Friday, July 9, 2010

The Widening Gap

Something has been on my mind lately. Lukas is three now, and at least for the foreseeable future an only child.

Mrs. LIAYF and I do plan on bringing another child into our household but, as with Lukas (whom we waited nearly 5 years for), we are not sure how long that child will take to materialize. Even if this happened within the next year, which is a very small possibility, The age difference between him and a brother or sister will be at least 4 years. Most likely more.

Is this a problem? I would hope not, but the thought does cross my mind. I grew up with a sister who was two years older than me and a brother who was my Irish twin, being 9 days less than a year older than I am. Mrs. LIAYF had two sisters with the age gap between all three being 6 years.

True, this was often a recipe for disagreements, and many outright fights. But it was also terrific for us to always have someone on hand to play with, at all hours of the day. In fact, my early childhood memories are dominated by playing every game imaginable with my brother and sister. They are predominantly good memories.

My wife, son, and I now live in the most populated neighborhood in our city, and there are many kids of various ages on our block. Plus, come September, Lukas will once again be attending the same preschool with many of the friends he spent his daycare days with. In short, he has a lot of playmates his age with which to visit.

However, much of our time is spent at home, with just the three of us. He loves playing with Mrs. LIAYF and I during that time at home, but as he gets older I can see that it would be great to have another member of the family who was as enthusiastic as he is about his toys and who was not also often distracted by life's task list.

My biggest concern is that the age gap between siblings is in danger of becoming so wide that when one comes along they will not be the best playmates for each other. Maybe, because I love my son as much as I do, I am reading too much into the fact that he won't have a sibling close to his age as he grows up. Perhaps it won't be a big deal to him at all.

I sure hope that's the case.

I have a lack of experience here readers. So tell me, did you have siblings who were withing 4 years of your age? And if not, what were your experiences not having a built in playmate to experience the ups and downs of childhood with?


Keith Wilcox said...

I have a twin sister and a sister 3 years older. My boys are 17 months apart in age. As homeschoolers, I'm glad they're close in age because they play really well together. My dad has 7 brothers and sisters, the closest being 5 years older than him (he's 22 years from the oldest). He says that because he was so much younger, his sisters used him as a doll.

My impression is that they probably won't play as well together as twins or siblings who are closer in age, but that doesn't mean they won't have a different, in some ways, better relationship. Especially there being perhaps only 2 kids in the picture. Each will get his own, independent, parenting technique, and neither will be competing with the other. I'd say that might just produce an even stronger relationship over time.

Juli said...

I had a sister 18 mo younger, and a brother 6 years younger. I was, and still am, closer to my sister. Perhaps it's the age, or the girl thing. My boys are just 16 months apart, and although the road has been hard, and ultimately led to my divorce, I wouldn't have done it any other way. My boyfriend's boys are 9 years apart and both boys say it was like being an only child. Bottom line: Only children always want siblings, and siblings always wanted to be onlys.

Surfer Jay said...

Whenever you decide to have another child, it will only be postive. Having a sibling of any age is awesome. Close in age, or several years bewteen, only means the relationship will be different than the other, not worse.

I have four brothers and we are all within 7 years of age. And it was awesome. We all became friends with everyone elses friends because we were close.

Surfer Jay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lauren Wayne said...

We're having the same thoughts and questions. We have one 3-year-old as well.

My older brother is 4 years older, but we were so dissimilar in temperament and interests that I can't imagine we'd have been buds even if we'd been closer in age. More likely, we'd have been grating on each other's nerves even more. As it was, we were each able to do our own thing, and it was fine when we did. Now we're grown, we get along a lot better than we did growing up.

My younger brother was a surprise at 9 years younger. I bet we could have been playmates if we'd been closer spaced, but as it was, it still worked out well. I was able to help care for him a lot (which I liked), and now we're grown, we have a good relationship, too.

My philosophy is you don't get to choose how well siblings get along. You could have two kids spaced a year apart who hate each other, or kids spaced five years apart who are fast friends (or vice versa, and I've seen it all those ways). I figure just have them when you want/can and let it all shake out as it will. But we'll see, huh?

Pam said...

i was a single mother for almost 10 yrs when i married my ex-husband. he and i knew we wanted kids right away especially me since i was already nearing 30. my son was very good w his sister, but with a 10 yr age difference, you can only do so much w your sibling. this is why i knew i wanted to have at least one more child. one that could grow up with my daughter and so two years later my younger daughter was born. i was 32 (i didn't want children past the age of 40). those two are the best of friends even though they fight like cats and dogs. i think that the amount of the gap can make a big difference. at my old job, i had a customer who had a 17 year age difference b/t him and his brother. needless to say, they never really had anything in common. my kids are now 23, 13, and 11. i'm also glad my youngest was a girl, too. not sure how the whole bro and sis thing would go even though my bro and i (18mos apart) were very close when we were young. i haven't talked to him in about 4 yrs :o/ but that's another story for another time lol

i don't have a ff up, but i hope i can get something up tomorrow. it's gonna be about teens and drama lol

Knatolee said...

I'm an only child, my husband is an only child, and we both LOVED being only children!! I grew up next to a family of nine and never seemed to have any trouble finding playmates! :)

AlanTK said...

My wife and I are having a lot of the same conversations. Our son is just shy of 16 months and we think it would be great for him to have someone to him close-ish in age to hang with.

My brother is about seven years younger than me and I wouldn't call us close. I mean, I love him. But we were at such different stages in life once I hit high school and, as a result, went through some mutual periods of animosity growing up. I hated being the built-in baby sitter when I was ready to be more independent. He hated that I went away to college. As adults, we talk, but it's almost like we grew up in not only different households, but different generations.

SciFi Dad said...

