Childrearing

Don’t Listen To The Parenting Advice, There Is No Optimum Age Gap Between Kids

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siblingsI hate to break it to those moms that just love giving advice to other women on how and when to procreate, but there is absolutely no optimum age gap between kids. I say this as one of three children that were all evenly spaced out, two years apart. My parents had kids like clockwork. And while it seemed to be the right choice for their family at the time, I don’t think that doing it differently would have drastically changed our lives any.

For over two years now, my husband and I have been trying to conceive a second child. When we started this process, our daughter was two and a half. If we had gotten pregnant right away, our kids would have been an acceptable and completely normal three years apart. The longer our journey to have a child goes, the more time that separates our first and second children. Suddenly, we’re talking about kids that will never go to the same school. They will always been in completely separate stages of life. It’s a point that well-meaning friends and family bring up frequently.

A friend of mine recently asked me about the time between my first and possible second child. She was honestly concerned for me. “Having kids too far apart is just so hard,” she explained. “You aren’t ready to get back into that baby phase. Your older child always wants to do things that the younger can’t. It’s just a complete mess.”

The situation was kind of hysterical, because just a day before, my sister-in-law was talking about why our large gap would be a good thing. “When kids are older, they’re so much more ready to be a good sibling. There isn’t nearly the fight for attention. The younger has a great role model. And you can really appreciate each stage separately, instead of throwing everything together for them.” She was all about her kids almost seven year gap.

Guess what guys? Both women were talking about their own experience and why it was the right way to go. They were both positive that I would want to do things like them, because in both cases, everything worked out.

I love both of these ladies. I think they’re both right. There were positives to each circumstance. And there are negatives as well, things that more pessimistic people might have pointed out about the opposite choices.

When people give parenting advice, be it about age gap between birth or any other host of issues, they’re most often telling you to do things like they did. They’re trying to reaffirm that they made the right choice, and that’s why you should follow it. The problem is that this approach ignores that each family is different. And each family might have their own path to take.

When it comes to age gap, there’s no perfect number. My grandmother had three kids, a set of twins and then another child, all in 13 months. My husband’s family has more than a decade spacing out their kids. Both families grew up just like they were meant to. Every set of siblings has problems, but that wouldn’t changed if you had waited another year before having kids.

Parents give lots of advice to each other. Normally it’s well-intentioned and harmless. But don’t let anyone make you feel like there’s a right way to space your children. Brush off those concerns about having kids too close or waiting too long. Each family is formed exactly as it’s meant to. When it comes to the age gap, there is no magic number.

(Photo: MaszaS/Shutterstock)