We should talk about the lack of sibling blogs.

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We should talk about the lack of sibling blogs.

I’ve written before about the dominance of parent-led disability blogs over any other type of disability blog. I don’t believe it’s a bad thing per say, but I do think it’s a thing worth acknowledging in its own right.

It’s not surprising that parent-led blogs dominate, say, disability news services; people aren’t looking for events, they are looking for support.

User-led blogs are substantial, and I suspect that they are reinforced elsewhere by social networks that take care of that need. Reddit and tumblr both have very user-led disability communities.

But sibling based blogs are conspicuous by their absence. It’s extremely worrying when the only blogger with a disabled sibling on this list is me. Particularly as I don’t write on sibling issues.

Why don’t I write on sibling issues?

Privacy. Parents have complete control of young children’s privacy. They can be very careful about exactly how much or how little information is shared with the world. They can change names if they like, or genders. And so they can weigh-up the potential emotional cost of revealing aspects of their life against the benefits of helping and supporting people in a similar position. And there is no question that looking at blogs like withalittlemoxie.com, lovethatmax.com, and mostlytruestuff.com that such support has helped so many people. And there is also no question that society accepts unquestioningly the parental right to control the privacy of small children. My favourite illustration of this comes from Buzzfeed:

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On the other hand, siblings have a much more complex informational landscape. Discussing the needs of my brother requires not only breaching the privacy of a 29-year old man but also of his care staff, my parents, and other siblings: none of which necessarily share my views on either any given situation or my evaluation of the privacy costs.

Anonymity is no help. Even with the more common disabilities, if I know the condition, the age difference between siblings, maybe the general area, and a couple of hobbies, then anonymity starts to look pretty thin. (A non-sibling once tried to tell me about a sibling issue related to AAC, and about four sentences in I was like “do you mean L****?” – privacy is *hard*). The relevant population simply isn’t large enough to support anonymity in the majority of cases.

So this is why I don’t blog on sibling issues. I do recommend the forum at sibs.co.uk as a safe space for these things. I recognise that this isn’t ideal, I recognise that much of the rhetoric around intellectual disability is inherently parental and I’m not convinced that’s for the best (an excellent example is the back seat privacy takes, but that’s irritatingly ironic at this point). But I don’t have a solution.

This post germinated during a number of conversations with sensible people, whose contribution can best be recognised by not mentioning their names here. I should say this, I’m not saying that sibling issues are more or less important than those of users or parents, and I’m not attempting to discuss any of the *many* complex emotions involved. I’m just looking at how occupying a different space in the informational landscape can make it harder to be open, public and to support others in similar positions.

EDIT – sensible point from Twitter:

4 thoughts on “We should talk about the lack of sibling blogs.

  1. Adult sibs might be interested in the SibNet on Facebook. SibNet is a closed Facebook group meaning friends and family can see that you belong to something called SibNet, but can’t see what you and others post unless they are members themselves. SibNet has 1600 members from all over the world and it is a remarkably thoughtful and nonjudgmental community.

  2. Hi Joe,

    I’ve also noticed a lack of sibling presence on the web. I think your points are very valid – also I wonder if as siblings we get used to not talking about how we feel/asking for support etc. I certainly didn’t as a child and that has continued into adult life. It’s never occurred to me to write a blog about my siblings, partly because of the privacy issues you’ve mentioned and also because my feelings as a sib are not a familiar talking point for me.

  3. Many of the siblings who post on http://adult-siblings-forum.sibs.org.uk/ told us that it took 3-6 months before they had the courage to post even though the forum is private. They needed to read others’ posts and see that others had similar experiences before feeling comfortable about it. Siblings are often not asked for their views in childhood and honesty about difficult issues and feelings are not always welcomed by adults, so your view Anna is probably shared by many siblings. Not talking about sibling issues as adults may be reinforced by the use of terms such as ‘parent and carer group’ or ‘parent carer’, by organisations and the lack of active inclusion of adult siblings by service providers in family discussions, reviews, etc. Protecting parents feelings also continues into adulthood- we find it very hard to get adult siblings for media case studies for this reason. And of course without more siblings sharing their experiences, there is less peer support…

  4. Semi-OT but I’m calling how the top pic will end up now – Kid has a sense of humor and does indeed submit it to the yearbook, but the committee crops it to only show her face.

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