We’re thinking about kid #2. My husband is all about engineering the perfect spacing for an ideal sibling relationship. Is there even such a thing? – Spaced Out

Dear Spaced Out,

Not really. And it’s too bad, because if there were, it would be a lot easier for some of us to take the leap. If some authoritative voice came out in support of, say, exactly thirty-to-thirty-six months between kids, many long hours of debate between parents would be averted. Alas, while there is a supposedly ideal window for subsequent children, it’s a rather wide one, and it has more to do with the safety of the pregnancy and birth than familial relations. For optimum health of the mother and baby, a spacing of between eighteen months and around five years is considered best. Less or more time can mean higher risk of complications for both, though certainly there are scads of people who did fine on both extremes.

From a psychological standpoint, there are pros and cons to all age differences. Close siblings can have more in common in some ways, and it gets the baby phase over with sooner. More distance means more undivided attention from parents (not to mention more recovery time for the whole family). Though your husband’s impulse is admirable, a family dynamic is really not something you can engineer. Age difference is just one in a mess of factors that affect how kids get along. You can have “Irish twins” who rub each other the wrong way, and kids with a strong connection despite a five-year age difference. The right time for round two is whenever you decide to do it.

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Article Posted 10 years Ago

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