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  1. #1

    When is an age difference too big between siblings?

    Not a mum-to-be, but I felt this was the best place to put this, and I wanted the opinions of you lovelies.

    I always thought I had a pretty big age difference between my siblings and I; I'm 12.5 years their elder, but I've recently met a family who are full of absolutely MASSIVE age differences.

    First I met E. He has a full sister 2 years his younger, a full sister 9 years his younger and a maternal half sister 23 YEARS his younger. He also has three step or adopted siblings (he isn't sure which, he doesn't speak to his mother) who are 21, 23 and 26 years his younger.

    I also met S, who has a maternal half-brother 5 years her younger, a maternal half brother 12 years her younger, a maternal half brother 15 years her younger and a maternal half sister 21 years her younger. She also has half sister who are 5 years and 2 years her elder.

    Her step-cousin T has a stepbrother the same age as her, a stepbrother 3 years her younger, a maternal half sister 8 years her younger, a paternal half brother 7 years her younger, and twin paternal half siblings who are 11 years his younger.

    E is close to his full sisters, but is like a parent to his half-sister. He's never met the step/adopted siblings.
    S is close to her eldest half brother and step sisters, but barely knows the rest.
    T is close her her maternal half sister, and is getting closer to her paternal family and stepbrothers, but says the age difference and culture difference makes it really hard.

    I too love my siblings to bits, but am not very close to them at all.

    When do you personally think an age difference between siblings makes a relationship very difficult? Personally, I think anything above 10 years, maybe even 5, makes thinks difficult.
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  2. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    686
    I don't feel like age differences between siblings can ever be too big (or too small.) So much depends on the particular way that the family works. My husband is 14 years older than his little sister. They did not grow up in the same house, but they are just as close as he is with his brother and other two sisters, who were all born within four years of each other. There are generational differences, of course, but these haven't been important in their relationship. It is easy for them to get along, they speak with each other pretty often, and they have a lot in common. But then, we count among our close friends couples in their 80s and couples in their early 20s. Age hasn't been a very important factor for us when it comes to selecting friends. If you are a person who feels weirded out when you realize that a friend was born in a different decade, you will probably want a closer age gap for your kids.

    My sister has a 14 year old son and just had a baby girl a few months ago. She says that in many ways, it is much easier because her son is a really helpful kind of guy. And in some ways it is challenging because she wants to be really involved in her son's life and not just let him go play video games in his room all day because that would be easiest. My sister is a great mom, though, and I feel like my niece and nephew will grow up very close.

  3. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    9,657
    Ideally I say 3-4 years difference is the best. I have nieces who are very close their husbands are best friends and the age difference makes no difference that I am aware of.

    I guess at the end of the day it is about people connecting and keeping up with each other not about the years between.
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  4. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    1,672
    It really depends on the circumstances, the way the family works, and what the expectations are. If you want your children to be best friends, it's probably not the wisest thing to have them 15 years apart, but in my experience, large age gaps are not usually planned out like that. It's often: a) due to fertility issues [tried to have children closer in age, but unable]; b) due to relationship issues [younger child or children are with a second spouse]; c) due to surprise or other circumstances not initially planned for [younger child was a surprise; first child was unplanned and parents waited until their circumstances had changed to have more; or parents planned to stop expanding their family, then later felt the pull to have more].

    I have one friend who is 25 years older than her youngest sibling. She's the oldest of 12. They are a pretty close family, although obviously she doesn't know her youngest sister as well as some of the others because she was not living with the family when the little one was born. Still, she loves her sister and visits often. If the older siblings continue living at home or live nearby, they can still be close to the younger ones. On the other hand, I know people close in age to their siblings who either never see them or strongly dislike them. I wouldn't NOT have a child because the age difference would be "too big", though I would probably adjust how I would foster closeness between the siblings.
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  5. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    2,505
    Quote Originally Posted by tarynkay View Post
    I don't feel like age differences between siblings can ever be too big (or too small.) So much depends on the particular way that the family works.
    This.

    My half-brother was 19 years older than me. He is my father's son from first marriage and he never lived with us. When I was little he was traveling all the time (and we were, too, but not together with him) so I didn't see him often, but we had an amazing relationship. I think we would be close if we spent more time together. Unfortunately he died when I was 9.
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