to assess themselves on comparisons with others. Siblings are perfect candidates for social comparisons. Some caregivers frequently contrast their children to each other. In the western culture, norms call for the equal treatment of all siblings. Guardians should recognize the differences and needs amongst their children. On the other hand, research has shown that children are responsive to parental differential treatment, and that this phenomenon occurs frequently (Feinberg, Solmeyer & McHale, 2012). Parental differential treatment is equated to inadequate siblings’ bond from childhood to the adolescent stage. Less favored children show higher levels of despair, errant, substance abuse as well as antisocial behavior. These findings are supported by longitudinal research.
It should be considered that various paths contributing to connections among siblings’ behaviors as well as intellectual health. Environment, for instance, can shape siblings’ characteristics. Furthermore, brothers and sisters split exposures, schooling and family. These exposures have various impacts on how siblings relate. Sibling bond virtues are associated with several personal results. Substance abuse, aggression, identifies and self-esteem, depression and delinquency, and school adjustments are examples of outcomes that are shaped by siblings’ relationships (McDonald, 2009).
Several studies have linked challenges among siblings to the internalization of problems (Feinberg, Solmeyer & McHale, 2012). Longitudinal studies have shown that even if sibling-parent adjustments and parent-child relationships are controlled, sibling’s conflict often emerge (Feinberg, Solmeyer & McHale, 2012). The same studies also revealed that increased sibling intimacy reduces depression levels among siblings. In simpler terms, despondency was highest in siblings with a negative relationship. In addition, other studies have reported that youth who grow with limited interpersonal orientations have difficulties with their peers at school (Feinberg, Solmeyer & McHale, 2012). Consequently, such juvenescence associate with other rowdy colleagues, controversial behaviors and with social styles. This often leads to conflicts with teachers and the school administration. Most of the siblings who fall into this trap are candidates for poor academic attainment and substance abuse.
Furthermore, duress and squabbles within relative background might cause them to have poor relationships with their peers (Feinberg, Solmeyer & McHale, 2012). Conflicts among siblings have a prominent function in determining sibling’s behavior in their later life. It is paramount for parents, mothers in particular to nurture equitable care and affection among all children. Siblings in this case have to embrace the spirit of sisterhood or brotherhood, but such an embrace stems for the guidance they receive from their parents. On this note, parents must strive to limit siblings’ rivalry by offering equal opportunity, as well as supporting those who seem to struggle forming healthy associations. Different research has been carried out in support of this framework. Jetse Sprey and Lewis Coser are some of the scholars who have championed research in support of this theory. These studies highlight the need to have strategies of managing conflicts from micro-level of social interaction: the family (McDonald, 2009).
Summary and Conclusion
This paper has evaluated the importance of infant relations to their caregiver, and how such attachments can be boosted. Section one of this paper has shown that perspectives on development offer insights of solid dispute resolution skills on sibling relationships across their life span. During childhood, development among relatives reflects and compliments the models of their caregiver, but moreover remunerate the caregiver’s shortcomings in situations of distress. Development conducts among siblings takes time to nurture. Sibling connections are featured by the various stages they go through during their development.
On the other hand, conflict theory has been used to explore mother-child attachments and siblings’ relationships (Canary, Vuchinich & Messman, 2014). The conflict or social conflict points out those social groups in the society differ on the account of the amounts of material and non-material sources. When conflicts between siblings and siblings-parent attachments emerge the positive emotions in the family can be transformed dramatically into negative ones. Children within families always strive for affection from their mother.
Substance abuse, aggression, identifies and self-esteem, depression and delinquency, and school adjustments are examples of outcomes that are shaped by siblings’ relationships (Canary, Vuchinich & Messman, 2014). Therefore, parents must strive to limit siblings’ rivalry by offering equal opportunity, as well as supporting those who seem to struggle forming healthy associations.
Canary, D., Vuchinich, S., and Messman, S. (2014). Conflict – Couple Relationships, Family Relationships, Parent-child Relationships. Marriage and Family Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://family.jrank.org/pages/315/Conflict.html
Caspers, K., Yucuis, R., Troutman, B. and Arndt, S. (2007). A sibling adoption study of adult attachment: The influence of shared environment on attachment states of mind. Journal of Attachment and Human Development, 9:375–391
Connidis, A. (2007). Negotiating inequality among adult siblings: Two case studies. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69:482–499.
Feinberg, M. E., McHale, S.M., Crouter, A. C., and Cumsille, P. (2003). Sibling differentiation: Sibling and parent relationship trajectories in adolescences. Child Development, 74, 1261–1274.
Neiderhiser, J. M., Simmens, S. J., Reiss, D. (2000). Hetherington ME. Sibling comparison of differential parental treatment in adolescence: Gender, self-esteem, and emotionality as mediators of the parenting-adjustment association. Child Development,71, 1611–1628
Feinberg, E., Solmeyer, R., & McHale, S. (2012). The Third Rail of Family Systems: Sibling? Relationships, Mental and Behavioral Health, and Preventive Intervention in Childhood and Adolescence. Clin Child Fam Psychol, 15(1), 43–57.
Jacobvitz, D., Curran, M., & Moller, N. (2002). Measurement of adult attachment: The place of self-report and interview methodologies. Attachment & Human Development, 4, 207-215.
Kirsten, L., Maja, D., Wim, M., and Marcel, A. G. (2002). Developmental Patterns in Adolescent Attachment to Mother, Father and Sibling. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 31(3), 167–176.
McDonald, K. (2009).Evolution, Psychology, and a Conflict Theory of Culture. The Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 7(2): 208-233.
Marinus, H., van IJzendoorn, G, Belsky, J., Pederson, D., Marian, J. and Kneppers, K. (2000). The Similarity of Siblings’ Attachments to Their Mother.Child Development, 71(4), 1086–1098