Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

Committee Chair(s)

Dave Robinson


Dave Robinson


Ryan Seedall


Shawn D. Whiteman


Siblings play a large role in developmental experiences and views of oneself. However, most research addressing siblings looks at individuals who grow up close in age with their siblings. What is currently known about sibling relationships does not seem to fit for those who have siblings but are not close in age to them, referred to in this study as a sibling age gap.

To learn more about what it was like to grow up with siblings who are much older, I interviewed 11 individuals who were the youngest siblings in their family and five or more years younger than their next oldest sibling. A research team analyzed the data from these interviews and found three major themes that were common among the 11 participants.

These themes were 1) separation of lived experience, meaning participants expressed having vastly different childhood experiences than their siblings, 2) Connection, most participants expressed wishing they could be emotionally closer to their older siblings, and 3) searching for identity, as many of these participants spent a lot of their time trying to measure up to their siblings so that they could be noticed, accepted, and included.