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Longitudinal Course and Family Correlates of Sibling Relationships From Childhood Through Adolescence


  • This work was funded by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant RO1-HD32336, Ann C. Crouter and Susan M. McHale, Co-Principal Investigators. We thank Matt Bumpus, Aryn Dotterer, Melissa Fortner, Heather Helms, Lilly Shanahan, Cindy Shearer, Julia Jackson-Newson, Mary Maguire, Corinna Tucker, Kim Updegraff, and Shawn Whiteman for their help in conducting this study and the participating families for their cooperation. This paper is based on the doctoral dissertation of Ji-Yeon Kim at the Pennsylvania State University.

concerning this article should be addressed to Ji-Yeon Kim, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, 207 Beecher-Dock House, University Park, PA 16802. Electronic mail may be sent to


Changes in sibling intimacy and conflict were charted from middle childhood through adolescence, and family structure and relationship correlates of change were examined. Participants were mothers, fathers, and firstborn (M=11.82 years at Time 1) and secondborn (M=9.22 years) siblings from 200 White, working/middle class, 2-parent families. Sibling intimacy was highest for sisters, stable over time for same-sex dyads, and showed a U-shaped change pattern in mixed-sex dyads. Sibling conflict declined after early adolescence at the same time (but at different ages) for firstborn and secondborns. Maternal acceptance covaried positively with sibling intimacy, and father–child conflict covaried positively with sibling conflict over time; fathers' marital love was linked to sibling intimacy in a pattern suggestive of compensation.

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