This paper takes a look at the sibling relationship and how siblings communicate with each other whether a brother-brother, sister-sister, or a brother-sister relationship.  This paper looks at the many of the different aspects that entail these relationships.


        The sibling relationship is considered the most important relationship in a person’s life.  Siblings help each other define who they are in their gender and as individuals, and they also provide emotional support. This relationship is unique and lifelong.  It remains stable throughout the lifespan, and is kept healthy through relational maintenance behaviors.  

Birth Order

        Birth order plays a major role in the way that siblings communicate with one another.  It influences their language development and their social order.  The older siblings are usually the caretakers and providers for the younger ones.  The younger siblings are usually influenced by the standards that the older siblings have set in place for them to follow (Edwards, Mauthner, Hadfield, 2005). The place in the birth order that siblings occupied had a role in their commitment to the relationship.  Since older siblings generally have a caretaking position in the younger siblings’ lives, the younger siblings will especially feel closer to the older siblings.  This is especially true as the siblings get older and older family members die, they will need someone to fill in the caretaking role (Rittenour, Myers, & Brann, 2007).

Gender roles

Children’s sibling relationships are a place where social learning involves the production of femininity and masculinity.  Edwards believes that being a boy or a girl is not biologically driven or a matter of socialization into premade gender roles by parents, but it is a continual interactive process.  The relationship with siblings plays part in the social learning, producing, and reproducing of femininity and masculinity (2005).  It is also seen in the relational patterns of the parents’ interactions with each other and their children.  Parents interact with each child differently which accounts for the differences in siblings even though they have grown up in the same family.

Gender and Communication Styles

Gender in children’s sibling relationships in males is shown through activities such as rough housing, football, and physical fighting.  For females this is shown through interaction such as talking.  Gender roles are particularly shown in the brother-sister relationship.  In most brother-sister relationships, communication is done through activities just like when it is done in brother-brother relationships.  Relationships also display different gendered power.  In brother-sister relationships, predominately it was found that activities were used instead of talking which is seen in sister-sister relationships.  In brother-brother relationships, gendered power comes across through dual goals through activities.  This is achieved by connection/separation where the brothers develop their own sense of masculine subjectivity by activities.  In sister-sister relationships, the dual goals of femininity of separation/connectedness are achieved through talk and some activities (Edwards, Mauthner, Hadfield, 2005).  

Men and women also demonstrate closeness to each other in different ways which is known as the gendered closeness perspective.  Sister-sister relationships usually place more value on the amount of intimacy, confidentiality, and verbal communication.  They were also significantly more likely to talk about fears and personal problems, say that they love or like each other, hug, and share on a deeper level than men.  While brother-brother relationships, on the other hand, look to shared interests and activities for communicating and level of intimacy.  They were also more likely to go drinking together, shake hands, and talk about their sexual experiences as a way to bring about closeness.  In both types of relationships, the partners felt equally closes to each other (Floyd, 1994).

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The sibling relationships do not remain the same through out the life span, but continue to change as time goes by.  Since sister-sister relationships are based on talking, they are better able to remain in contact with each other over time and geographical distance.  It is harder for brother-brother relationships to remain in contact with one another because their relationship closeness is based on activities (Edwards, 2005)

Emotional Stability

In the study that Edwards conducted, he found that the siblings he interviewed said that having a brother or sister meant that there was someone who would be there for them. ...

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