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Sibling Relations in Family Constallations at Risk

Findings from Development-psychological and Family-psychological Studies

Sabine Walper, Carolin Thönnissen, Eva-Verena Wendt, Bettina Bergau



SPI-Materialien, Volume 7

Published by Sozialpädagogisches Institut des SOS-Kinderdorf e.V.

ISBN: 978-3-936085-67-9

ISSN (Online): 2568-9738

Schutzgebühr: 12,50 €
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This publication is out of print.

How do siblings in out-of-home care cope with separation? Under what circumstances is it appropriate to place siblings together and when not?


The authors discuss the importance of sibling relations in different family forms from a family-systemic, attachment-theoretical and structural point of view. They particularly focus on family constellations at risk as well as on the consequences of sibling separation in the context of out-of-home care. Since only few surveys about siblings have been made in Germany, important stimulus for further research studies on this topic is given.

Materialien 7 is the first volume of a topic series in which the results of the international research project "Siblings in Residential Child Care" will be published successively. 


Starting point – fragmentary sibling research and concern of the expertise
Sibling relations – theoretical perspectives and empirical focuses

  • Sibling relations from a systemic point of view
  • Roles and functions of siblings
  • Siblings as attachment figures from the attachment research point of view
  • Dimensions of sibling relations
  • Sibling relations in the course of life

Factors of influence on sibling relations

  • Structural features of sibling constellation
  • Correlations in the family network – congruence, compensation and favouritism

The role of sibling relations in family constellations at risk

  • Family structures at risk
  • Precarious family dynamics
  • Joint or separate placement? Siblings in out-of-home care
  • The role of sibling relations in questions of custody during separation or divorce proceedings

Conclusion and outlook

  • Opportunities and risks for and in sibling relations
  • Residential child and youth care – sibling relations in family-based care
  • Classification of findings, and future research
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