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Huge Age Gap Between Siblings?

ScottieMixScottieMix Registered User Posts: 77 Junior Member
edited April 2012 in Parent Cafe
I have spent the last almost fourteen years raising my daughter, who has been perfectly happy to be an only child.

Recently my husband and I received the news that we will be adding to our family in October. I'll have a HS frosh and a newborn.

My D doesn't know yet, we are waiting until I'm out of my first trimester, and I do worry about how a kid who isn't great with change and already is freaking out a little about starting high school is going to handle another huge life change.
Post edited by ScottieMix on

Replies to: Huge Age Gap Between Siblings?

  • anagenesisanagenesis Registered User Posts: 341 Member
    I was also the only child for almost 14 years. In the spring of 8th grade, I got a new baby brother. At first, I was really annoyed because I used to be the center of my parents' attention. I was angry at him because my parents were suppose to pamper ME (yes, I was pretty spoiled).

    Now 4 years later, (I think) I've gotten used to it. Take your daughter out for some special trips just for the two of you. Take some time out of your day to still do some of your routine activities together. My mom and I would cozy up on the sofa and watch SATC reruns every tuesday. I definitely did not like change either. But I think your daughter will come around. And I think I like my brother. Kinda. :rolleyes:

    Bonus: Apparently my mom thinks I'm great as a free babysitter (good for bonding time, babies can be kinda endearing) ;)
  • ignatiusignatius Registered User Posts: 3,126 Senior Member
    My sisters were 15 and 16 1/2 (twins) when I was born. I have no idea how they initially reacted to the news, but from the time I can remember, I had someone's attention. Sisters drove me to the library to get books, took me to the movies, swimming, etc. Hopefuly, your daughter will have as much fun with a little one around, as my sisters seemed to have.
  • HarrietMWelschHarrietMWelsch Registered User Posts: 2,149 Senior Member
    Congratulations, ScottieMix! I have a 21-year-old, an 18-year-old, and . . . an almost-8-year-old. Chances are good that your D will come around to her little sib pretty happily. In our experience, nothing in the world is a better antidote to high school woes and drama than a baby/toddler/adoring little brother or sister. And having a high schooler can help you remain aware of how quickly all the stages of infancy and babyhood pass, which makes it easier to relax and enjoy the baby more, rather than worrying about when it will do x or y. We sure have loved having our caboose. I hope you will, too.
  • paris79paris79 Registered User Posts: 67 New Member
    I had my first two sons before I was 30. Spent my 30's thinking it would be nice for us to have another child...but nothing happened. Lo and behold I became pregnant (surprise!) at 39 and had my third son at 40 1/2! So that is 12 and 14 years between the older boys and my third grader! Starting all over was an adjustment for me, but I think my boys were pretty excited. My oldest started ninth grade 3 months after my youngest was born. Oldest son was busy with his new life in HS. He didn't resent new baby at all but frankly didn't have a lot of time for him either. Middle son was much closer to new baby brother. By the time youngest was 4 his oldest bro was off to college. Now my oldest is back at home going to a local university for grad school and the two have become close. (Now 23 and 8 years old) Oldest son really acts more like 3rd parent, middle son is more "brotherly". It is a bit weird for me because I had my first son a 26 and was one of the younger parents at the elementary school in those days...now I'm one of the older ones, but not the oldest! However I think I'm way more "chill" now...been there, done that. I find people ask me for advice about school, college etc. because I've passed those milestones... small resource for the parents who are just experiencing things for the first time. Not a bad place to be! And oh, BTW.. the "baby" is adored by the family!
  • dragonmomdragonmom Registered User Posts: 5,644 Senior Member
    What wonderful news! Congratulations to you all! While my gap isn't as big (mine were 7 and 10 when the baby came along), you will notice a big difference in lots of ways. So many more new helpful products now - just the difference in car seats is amazing. Let me send a virtual cute baby outfit now!

    I second the idea of taking your D out for one-on-one time after the baby comes. She is still needing you as much as she would have.

