Relationships between siblings have been described as the longest lasting an individual can have, yet siblings both can and do become estranged from one another in adulthood. An online survey was disseminated to individuals who had sought support from the charity Stand Alone, which supports individuals who are experiencing family estrangement. Individuals estranged from one full genetic sister and/or brother were asked to describe the relationship in their own words. Open-text responses were thematically analysed from 291 respondents. Family systems were described as being characterised by estrangements, alliances and conflicts; there was variation in the participant’s preferences regarding reconciliation; and most respondents focused on describing their sibling’s challenging or disappointing characteristics and behaviour. The fact that siblings both can and do become estranged challenges commonly held assumptions about family relationships, confirming that they are not necessarily or always life-long, significant or supportive.
- parent/child relations
- sibling relationship