Are you contemplating to have a second baby?
Know about the pros and cons of smaller and larger age gaps between children to
decide if it is the right time for you to have a second child.
You have one child, and now have the
opportunity to choose when to have the second. In the days of yore, when
our grandparents had as many as 5 or 10 children, the agegap between the
eldest and youngest was anywhere between 6 to 26 years. Those were the
pre-pill days, when contraception was not as widely used as it is now.
So today, how many years spacing between children would be ideal? What
are the things you should consider?
"I have an 8 year old son.
We used to live with my in-laws in a joint family, but moved out a while
ago, and are now a nuclear family. I now want to have a second child. Will
the agegap between my children be too much?"
- Namita Sadarangani
First of all, there is no 'ideal'
age gap. What age gap is ideal depends upon your individual circumstances.
There are certain advantages to a small age gap, and to a large age gap.
It makes sense to consider the pros and cons of both, and then to decide
what is best for you.
Advantages of a Larger Age Gap
If Namita starts planning for a child
now, the agegap between her two children will probably be 9 years. While
that may seem like a large age gap at this stage, consider that when her
elder child will be 29, the younger will be 20, and at that stage the agegap will not seem to be so much. In addition, the elder child will be able
to pass on expert advice in terms of career, personality development and
relationships to his younger brother or sister. If he is well settled at
the age of 30, he will be able to take his sibling under his wing, and
give him or her a good career head start.
Her body has by now completely recovered
from giving birth, and she has had time to nurture herself and get back into shape, ready to give birth a second time.
In another ten to fifteen years,
when her firstborn has moved out of the house, started work in another
city, or gone abroad for further studies, she will start feeling the first
pangs of loneliness. If she has a second child, she will have another ten
years of joy and fulfillment as she watch him or her grow.
If there is a larger age gap between
siblings, the younger sibling gets to mix with the elder sibling's friends,
which is always a good experience for him. Younger kids enjoy hanging out
with older kids, and they also pick up a lot from them (good and bad!),
The older child feels as though he
is 'in charge' of his younger brother or sister. This inculcates a feeling
of responsibility and nurturing in the firstborn.
If the agegap is a little more,
then one child could be in school, while you attend to the second child.
In addition, the elder child would have had his share of individual attention
before his sibling was born.
If the agegap is less, a parent
would not be able to get to know each child as an individual, with likes
and dislikes separate from his sibling. In cases of a larger age gap, parents
can enjoy and get to know each child as an individual.
Advantages of a Smaller Age Gap
While it would be difficult raising
young children with a minimal age gap on your own, it gets easier if you
enlist the support of family and friends. If you have an expert helper
or maid to help you raise the children and look after them, you could definitely
consider having two children close together.
You could spend time with the both
of them together, send them for classes at the same time, and they will
be great company for each other.
They will have common friends, and
will learn to share things with each other. They will be able to play with
the same toys, and with each other.
There will rarely be a moment of
loneliness for the children, as they would be living with their best friend.
The children would, in all likelihood,
have similar interests.
An older child, who has been an only
child for a long time, would find it harder to adjust to a new sibling,
as opposed to a younger child.
In addition, if a mother has a second
child within a couple of years of the first, she is already in the correct
frame of mind. Changing diapers, running around her toddler, are all second
nature to her. If she waits for around three years, and then gets back
to it, she'll probably feel as if she's 'back to square one', but this
way, she can have two children close together and then she is 'free' of
babyhood after around 4 years, as opposed to 8 years.
Whatever you decide, remember that
relationships between siblings can turn out to be great, whatever the configuration.
Figure out what suits you best, keeping time, emotional and economic factors
in mind, and then plan ahead.
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- The Indiaparenting Team