chapter  26
Siblings
ByJoan Raphael-Leff
Pages 15

Birth of a new baby constitutes a family upheaval and need for realignment of relationships and positions within the family constellation. Where a professional observes parents tolerating excessive aggression or turning a blind eye to vicious attacks on the baby, crisis intervention or family therapy should be considered, possibly conducted by a team of professionals in the home. Gender combinations abound: female mother, male father and either male or female first child; second male or female child means four possible sibling-combinations: male:female; male:male; female:female; female:male. Information from infant observation studies and direct maternal reports indicates that the older child's partial absence from the home paradoxically 'refreshes' the mother to focus her attention on the child upon his/her return home from school. Effects of maternal separation are best modified by early discharge from hospital or frequent visits which centre on restoring the older child's relationship with mother rather than introducing the sibling to the new baby.