Differential Effects of Perceptions of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Favoritism on Sibling Tension in Adulthood

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Abstract

Objectives.

We examine the differential effects of perceived maternal and paternal favoritism in adulthood on sibling tension in adulthood.

Method.

Data used in the analysis were collected from 341 adult children nested within 137 later-life families as part of the Within-Family Differences Study.

Results.

Adult children’s perceptions that their fathers currently favored any offspring in the family predicted reports of tension with their siblings, whereas perceptions of mothers’ favoritism did not. Fathers’ favoritism was a stronger predictor of daughters’ than sons’ reports of sibling tension.

Discussion.

These findings contribute to a growing body of research demonstrating the consequences of parental favoritism in adulthood. Equally important, they demonstrate that perceptions of fathers’ current favoritism plays an even greater role in shaping their adult children’s sibling relations than do mothers’ favoritism.

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