Having children in different generations brings with it some of the best aspects of family and some of the least. I thought I would share with you from experience the pros and cons of having children a decade apart, especially for those of you considering another child. My first was born at the end of the 90s and will be 15 next month and my youngest was born at the beginning of the 00s, turning 4 in just a few weeks. They’re almost exactly 11 years apart, having grown up in completely different worlds from each other, in different eras and also lifestyles. Through it all they still have the closeness that brothers share, each in their own way.
I want to state that I am not a doctor, a psychologist or otherwise. This is just my opinion from experience.
Most people would think that having a second child so far apart from the first would give you an advanced insight into the road ahead. This is not necessarily true. I found the longer I waited on having a second child the less I seemed to realistically recall the first. Since my children are over 10 years apart, so many things had changed from then to now. There was a slew of knowledge out there that didn’t exist when my first was born. The internet was just beginning to come to fruition in the late 90s and was seen as more of a terrifying addiction than the necessary tool that it is now. What help I received was from my parents and siblings, for good or ill. So by the time I became pregnant with my second child I had the world at my fingertips! All the knowledge one could dream of, doctors at the ready and they even had hospitals set up with natural birthing rooms! I can only imagine what it will be like in another ten years!
The other thing that changes within such a great span of time is You. I had my first when I was single teen struggling on my own and my second when I was a married homemaker with a family, but it doesn’t have to be as drastic as that circumstance. The expanse of time between your kids could change how you view things, your choices and where you are in your life. You could be ready to settle right back into early Motherhood or you could find yourself struggling with the idea of having to start all over again.
Starting over again isn’t an easy choice. I was always telling people I would be in Fiji sipping a martini while they were having kids at 35 (when my son turned 18). So the idea of having another child when my son was ten and already capable of doing things on his own was a big decision. Since I had my first so early in my life, I was pretty happy with the idea of starting my own life, but eventually I realized that it wasn’t costing me my life to have another child. I was adding on to it in ways I never realized at the time.
I call my youngest my second-first because having another child in a different generation was like having another first child. Their needs are completely different. I never had to split myself in two between my children and their wants. Just as I would an only child, most of my time is devoted to my youngest because he needs more. My oldest, who spends most of his time talking to his friends and playing video games, doesn’t really want to hang around on Mommy all day and he’s already potty trained! Here in a few years my oldest will be leaving off into the world on his own and that leaves the latter years with my youngest all to himself. So it is honestly like having two first children, each of them having gotten all the attention when they needed it the most.
And for some Moms there is also the benefit of having an in-home babysitter! Unfortunately my youngest is a handful at times and with his developmental delays, even his big brother has a hard time understanding certain things he wants or needs so he’s been exempt from babysitting. However, I know lots of Moms with different generation kids who enjoy this benefit. Just don’t abuse it! Kids are meant to be kids. However, I can say that I’ve had a lot of help from my oldest over the years in watching over his little brother when I needed to leave the room, getting things we needed and helping around the house. That’s a benefit not a lot of Moms with multiple younger kids have!
I think the only real Con I’ve come to see with having kids in different generations is what most Moms understand and why they reason to have their kids so close together; the sibling bond. My sister and I are only a year and a half apart and she’s my best friend. When we were young we used to hate each other, but we did mostly everything together; even having our first children a month apart. My oldest is actually closer to his cousin than to his brother because they grew up together, they did everything together and being so close in age they understand one another in a way that his brother couldn’t. I know that growing up my youngest will always look up to his big brother and want to be just like him, but in many ways I don’t think they’ll have that bond that my sister and I, or my son and his cousin have. They’ll always be brothers, deeply bonded by blood, but whether or not they grow into friends only time will tell.
Having a second while your first is older is also a great lesson! Since my teen has had to see over the years what it takes to take care of an infant/child and now toddler, he’s more apt to understand that it is a lot of work and something that is easier with a partner than the lack of one. He also has realized how much I’d done for him when I was a single mom taking care of him on my own and he’s learned a great deal of appreciation that generally doesn’t come until later on in life.
For me, I have the pleasure of seeing my oldest son grow into a man while still having a little guy to hold onto. It doesn’t hurt so much to let go because I know what is coming ahead, for both of them. On the same token, I know how fast time goes now and I know how little I have of it with my youngest before he is off wanting to start his own life. Having different generation kids gives you the ability to be both in the past and the future at the same time, while holding dearly onto the present.
Having just had my niece over recently and trying to chase down two toddlers at the same time while attending to each of their needs while the other is upset, I realized that this was the most perfect form of parenting for me. I have the gift of being able to be there for each of my sons in different ways. I can spend half the morning singing Chuggington and playing with cars and then the other half watching movies or talking about video games, in the middle we can all meet up and go out and enjoy eating pizza or visiting the library (something we all like to do together). And those are the best moments, the times when we can all bridge the gap and come together in the middle.
So if you are wondering what it would be like to have a child so far apart from your last, it’s not at all disappointing. I consider myself lucky in so many ways and this is the greatest of them. This month I celebrate my youngest sons 4th birthday and next month I celebrate my oldest’s 15th, they’re both growing upwards at their own pace and in their own time, but the one thing that is always constant is me. Mom(my).