You’ve heard some parents say that they want children close in age. That way, they can spend more time together, share more experiences. Other parents feel that having children too close in age leads to unnecessary competition and not enough time to grow up before another child enters the picture.
There is evidence to support both theories. If you’d like to read a complete article on the subject, go to this article on Parenting.com.
In a 1989 article in The New York Times, author Lawrence Kutner writes about siblings that are six or more years apart. He makes a strong case for the advantages of spacing siblings further apart.
Kutner writes about families with “caboose babies” — youngest children who are born when their older sibs are in elementary or junior high.
“With the typical 2-3-year span,” said Dr. Carol J. Eagle, then a clinical psychologist and associate professor of child psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, “there’s a lot more competition between the siblings. When there’s a 6-year difference, it’s pretty hard to compete.”
The younger siblings tend to see their older siblings as parents. Dr. Lucille K. Forer, then a clinical psychologist, said, “I’ve seen it work beautifully. The older child can reach out to the younger child and can be tremendously helpful. The older child sees himself as wiser and more mature.”
The younger child benefits as well, said Dr. Forer. “The younger child has the characteristics of an only child. Only children tend to have good self-esteem.”
Your Thoughts about Age Spacing
As you read these questions, you can answer them and fill in the blanks (mentally or on paper) as either a parent of two or more children or as a sibling with at least one brother or sister. If you’re an only child or the parent of an only, your opinions are just as valued.
- My sibling closest in age and I (my children) are _______ years apart.
- How would I would describe the relationship between the siblings/children closest in age?
- In what ways do they complement each other?
- In what ways do they collide?
- If I could change the age spacing between me and my closest sibling in age (children closest in age) would I do it? (Think about why or why not.)