    Also - based on the 14 year gap between my H's sisters, not knowing your D at all, but just a general thought - there is the possibility that someone will confuse (or even imply) that your teen is the parent. You might want to have a ready answer rehearsed - for you and for her.
  • teriwttteriwtt Super Moderator Posts: 12,525 Super Moderator
    I will add there are pitfalls to such an age difference. My three brothers are 16 years, 13 years and 9 years older than me. I really only remember the youngest one living at home; do not have any memories of the two older ones living at home as they went to college by the time I had much of a memory. To be honest, it's been a sensitive issue for me as I near 50 and our parents have been gone for several years (although I also experienced frustrations with my family when my parents were still alive); whenever there's a family gathering, I feel left out as the reminisce over times that I was not even alive for. They talk about people, events, places, etc., and then ask me, "Oh, you remember so-and-so, right?" And of course I don't. I hate to say this, but much of this may have to do with the fact that they are men and have always been poor communicators (as personally attested to me by their respective wives - I think they feel sorry for me, but do refuse to meddle) when it comes to family matters. There are many times I wonder how often I will see them in my lifetime as we live over 1000 miles away. I try to maintain some level of communication with the youngest of brothers since, if nature plays its game right, he and I will be the last two siblings alive; his wife died from cancer last May and they had no children, so I do worry about him not 'having anyone', although I know he has great friends, as well as some of our nieces and nephews in close vicinity.

    I guess the female in me has always longed for a closer family connection, and over the years it has become sadly apparent to me that I have to give up that dream. They are at different stages of their lives and to be honest, I much rather enjoy the company of their children, who are now in their 30s. In fact, I am the exact same number of years apart from my oldest niece as I am her father, but because she's female, I tend to be more interested in her life (and I have more communication with her and her sister than I do my brother).

    I also have some cousins who have very similar age differences in their families, and somehow they all seem to have more communication with each other, but it's also a family of four girls and one boy (the boy being the youngest - but there's even a greater age difference between the oldest and youngest than in my family). I always feel envious when I see them together and hear how much they all do together. In the last couple of years, I finally started outright telling my cousins and two remaining aunts that I get next to no communication from my brothers and if there's ever anything important to know, they need to talk with me directly and not assume one of my brothers will call me. I hate putting them in the bad light of poor communicators, but I also got tired of missing out on important news (like not finding out until several months later that my godparents' son had died through a phone call with my godmother).

    I don't know what the answer is... how do you parent your children to instill an appreciation for their sibling when there's such an age difference? How do you teach them the value of family and staying connected as adults? My brothers are not bad people - they are very successful in their personal lives, but just cannot relate to my life, but neither have they tried very much.

    I wish you luck.
  • Ruby_x3Ruby_x3 Registered User Posts: 200 Junior Member
    I'm 17 and have a sister who's 9 years older and 2 brothers who are 12 and 14 years older and I can attest to the feeling of wanting a closer family connection. We live in 4 different countries and although i'm close to my sister, i have very vague memories of my brothers living at home. Since they've all gone on to do their own thing ever since they were 19 or so, i've grown up in a household with my sister who has also left in the last few years. Guys really are bad at staying in touch; my parents are lucky to get a phone call from my brothers once in SEVERAL months. Even my sister, who's only a few years younger than my brothers, say our family is "split and unconnected." I have to say that there was tension growing up because being the youngest by a wide gap, I was always the "spoiled one" and my parents were *only* focused on me and my interests and my activities, and my siblings had to babysit me and was responsible for basically everything. Hah! So that caused a bit of conflict for a while, but my sister and I have grown to be really close over the last several years. Not that that is the source of conflict and the "unconnectedness" for my brothers NOW who are have been grown men for ages, but more that we live so far apart and didn't have that foundation of living at home all together to build and sustain a close relationship.

    I would say try to even out your attention as much as possible and don't let your daughter feel left out as the years go by. And show her continued appreciation for adjusting to this big change and babysitting, etc for the years that follow.
  • sybbie719sybbie719 Super Moderator Posts: 20,901 Super Moderator

    there is 16 years between me and my oldest sister. When I was a kid, it seemed like a life time because she was married and had kids most of my life (I am actually closer to her children, since we are closer in age). I don't remember actually living in the same house with her and most of my childhood, she was just another adult bossing me around.

    As I got older, we got closer because the gap did not seem so big (I even named my child after her). But she was then and still now, my big sister who I thought could do just about anything and the person who I was most in awe of (at least until I had a child) :) .

    I am 7 years older than my little brother and I thought it was great having someone to look up to me the way I looked up to my sister. He was happy telling his friends that he had a sister in high school/college. I always took him and the friends out and went to his football games. When he was 14 and our parents died, I was the one he wanted to live with so it made us even closer.

