Q&A: Having children closer to age or further apart

Q: Are children happier when they’re closer in age, or is it better to plan them farther apart? My husband and I are discussing having another baby, but we aren’t sure if it’s the best thing for our one-year-old son and the dynamics of our family.

A: We’re happy to know that your parenting experience has apparently been positive to where you want to add to the blessing of your family. That’s fantastic!

As for your question, we’re afraid there really isn’t a simple answer. The significance of “age-spacing” and its impact on sibling relationships will vary from family to family. Nevertheless, there are some things to consider.

Children of the same sex born within two years of each other are more likely to develop close bonds and enjoy mutual companionship than those spaced farther apart. But they’ll also have more opportunity for conflict and competition. A great deal of good can come out of close sibling relationships of this nature provided mum and dad are involved and manage the details wisely.

Children born four or more years apart will probably experience less camaraderie growing up. This may translate into a more peaceful household, but the challenges can also simply assume a different character. For example, if the older and bigger child displays aggressive behaviour, then ensuring safety for the younger child will be a priority. If, however, the older child is mature and cooperative, mum and dad may be tempted to place too many adult responsibilities on his shoulders. A child in this position needs to be encouraged to play and allowed to be a child.

In the end, there may be more important reasons for planning a baby at a particular time than the ages of the existing children. Of far greater significance is mum’s health, the desire for another child, possibly financial considerations, and the stability of the marriage.

​​© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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