Sibling Differentiation: Sibling and Parent Relationship Trajectories in Adolescence

Mark E. Feinberg, Susan M. McHale, Ann C. Crouter, Patricia Cumsille

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Studied here were the links between sibling differences in trajectories of change in the qualities of parent-child relationships and the qualities of sibling relationships across a 2-year period in adolescence. Participants were first- and second-born siblings (M age = 14.94 years for firstborns and M age = 12.46 years for secondborns) from 185 predominantly White, working and middle-class families. In home interviews, siblings reported on their dyadic family relationships. For reports of parent-child warmth but not parent-child conflict, results were consistent with sibling differentiation theory: Increasing differences between siblings over time in parent-child warmth were linked to trajectories of increasing warmth and decreasing conflict in the sibling relationship as reported by firstborns, and increasing warmth in the sibling relationship as reported by secondborns. The findings support the view that sibling differentiation may be a strategy for managing sibling conflict and rivalry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1261-1274
Number of pages14
JournalChild development
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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