    At the end of the day, it works out because the love will be there.
  • JEMJEM Super Moderator Posts: 6,579 Super Moderator
    My caboose baby brother was born when I was 11, and it was "cool" for me to play the "little mother." (I admit that I was glad that he was a boy, as I would still reign supreme as "daddy's little girl." Yet I have later yearned for a sister. I was glad to have sisters-in-law eventually.)

    My Girl Scout troop was working on the babysitter badge that year, and eventually we used him for the "how to diaper" segment, with everyone taking turns. I like to remind him of all the female attention he got that day.

    We are fairly close, and get along well.

    My own kids are six years apart, and never attended the same school at the same time. But they do have their own relationship, which is very good, and they will get together and do things independent of us parents, which I love to see.

    Enjoy! Do let us know your D's reaction.
  • zoosermomzoosermom Registered User Posts: 25,968 Senior Member
    My siblings are 10,12, 14 and 16 years older than I am. I know that my parents were happy to have me, but I think you have to consider some of the difficulties. I got much older parents who weren't healthy from about the time I was 9 years old. Which left me as the caretaker for them much too young. I have no memory of young active parents because I never had that. Some of the choices I made as a young adult -- choosing to get married rather than go to college -- were a direct result of my parents' age and health. I was terrified to be homeless. My siblings have a relationship with each other -- they grew up together, but I don't have a sibling relationship with any of them. I get the worst of the conflict and none of the closeness. I think if you are very aware of the potential problems, be careful not to make the younger child into a caretaker (let that child bring you a new youth!) and talk honestly with your daughter about how to create a relationship between your children that isn't a traditional sibling relationship, you will be fine and get all the joy of a new baby. But it is a different configuration with its own challlenges that shouldn't be ignored. Good luck! What a magnificent blessing!!!

    Edited to add that my girls are 9 1/2 and almost 7 years older than my little caboose. I am convinced that since they are girls they've been happy to mother him. The older sister is secretly the love of his life and she "uses" him to go places with her that she doesn't want to go alone or to do things (like see a Disney movie) that she can blame on taking "the baby." THe younger D is tough on him, which is probably a good thing because we all spoil him rotten. I'm not sure what their relationship will be as she moves out into the world and goes to college. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the two of them drifted apart, which makes me sad. I know that the oldest will always be very involved in his life. She also makes boyfriends take an interest in him, which he loves. I wouldn't trade it for anything, but I do notice the lack in his life as in my birth family, but I've loved getting the chance to parent a child again at a more leisurely, confident, grateful pace.
  • manyamilemanyamile Registered User Posts: 148 Junior Member
    We had the exact same thing happen. I became pregnant at 43 with my son while my daughter was a 13 year old in 7th grade. They are 14 years apart in age. Her initial reaction was humiliation because she knew her friends knew how that had happened!! She wanted to go on a school trip and miss the birth of her brother. It worried me that they would not be close. Four years later and they adore one another and all of her friends dote on him. She will be going to college next year and one of her main considerations is that she be able to come home and see him. I have been very careful not to let her feel like a teen mother and do not ask her to babysit on weekends or use her during the week when she needs to study. It changed my daughter's personality for the better. As a teen who was pulling away and becoming less affectionate it pulled her back into the family. Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Thanksgiving have become fun again. The whole extended family of 25 people wore pilgrim and Indian hats at thanksgiving lunch made out of construction paper because my son had made one at preschool and wanted the rest of us to wear them too. It was so funny. My daughter is able to sit and hug her baby brother when she is having teen angst moments and he defends her when we are stern with her - He will say things like "It's OK - everybody makes mistakes - just say sorry" and we all laugh and tension is diffused. My friends who will have empty nests soon are all involved with raising my child - they volunteer to take him to t-ball practice or go play in the park with him on pretty days. He has brought so much joy into everyone's life. He does have one cousin who is one year older than him who he has a sibling type relationship with too. Best Wishes for your family!!!
  • PackMomPackMom Registered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    My sister and brother are 10 and 7 years older than me. I have memories of being my sister's "little buddy" when she was in high sch. She had a car and took me to grade sch. every day of 1st and 2nd grade. We shared a bedroom until she went to college. I'm sure she prob. hated that. Bro. was always a sports star. I remember dragging along to all his games and wishing I didn't have to but still was proud to be "star player's little sister".

