The Invisible Sibling: Family Dynamics & Meeting Everyone’s Needs

The Invisible Sibling: Family Dynamics & Meeting Everyone’s Needs


Sibling relationships are powerful. When a brother/sister is diagnosed with a learning difference or a physical or emotional illness, there is a shift in the family equilibrium. The focus is often primarily on the child with the identified need. Limited hours in a day, work, home, and financial responsibilities add additional stressors for parents who are worried about finding the right support and care. Children are sensitive and very aware of changes in family dynamics. Siblings often feel confused, sad, and resentful about getting less attention than their brother or sister. How do parents recognize a level of distress that unmet needs are causing? What is the long-term impact? Is there a silver lining for the sibling? What are realistic expectations for parents? This presentation will address these questions as well as factors contributing to siblings’ reactions and how they are affected, what is a normal vs. problematic behavior, effective communication skills, and strategies to shift the family scale to a healthy balance for everyone, including parents.