Thursday, January 29, 2009

Spacing of Siblings

Once you've settled into your new family role and your little one begins walking and talking, you may find yourself missing that little being that needed you so much, such a short time ago. For many couples, this is the time they start thinking of having another baby.

Many women ask, "When is the right time to add to our family?" It's a very personal decision and one that needs to be well thought out. Work commitments, family financial needs, and the health of the mom can all play key roles in the spacing of sibling births. How you and your partner view the idea of family and how many children you each wish to have, needs to be taken into account.

There are both advantages and disadvantages of spacing your children's births close together or farther apart. If the children are within two years of each other, they're more likely to accept another sibling because they wouldn't remember much about having the parent's undivided attention. They're more likely to adjust to each other easier, and be more content to play together on somewhat the same level, helping them form that special bond.

Children spaced farther apart, tend to grow farther apart as they mature and each goes their own way. The relationship shares less in common over the years, but usually develops a kind of hero worship of the younger to the older sibling, and a protector or guardian role for the older toward the younger. Spacing children farther apart can allow more focus on an individual child's interests, seeing their activities as their own rather than following along behind the other for convenience sake.

If the children are born close together, you will get through the baby years of bottles, diapers, and potty training pretty much all at once. This can be a most exhausting and challenging period in parenthood. Just think of having two children in diapers. The cost alone is staggering. On the good side, you won't have to purchase so many of the necessary items all over again.

When siblings are born further apart, there is more of a demand put on you for your undivided attention. An older child can feel left out or pushed aside, sometimes resulting in inappropriate behavior in order to get attention. With a little guidance, on the other hand, an older sibling can be a tremendous help to you in simple tasks that are age appropriate, such as: picking up after themselves, occasionally changing diapers, or playing or reading to the baby while you're preparing dinner. Praising your child for being a big help to mom can provide positive reinforcement, encouraging them to repeat these behaviors in the future. Making time to spend with each child alone is important. An older child needs to feel special and that can require more adjustment time when new siblings enter into the family picture.

Either way you look at it, there is no "perfect" formula in the spacing of siblings. Kids are kids. They have to be taught right from wrong and how to respect their siblings regardless of the age distance between them. All of us who had siblings growing up have "fond" memories of our sibling relationships. Remember how well you always got along with your brothers and sisters? Just like the Brady Bunch.

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