    They were so far ahead of me that they were never there for any of my band performances, choir concerts, being varsity cheerleader..all the high sch. stuff. Bro. came to my h.s. grad. Sis did not but made it to my college grad. Bro. missed that one.

    As adults, we are not super close. Strangely enough, both sister and brother individually have more contact with me that they do with each other, mostly because I am always calling, emailing them. I see more of my bro.(we live in same state) than sis. We all get together once a yr. at Christmas. Everyone is cordial but there isn't that closeness. It's never been the tight family relationship that I would love to have. I feel as if I have tried harder than either of them. Our parents passed away years ago. I remember my mother saying she was afraid we would all lose contact with each other once she was gone. I'm doing my best not to let that happen but it's not easy.

    Scottiemix, I was born when my Mom was 37. She always said I kept her "young" because of the natural association with mothers (of my friends) who were ten years younger than she. Even after I was grown and married, those ladies remained her dearest friends for the rest of her life. Congrats to you and here's to "staying young".
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    They are 14 years apart in age. Her initial reaction was humiliation because she knew her friends knew how that had happened!!

    :eek: :eek: :eek:

    Mine are exactly 7 years and 364 days apart.

    Being in the hospital for her 8th birthday did not get me good mommy points, but otherwise it's been pretty good.

    I just have the two- but my sister had her 5th around the time of her oldest's 24th birthday. ( not to mention but her husband, is about 15 years older than her )

    We learn to be flexible, one of the disadvantages of having children over a long period, or late in life means that many of the extended family that we knew or that our other children knew, may not be around. For example my sister's youngest has only one living grandparent. However, we can also consciously reach out and make other contacts with older adults in the neighborhood and the community, to help our kids build a support network.
  • PhysicsMomPhysicsMom Registered User Posts: 231 Junior Member
    I'm an only child, so I have no direct experience with this, but I do want to chime in... I know many siblings that are close in age and yet experience the same "we're only acquaintances" feeling as many above. It seems pretty random to me. My partner and his sister are two years apart and yet can barely be in the same room for an hour without starting a fight. My mother and her brothers are 3 and 5 years apart and she talks to each maybe once a year -- one in particular being almost impossible to pin down; he just doesn't care to communicate.

    When I was growing up without any siblings, I always thought I would be missing out on some sort of support system as an adult -- but I see now that many (maybe most?) siblings aren't particularly close in adulthood. They treat each other like old friends who've had a big fight and have never gotten over it, but still have to see each other on holidays.

    And conversely I know a lot of siblings with large age differences who are able to treasure each other in unique ways since they were never in that close age range where there's intense competition for everything -- where your older sibling's teachers call you by their name and so on.
  • HisGraceFillsMeHisGraceFillsMe Registered User Posts: 4,782 Senior Member
    My brother (the oldest) is 9 years older than my sister and 11.5 years older than me.

    I think what made it hard on him (obviously from what my mom and dad have told me and not what I know) was that not only was he the only child, but he was also the only grandchild for the first 9 years of his life.

    He handled getting one sister okay...my parents had just gotten a puppy. Mom and dad sat my brother down and said they were getting another addition to the family. Brother ecstatically responded, "Another puppy?!!??!"

    Anyway, he dealt with my sister okay. But he was NOT happy when I showed up (I was a surprise) two years later. Probably because he was starting adolescence.

    I agree that we have a non-traditional relationship because I have very few memories of brother living at home...he was gone by the time I was 6 or 7. We have just gotten to know each other in the last several years.

    I will say it's very fun getting to be an aunt at such a young age...my nephew is the joy and love of my life (2.5 years old now).

    I don't think the age gap has to be a big deal. I'm closer to my brother, at 11.5 years between us, than I am with my sister, who is only 2.5 years older than me. My sister and I very rarely talk when I am away at school, yet I talk to my brother at least once a week. Just different relationships, personalities, etc. My sister and I have never gotten along...our personalities are polar opposites and we seem to clash at every turn. My brother and I have lots more similarities that we've discovered over the last year or so, and he's been a great support system to me, especially with all of the peer pressure that comes with going away to school...he never went to college (he's taking online school now), but he experienced lots of that in high school.

    It's funny...my brother and I do more of the "I have to tell you something, but don't tell mom and dad!" now that we're both adults. We rarely even spoke when I was a kid.
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