With in-depth case studies of more than 260 siblings over the age of forty and interviews with experts on mental health and family interaction, this book provides vital direction for traversing the emotional terrain of adult sibling relations. For both professionals and general readers, this book clarifies the most confounding elements of sibling relationships and provides specific suggestions for realizing new, productive avenues of friendship in middle and later life.
The bond siblings develop in childhood may be vastly different from the relationship that evolves in adulthood. Driven by affection but also characterized by ambivalence and ambiguity, adult sibling relationships can become hurtful, uncertain, competitive, or exhausting though the undercurrents of love and loyalty remain. An approach that recognizes the positive aspects of the changing sibling relationship, as well as those that need improvement, can restore healthy ties and rebuild family closeness.
With in-depth case studies of more than 260 siblings over the age of forty and interviews with experts on mental health and family interaction, this book offers vital direction for traversing the emotional terrain of adult sibling relations. It pursues a richer understanding of ambivalence, a normal though little explored feeling among siblings, and how ambiguity about the past or present can lead to miscommunication and estrangement. For both professionals and general readers, this book clarifies the most confounding elements of sibling relationships and provides specific suggestions for realizing new, productive avenues of friendship in middle and later life—skills that are particularly important for siblings who must cooperate to care for aging parents or give immediate emotional or financial support to other siblings or family members.
Geoffrey Greif is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and has been teaching and practicing family, group, and individual therapy for more than forty years. His books include
Two Plus Two: Couples and Their Couple Friendships and
Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships.
Michael Woolley is an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and director of research at the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center. He is a research fellow of the Society of Social Work and Research and has published dozens of articles and book chapters on both educational issues and practice with children and families.
Victoria Bedford, University of Indianapolis:
Given the book's academic strength, it is unusually engaging in its content. The writing is excellent. The breadth of relevant topics is superlative. And it makes a clear case for the importance of clinicians understanding sibling relationships.
Karen Gail Lewis, coeditor, Siblings in Therapy: An exciting presentation of the authors' study of middle and late adulthood relationships. It debunks generalizations that lob siblings into a static category, such as birth order. The brothers and sisters in this study demonstrate that this significant relationship is not static. Covering frequently overlooked topics such as parental interference in adult siblings' lives, emergency health crises, and sibling cut-offs, as well as extensive case studies, this is an excellent resource book for clinicians and for brothers and sisters.
Scott A. Myers, West Virginia University: Combining classic family therapy theories with both current research findings and contemporary case studies, Geoffrey Greif and Michael Woolley provide readers with an insightful yet fascinating glimpse into how middle-aged adults negotiate their sibling relationships. This book is a must-read for family researchers and therapists interested in learning how affection, ambivalence, and ambiguity work together to frame how adult siblings view their relationships.
Avidan Milevsky, Kutsztown University, author of Sibling Relationships in Childhood and Adolescence: Although several recent books have been written on siblings, the majority of them are not based on a serious review of the scientific literature or on an empirical study. This is why a research-based book like this on siblings is so timely.