The Effects of Age Difference between Siblings

· March 28, 2018
If you’re planning to start a family and you’re asking yourself what the best age difference between siblings is, you may find this article helpful. 

This is a question that many parents ask themselves when thinking about having children. However, the decision is of course up to each couple.

Age difference between siblings is a subject of debate and, unfortunately, there’s no universal truth. 

It all depends on the experiences and preferences of each family. Below, we’ll analyze the pros and cons of each choice.

Choosing the age difference between siblings

Should siblings be just one, two, or three years apart? Or should the age difference between siblings be even greater, making those newborn months a little easier? 

What’s better? Millions of parents around the world ask this question every day.

The answer to these questions will depend on who you ask. According to each person’s personal experience of childhood, everyone will have different opinions to offer on the subject. 

What you need to know is that all options have their pros and cons, like just about everything else in life.

That’s why, in this article, we want to go over the main aspects that make up this complex decision.

Advantages to keeping your children close together in age

  • Education: You’ll be able to offer them similar upbringings, as they’ll pass through childhood, puberty and adolescence at almost the same time.
  • Companionship: If your children get along well – something that depends very much on you as parents – then they’ll always have a friend to count on. Furthermore, they can help one another with homework, chores, or do sports together. When they’re older, they may even share groups of friends and all hang out together.
  • Practicalities: Many parents say they get used to changing diapers, going without sleep, and – in the case of mothers – breastfeeding. So, if another child comes shortly after the other, parents are already used to the daily rhythm of life with a baby.

“What really matters is that children grow up in a favorable environment, with the affection of their parents and the attention they deserve”

The downside of a smaller age gap

  • Double the work: When you have two or more small children, the demands multiply. This is especially true if you have more than one child in diapers at the same time, or you have a hard time establishing a sleep routine.
  • Double the costs: In the same way, what you spend on diapers, hygiene products and clothing will also multiply.
  • Jealousy: When children are close in age, it’s common for them to feel jealous when their sibling receives something they don’t. This is a delicate issue to keep in mind.

Advantage to waiting longer before having another child

  • A personal protector: When the age gap is larger between siblings, older brothers and sisters naturally assume the role of “guardian.” Besides just looking out for their little sibling’s safety, they also act as advisers, providing very helpful guidance based on their own experiences.
  • Less conflicts of interest: If there are several years of age between siblings, then they won’t fight over toys, and they won’t argue (as much) about TV rights or who gets to ride in the front seat.
  • The older sibling provides a different vision of the world: A big brother or sister can transmit things like culture, music, and just about any other type of tastes and knowhow that produce a more open perspective of the world. Without a doubt, older siblings are an indispensable source of knowledge.
  • Big brothers and sisters help out with child-raising: When they reach a certain age, older siblings can help care for their little brothers and sisters. They can also be responsible for certain household tasks to give their parents a hand.
  • Savings on clothing and other items: Your younger children can inherit things that your older child no longer uses, such as clothing, furniture, school supplies, etc.

“When brothers agree, no fortress is so strong as their common life”
–Antisthenes–

The downside to a larger age difference between siblings

  • Jealousy: Just because a child is older, doesn’t mean he won’t feel left out. It’s important to make your child feel just as important as always, even with a new sibling in the home.
  • Getting back into the swing of things: Parents will have to sacrifice the independence they gained with the growing up of the other sibling. The arrival of a younger sibling means going back to the intense demands of a newborn.

Obviously, there will be common denominators between all of your children, no matter what the age difference.

If the age difference is small, this will be noticeable every day in their games, shared activities and conversations.

If siblings are farther apart, you’ll still notice their bond at specific moments. However, they’ll have less daily activities in common.

Just the same, there’s nothing sweeter than seeing your youngest look up to her older sibling, and watching your oldest love and care for your little one.

As we stated above, the choice of how long to wait before having more children is up to each couple. Besides the details mentioned above, finances and emotional factors will also play a role in the decision-making process.

What really matters is that children grow up in a favorable environment, with the affection of their parents and the attention they deserve. 

In the long run, your children will surely come to adore one another, no matter how far or close together they are in age.