Congruence between Mothers' and Fathers' Differential Treatment of Siblings: Links with Family Relations and Children's Well‐Being

Susan M. McHale, Ann C. Crouter, Shirley A. McGuire, Kimberly A. Updegraff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

149 Scopus citations

Abstract

We studied patterns of mothers' and fathers' differential treatment of firstborn (average age 10.5 years) and secondborn (average age 8 years) school‐age siblings, and we examined the links between parents' differential treatment and children's well‐being and dyadic family relationships. Mothers, fathers, and both siblings in 110 families were interviewed in their homes. For each dimension of parental behavior that we assessed (i.e., differential affection and discipline) we created groups of families that reflected mothers’and fathers' levels of differential treatment (e.g., discipline the firstborn more, equal treatment, discipline the secondborn more). Although we detected substantial correspondence between the 2 parents' differential treatment, we found a sizable group of families in which parents' reports were incongruent (i.e., 1 parent reported equal and the other differential treatment). Parental patterns were linked to differences between the siblings' well‐being and both sibling and parent‐child relationships, with younger siblings exhibiting greater vulnerability to differential treatment. Incongruence in differential warmth was associated with marital distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-128
Number of pages13
JournalChild development
Volume66
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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