Older children can greatly help younger siblings during times of economic stress, according to an on-going study being done at Iowa State University. Research scientist Katherine Conger says the project has determined those elder siblings can succeed when the parents are failing as role models.Younger children who have older siblings for a support network often do better in school and feel better about themselves. Conger is a researcher at I-S-U’s Institute for Social and Behavioral Research. She says stressful economic times can make parents sink into a depression and become pre-occupied and even hostile toward their children.The research was started during the 1980s farm crisis to study the effects of economic changes on families. It involves hundreds of families, primarily in northern Iowa. Conger says when a child does not have an older sibling to turn to for support, they sometimes have to look a little harder.She says other adults, like grandparents, neighbors, coaches and teachers can be important figures in a child’s life during times of stress. Conger says there is limited research on sibling relationships, especially during adolescence. She says this study aims to fill in research gaps to better understand the importance of the lifelong relationships of siblings.
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