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Siblings

Sibling relationships are often the longest in an individual’s life. In Western societies, about 80% of persons have siblings. The influence of siblings and sibling relationship qualities on development are pervasive and long-lasting. Despite the critical role that siblings play in each other’s lives, sibling relationships have been somewhat neglected by researchers and the general public. A basic understanding of the power of sibling relationships in shaping life-course development was demonstrated in the founding document of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions—the book of Genesis. The rivalry of the first siblings, Cain and Abel, led to fratricide and exile. Abraham banished Isaac’s half brother, Ishmael, and his mother to the wilderness. Jacob and Esau clashed over parental favoritism and inheritance, leading to parent–child coalitions and ...

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