What is better: small or large age difference?
We never consciously decided on the age differences between our children, in the case of our first three children we couldn’t have controlled the process even if we wanted to, considering the fact that they were concieved via medical intervention.
There’s no room for planning in a situation like that, it’s fortunate enough if the meds turn out to be working and that is when you have to go ahead with it. This is how it happened that there’s three weeks short of three years between BigBoy and BigGirl and there’s 27 months between BigGirl and MiddleOne. If it were up to me, I might have vouched for smaller age differences, but no one asked. Later on life played out in a way that I could experience what it is like to have a small and an even smaller child.
Against all odds, Fourth arrived a mere 18 months after his younger elder brother, and he was in turn followed by LittleOne after a bigger gap of three and a half years. All things considered there’s a bit of everything children-wise in our family: boy and girl, small and large age difference, adolescent and toddler likewise.
Which one is an ideal state? The one that’s least least problematic at any given moment.
I think that just as there’s no single optimal age of having a child, one can’t very well say that a smaller (or a bigger) age difference between children is better than the other. To each his own.
For instance for me the fact that BigBoy was becoming a bit more independent by the by the time his sister arrived made things a whole lot easier. This way my life wasn’t all about changing diapers (obviously right after having dressed them) or trying to simultaneously breastfeed one of them and feed the other. Problems like these could be rectified with three years of age difference between them. There was plenty of other difficulties though: jealousy, rivalry, displays of strength and whatnot.
Of course I later on I went through the phase of having a small and an even smaller child (with only one and a half years between MiddleOne and Fourth), for whom the concept of independence (which at least partially relieves the mother) didn’t exist. Honestly, it was pretty hard on me, especially since I had two other children who also craved my attention.
Later on the tendencies have changed and three years of age difference (not to mention three and a half between the last two boys) have become more depressing than that of one and a half years. In our family those siblings who are closer in age tend to be more noisy and restless, but if need be, they also team up easily and they understand each other better. Larger age difference generates more quarreling, and it’s a lot more difficult to explain why the younger sibling won’t understand something that may seem evident to the older one, and why he or she would be
at times so annoying.
Us parents would like to believe that there are things in raising children that are unchanging, can be fully expected and planned upon, but I have bad news for you: there aren’t, being a parent is a dynamically changing thing, which is constantly molded by the present moment. My experience is that the problems of age differences is just like this. It cannot be interpreted in itselt because it largely depends on the number, gender and disposition of the children. And these are all things that cannot be foreseen.