Should I worry about having a large age gap between my kids?

There are pros and cons to a large sibling age gap.
There are pros and cons to a large sibling age gap. Photo: Shutterstock

Should I be worried about a big age gap between my kids? That's the question one woman has posed to the forum Mumsnet - and it's prompted some interesting discussion about the pros and cons of different family dynamics.

"DSD (dear step-daughter) is 6," the woman writes, adding that she wants to retrain and won't be able to start trying for a baby for around five years. By that stage, she says, her step-daughter will be around 11, "assuming I fall pregnant within the first few months".

"That seems like such a huge age gap," she continues, explaining that she and her partner would like to have two children "with a roughly 2-3 year gap between them".

"But even if I didn't retrain and we started trying now there would still be a seven year gap between them and then a 10 year gap between her and the youngest," the mum writes. "Am I being unreasonable to worry about the age gaps and how we would cope with such vastly different interests between them?" 

Responses to the mama's query were mixed, with many sharing their own experiences both as parents, and as siblings.

For one woman it was a clear no. "There's 11 years between my sister and I, and no relationship," she wrote. "I haven't seen her in 6 years, and am not in a hurry to. She was an only child for 11 years, then her nose got put out of joint by my arrival. She's never forgiven me for being born, basically." The woman shared that she felt she had the worst of being a sibling, "being in her wake, being dragged around to her friends' who had nothing in common with me, rarely getting something just for me as she'd be jealous, even if she was much to old for whatever it was," and the worst of being an only child "not having someone my own age to play with."

And, as a result, she had some strong words of advice: "I'm sure it can work, but I really, really wouldn't recommend it from my personal experience."

Another shared that she felt more like an aunt than a big sister to her much younger brother. "There's 10 years between me and my brother," she said. "Of course I love him to bits but it's not like a brother-sister relationship. And when I was younger I was expected to babysit and basically mother him which I resented."

Others, however, were far more positive about their own large age gaps.

"10 years between my two boys," one mother wrote. "One is 18 and at uni and the other 8 and gets lots of my time now. They have a regular brotherly relationship but obviously have different interests and needs. I do hope they'll be close when they're both adults."

Another wrote of the "amazing bond" between her 14-year-old and two-year-old. "Teen wasn't too fussed when baby was first born but would feed her if I asked him too. As soon as she was more alert/ mobile he's always happy to play with her."

One mum raised the very valid point that a small age gap doesn't necessarily guarantee a close relationship between siblings, either.

"My brothers, despite having the same interests and hobbies have such different personalities that they don't get on with one another even though there's only 3.5 years between them.

"You can't predict anything."