My younger sister is 15 months my junior, so yeah, I had a sibling close in age. We played a lot as really young kids, but by the time I was 8 or 10, we only fought. That lasted until I left for university, when we assumed a more grown-up relationship/friendship.

My kids are 3.5 years apart, and they now play together sometimes. Other times, both kids want their own space. But yes, even at this age gap, playing together isn't as hard as you think.

That being said, however, once the kids develop social circles outside the home, they're probably more likely to splinter from their sibling relationship and become closer to peers, especially if there's a gender difference as well. (At least that's my opinion.)

Jessi said...

My kids are four years apart and will be five years apart in school. They get along fine. They fight like siblings, and they hug like siblings. I think that's a perfectly acceptable age gap. I did it on purpose because I didn't want them to be too close in school. This way they are less likely to be held to their sibling's standards. I hope.

Me and my baby brother are 13 years apart. Which explains why I still use the term "baby" for an 18 year old. I can't even explain the super-special bond we have. He is the third most important person in my universe (below my girls but above my husband). I don't think there is a gap too big.

James (SeattleDad) said...

@Commenters - Thank you all for your very insightful thoughts on this subject. I will take away something positive from each and every one.

Being us... said...

Jacob and his brother are 2 years and 4 days apart, and we just found out that we are expecting #3 which will be 18 months apart from his brother and 3 1/2 years apart from Jacob. I know that no matter what would have happened all children are a blessing so as I always say be happy with what you get and when you get it.... even if God only gives you Lukas!!! He is a wonderful boy!

Anonymous said...

Our boys are 3 years & 9 months apart. They played a lot of Legos and light sabers together when they were younger, but puberty happened and there seems to be a huge gap between an early teen and an older elementary. The early teens are so self-conscious and cannot wait to distance themselves from the interests of "little kids" so there are not a lot of things they will do together now except teenager type video games. The teen is too "cool" to play Legos or Nerf guns, etc. However, they have been really close up till now, and I am looking for them to be close again once they are both into their teens. My brother is 5 years younger than me, and we are not close, but I think that has more to do with extreme differences in personality and belief systems than with age. Even after having that experience, it is surprising to me how different my own two are with respect to temperament and interests. You would think I would have figured that out by now. They certainly each got a completely different spin of the genetic never can tell. Missy

Irrational Dad said...

I had a dysfunctional family growing up, but my wife was VERY close to her sisters, who are within a few years of each other. This was the primary reason for us working on having another baby before Tyler turns 3... we just found out were are pregnant a couple weeks ago. I'm new to this too, but am overjoyed that Tyler will have a sibling just a couple years younger than he.

writtendad said...

I have a brother who is about 5 and half years younger and a sister who is about 4 years older (yes, I'm the dreaded middle child) and I think the age gap between my brother and myself made a difference. We all were and are very close to this day, but he was just a little too far behind for me to really "play" with. By the time he was 3 or 4, I was 8 or 9 and on to bigger and better things. So, i short, I think the gap can really make a difference.

And I've been thinking about this too. We both decided to do the only child thing but, every so often, we really wish he had someone to play with. However, he's already six, so there would really be a HUGE gap and then, at that point, we would have another "only child." It's a really tough call.

Anonymous said...

I think all these comments just point to the fact that you never know what is going to happen when you add another child to the mix. I have 2 older sisters. The one closest to me in age always acted like my 2nd mother and because of that our relationship was strained. We get along better now that we are older, but I am a little bit closer to my oldest one who is 5 years older. You just can never tell.

Just follow your heart man.

Otter Thomas said...

For what it is worth here is my experience. My brother is 7 years younger than me. Growing up I taught him everything and treated him like my child more than my brother. I gave him everything I could even though I left home for good when he was only 11. We were very close, but it developed into an unhealthy relationship that fell apart after we both got married.

Because of my experienc I want my kids to be closer together, but there is no guarantee how any siblings will get along no matter what ages they are.

Mrs. M said...

I have a sister 11 months younger than me and a sister about 3.5 years older. I definitely played more with the one who was closer in age, but I also remember playing with the older one too. Always good to have a big brother or sister watching your back!!

Rachael said...

My sister and I are almost exactly 2 years apart, but were 3 years apart in school. I always thought it was perfect because it was close enough we could sort of share friends when it was neighborhood kids, but far enough we had our own friends and were not too close in school. As adults, we are very close.

Because of our gap, that's what I always wanted for my children - 2 years apart. We ended up with kids almost exactly 4 years apart. Now, I think it will be better because our 4 year old is a little behind and he just would not have been able to handle us having a baby when he was 2, he would not have understood and I think it probably would have been a disaster.

My best friend has three kids who are currently 8, 6 and 2. The last one was a surprise. The older kids, especially the younger of the two, do play with her and they seem to get along really well, which has given me encouragement that my kids will too.

Lady Mama said...

There are so many benefits to having children further apart. My brother and I are 10 years apart. We got on brilliantly (still do), and he was able to help my parents out a lot as I was growing up - around the house, babysitting, etc. I think whatever the age gap is for your kids, it will be okay. And speaking as someone who had two close together, I think it will be nice to have a bit of a break in between. And at least you'll get to sleep a bit before you return to the newborn stage.

Anonymous said...

There are nearly five years between my brother and I. Not only that, but we couldn't be much more different from each other. I was the straight laced, college bound, going to take over the world kind of guy. He was the long haired, just wanted out of school so I can play guitar kind of guy.

I wasn't always the brother he needed and he had a rough stretch with my dad while I was away at college. Now that we are both fathers and live close to one another for the first time in ten plus years things are good.

My kids are 26 months apart, so I"m hoping they'll be close by the fact that they won't be that much far apart in age. But I guess there are no guarantees.