Master of Science
Beauty D. Crummette
Most of the richness and beauty of life is derived from the close relationship that each individual has with a small number of other human beings--mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, son, daughter, and a small cadre of close friends. With each person in this small group, the individual has a uniquely close attachment or bond. Much of the joy and sorrow of life revolves around attachments or affectional relationships--making them, breaking them, preparing for them, and adjusting to their loss.
This study dealt with one of those special attachments, the relationship a child formed with his newborn brother or sister.
Much literature has been written on sibling rivalry. The Bible attests to hatred and homicidal impulses related to fraternal jealousy between Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers, to name a few. Greek mythology, as well as English literature throughout the ages, abounds in themes of sibling rivalry. Many psychological studies have been done on older children and adults who had extremely poor childhood sibling relationships, but they also had many other pathologies, and the studies were done in hindsight.
Few articles have been written on sibling bonding-- its manifestations and the types of things that might be done to assist in its development. Nursing research is sadly lacking in this area. The mother-infant relationship has received a great deal of deserved attention; studies have produced volumes of information and implications and applications for clinical practice. The father-infant relationship has only recently been recognized as being extremely important. Many fathers are now enjoying and participating in the care of their children. Currently sociologists and psychologists are examining the child's entire social network, one which includes siblings, grandparents, adult friends and peers all of whom appear to serve important functions in the child's life.
The experience of becoming and having a sibling is a common situation for many preschool children. The addition of a new infant to a family with a preschooler presents a unique challenge to parents. Since professional Nursing is concerned with the well-being of families and their development of healthy, mutually satisfying relationships, it is important that the nurse gain an
understanding of sibling relationships. Before she can help individual family members meet their needs, she must observe interactional patterns. Nurses are often involved with a family. This involvement provides opportunities for obtaining an overview of the life cycle--pregnancy, childbirth, and early days and years of the children’s lives. The involvement gives nurses the opportunity to collect data from the families directly and to provide anticipatory guidance, e.g., concerning preparation of a child for a sibling and support of healthy coping mechanisms. Certainly the emphasis of pediatric health care today is on prevention rather than simply alleviating the symptoms of diseases. More attention to the needs of the developing family could foster positive relationships and prevent disturbances in family life.
It has been noted by the investigator in her professional experience that parents have questions concerning sibling relationships, especially around the time of childbirth. It was hoped that this study would reveal information which might be helpful to nurses, pediatricians, obstetricians, and others who provide anticipatory guidance for parents.
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