Publication Date

Spring 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Blair Thompson (Director), Jennifer Mize Smith, and Jieyoung Kong

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Sibling relationships transcend all other relationships. Described by scholars as “cradle to grave,” no other relationship is as long-lasting as the sibling relationship. Although one of the longest relationships any one person will be a part of in their lives, siblings communicative research is widely understudied. Specifically, supportive communication and the role birth order plays in sibling communication are important to examine. This study sought to explore topics of sibling support, the role birth order played in providing (or not providing) support, and the differentiation between sibling and parental supportive communication. Through qualitative methods of investigation, open-ended questions were answered by five same-gender sibling dyads (10 participants). The responses of these participants developed into four separate themes to explain the sibling communicative relationship. There is no topic too broad or taboo that siblings expressed they couldn’t talk to their other sibling about, and parental advice was described as outdated when siblings explained why they sought advice from their sibling over their parent. Similarly, firstborn children expressed an innate obligation to be supportive of their younger siblings, even without being told this message from their parents. The findings of this qualitative study are presented such that they can be used to further justify the importance of studying the unique communication between siblings.


Communication | Family, Life Course, and Society | Leadership Studies