The Great Divide: Parenting Kids 10 Years Apart

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It never fails: strangers with only the nicest intentions comment on the HUGE age gap of my children with something like “WOW! You waited a long time!” or “You were almost done, why did you start over?” “Don’t you want boys?” Then there is always the less offensive “Do they have the same dad?” Of course, I smile and nod and don’t go into my long ordeal of the death of my first husband, infant loss, miscarriages, and secondary infertility.

I guess people assume since you have kids, you didn’t have trouble having kids, and your private business is their business. They really are just making small talk, which I am admittedly terrible at. I think because I always have such big things on my mind, and everything said brings up all these heavy things, but you can’t talk about them with strangers, nor do I wish to. So I end up all awkward and come off rude and snobbish. Sorry, all you strangers. I will work on it. I would not have planned to have my girls 10 years apart, but it was all part of God’s plan and it has worked out to be the best thing for our family. I polled everyone I know that has a big age gap in kids, and all agreed the good by far out weigh the bad.

B&HGThe good: My oldest was an only child for 10 years, so she was ready to have a sibling; way, way, more than ready. She had been praying for a sibling since she was 3. She also suffered the infant losses with us and that gave her an even deeper desire to be a big sister. She was at that age where she loved babies and loved to play with babies and baby dolls, so having her own tiny little baby to play with was an amazing gift. My youngest, now 4, thinks her big sister hung the moon! She wants to be just like her, and do everything the way her big sister does. She wants to hold her hand at the store instead of mine, she wants her sissy to fix her hair instead of me, and big sissy really can do no wrong. I also love the helping hands I always have with having an older child around. I can trust her to watch her sister so I can grab a shower, etc. It’s perfect! The oldest is also great at playing with the youngest, something I admit I struggle with. So when I just can’t sit in the floor and play Barbie or tea party again, I have a back up! As they grow into young women, I know they will always have each other, even when my husband and I are gone, and I am so grateful for that special bond.

The bad: try finding a movie or TV show they both want to watch. Impossible. The big gets to go with friends, do sleep overs, and lots of other things the little just isn’t old enough for yet. I find myself always telling the little “when you are older.” She even says now “Momma, can I do XYZ when I am a big girl like sissy?” It’s heart breaking. When sissy is gone to school all day, little sister misses her so much, constantly asking, “When will sissy be home?” The breaks are always fun, but then we have to readjust all over again when school is back in. Finding family activities has also been a struggle. Of course they both like the zoo, Disney, camping, and actually snow skiing now, but for the first few years it really was hard to find something we could all do. That gets easier each year as they get older, but we still find ourselves in the “divide and conquer” mode in many situations. The little always has to be taxi driver with me, too, because big sissy has some activity most days. Of course, the youngest probably learns older language and sassiness earlier than her cohorts. Sometimes you wonder if you are dealing with two three-nagers or teenagers, as the behaviors are quite similar!

B&HGPaintI also would have had another closer in age to my youngest if I could have. It was not my choice to be done, but God had other plans. While I dread the day my oldest goes to college, which is just 4 years away, I know then my youngest will get to experience being an only child. Like bookends, they each will have similar experiences as sisters. We will have an altogether different take on the empty nest. We will all mourn the change, but probably none as much as little sister. Until then, we will just make the most of our time together under the same roof and continue to bask in the glory of sisters 10 years apart.

Are your kids separated in age by a “great divide”? Tell us about it in the comments!

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10 Responses to The Great Divide: Parenting Kids 10 Years Apart

  1. Amber November 16, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

    This post is wonderful! Thanks!

    This is a big topic in our household right now. My stepdaughter is turning 9 soon and has been begging for a sibling for years. We wanted to wait till we got settled from our move and stuff we would try for kids. I have always been concerned about the age gap. She is such a big helper and would be an amazing big sister, but I am so afraid that the age difference is going to be a problem. I don’t want her to feel left out or upset because a lot of the attention will be with the baby. She’s been the only child, grandchild, and great grandchild for quite sometime. It will be a HUGE adjustment for her.

    Great post! 🙂

  2. Joleen November 20, 2015 at 8:15 pm #

    I have a sister 3 years older than me and a sister 11years older than me. I have always been closer to my oldest sister. So never let age gaps worry you. When my oldest sister went to college I remember getting to stay with her in her dorm a few nights. And then when she got her first apartment my parents let me go stay with her for long weekends over a 3day weekend. She was my hero, and my best friend-and still is. I always call her first when I had a bad day, or when I need advice with my own kids. Her kids are older and provide great babysitters when we need a girls night out too!

  3. Mary November 21, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    My children are 32, (30 in heaven), 29, 25 and 4 with twin in heaven. I’ve heard all of the comments about the age gaps. But we couldn’t imagine life any different.

  4. Amie November 21, 2015 at 10:20 am #

    I am currently pregnant with a girl and have a 7yro boy from a previous relationship. He still gets visits w/his father and every other holiday and I am already freaking out over the times they won’t get to be together. He is so excited to be a big brother as he has been waiting a long time as well and it breaks my heart that he’s already asking questions like if his sister can go with him when he visits his dad.

  5. Julie K November 22, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

    I have 3 girls ages 18.5, 7.5 & 2. People are often shocked when I tell them their ages and they always have the lovely questions of “wow you must love torturing yourself” or “was it hard having a child in high school(I was 22 when I had my first)”. I love that each of my girls get individual time with me and that my youngest has big sisters who love and truly take care of her. We did want siblings closer together but that wasn’t Gods plan and as it turns out it worked out pretty well

  6. Melanie November 23, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    I have a big age gap & don’t mind talking about it at all. I just assume people know that when you have a 10 year old sibling with newborn twins that secondary infertility & IVF is our reality, so we talk about it the same as the weather. As though it’s as obvious as the nose on your face. I would love a 6 year old somewhere in there too but losses, failed adoptions & failed treatments had other plans. My oldest was an only for a long time & wanted a sibling and now has a full house. The twins will always have each other when the oldest moves on to older teen / college. It’s not the way I wanted it, but it is definitely still great! We count our blessings daily.

  7. Annie November 23, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    There is a 17 year gap between my two girls and it is so much fun. I have spent some time coming up with clever answers to the questions. Some of my favorites… “Wow! I bet she was a surprise!.” Well yes, she was! We just don’t tell them which one was the surprise ? and “Do they have the same dad?” Yes they do gave the same dad. They were just fathered by different people. That one usually stumps people enough that they don’t ask any more questions.

  8. Angel November 23, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

    My brothers are 12 and 13 years older than me. I always say that I got the best of both worlds, I got to be an only child with siblings. I got to skip the sibling rivalries and comparisons in school and was able to be adored and still grow up to have a couple of amazing friends. I’m so grateful for how my family is constructed. Your daughters are lucky girls!

  9. Dawn January 2, 2016 at 5:40 pm #

    Oh the great divide; we know it well. Any entertainment that is actually entertaining (and not and “endure it” fest) is impossible. Except Elf. Thank you God for Elf. And I’m so with you on the sassiness. The words they learn, the music they listen to, the EYE ROLLS. All I can say to the other moms is “so sorry – we have teenagers.” I wouldn’t change a thing though, and in fact i LOVE seeing my boys in a nurturing role they wouldn’t otherwise have had. And she adores them. Seeing them together melts me and makes all the inconvenient fade away.

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