What it’s like to have siblings who are so far apart in age

Maybe you have siblings close to the same age, and can’t imagine living your childhood without them. Or maybe you’re an only child, and aren’t sure how you’ll be able to share your parents’ attention.

Parents often worry about the “appropriate” age difference between siblings. There are financial worries, like the cost of having two children in daycare, or the cost of diapers. And logistical ones, like how to handle drop-offs and pick-ups at more than one school, or how many car seats are available in the back row.

Each potential age gap has its own benefits and challenges. As is often the case in parenting, we may not have as much control as we’d like: Sometimes babies come into our lives sooner (or later) than planned, and siblings dictate their own dynamics — something that may happen. or may not align with parental preferences.

We asked Talk News readers on Facebook to share their experiences with siblings who are close (or close) in age. Their stories highlight how many ways siblings can be happy or unhappy with each other — and sometimes both throughout life.

Siblings who are far apart in age can still form close relationships that last a lifetime.

Adriana Lopetrone via Getty Images

Siblings who are far apart in age can still form close relationships that last a lifetime.

“My (and only) sister is 20 years younger than me and two years older than my son. They are in the same high school currently. I consider the two of us just children who happen to have siblings, but we are very close even though we have never lived together.” —Melissa Stratton

“Both my parents already had children when they married. I am 40 years old and the youngest of seven children. My father was 52 years old when I was born and my mother was 30 years old. My oldest sister is one year older than my mother. I have nieces and nephews who are older than me, and more great-grandchildren than I can count.” —Chelsea Reisner

“We are four girls, with a 7 year difference from top to bottom and a year difference in the middle: ‘Big Girl’ and ‘Little Girl.’ We are currently 72, 71, 67 and 65 years old. We are close and closer because my parents, 92 and 95, refuse. Throughout our lives, we have paired up in different combinations depending on where we are in life. We have sister text messages that keep us close and up to date.” —Kathy Cafasso

“My closest sibling is eight years older than me. The oldest brother is 26 years older. I learned a lot about life skills and being mature for my age. But I miss having friends to play with.” —Monty Barb

“My sister is 14 years older than me. I was born at the end of his eighth grade year. He could have chosen to ignore me (who wants to hang out with a baby when you’re still in high school?) but instead worked hard to build a relationship between us. He said he waited 14 long years to get a sister and I deserved it. We are best friends to this day. We help each other raise our children and talk on the phone about 15 times a day.” —Carrie Ann Bronkowski, Chicago

“I am the youngest of six children, three girls and three boys. My oldest brother is 23 years older than me, and the one I’m closest to is 13 years older. They have another life without me. When they grew up, they moved all over the country since my father served in the Navy. I was born and raised in Wisconsin. I grew up with my nieces and nephews, and one of them is only 3.5 months younger than me. Now that I am an adult and have children of my own, I have ‘adult’ relationships with each of them. But I will always be the ‘little sister’.” —Hjordi Van Ausdal

“My older brother was born in 1940. I was born in 1946. My younger brother was born in 1950. My mother said, we are very different from each other. He attributes it to our growing up in a very different era. I think he has the right opinion.” —Karen Warren

“My sisters are ten and 15 years older. My life is full of conflicting narratives: I am an only child with siblings. I also feel like I had many mothers when I was little. There was no shortage of hugs when I was young!” —Andrea Wood Groth, Colorado

“I am the oldest of six children. I have four sisters and one brother. My parents divorced and then remarried and each had two more children with their second partners. The sister I am closest to is one year and eight months away from me. My other siblings are 13, 15, 17, and 21 years younger than me… Saying that I don’t feel a connection with my siblings seems wrong to me, but it’s irrelevant. My sister who is closest to me lives in the same conditions as me, as do my older brother (27) and my younger sister (25). Often I see them when my mother has gatherings, I guess like most families. But there were no texts or calls between me and my siblings.” —Erika T.

“I am 66 years old. My sister is 65 years old. My younger brother is 64 years old. We have another brother who is 57 years old. Almost every year two or more of us went to the same school. My sister and I have different friends. My brother and I have mutual friends and he worked with me in high school, and with my husband before we were married. We were at each other’s weddings and were godparents to each other’s children.” —Jeanne Perry, Massachusetts/Florida

“I was almost 18 when my youngest brother was born, and he looked like me, so people in my hometown thought he was mine. I also have an older sister (2 years older) and a younger sister (7 years younger than me).” —Mariana Ramirez, California

“My sister was born on January 13th. I was born on November 25 of the same year! We were in the same class at school, people thought we were twins!” —Karen Ording

“I have two younger brothers who could be my children. They are 4 and 7 years old. My son is 12 years old and I am 42 years old. I am more like (a) second mother to my siblings.” —Bianca Moore, New York

“My eldest brother is nine years older than me. He went to college when he was 17 and I was 8. Although he returned to visit over the years, he has been gone since then. He was always quiet and didn’t talk much, so it was difficult to maintain close relationships. I’m usually quite chatty but it’s difficult when the conversation is one way. Usually done via email or rare visits. Now it’s just the two of us. Our parents died many years ago, as did both of our siblings.” —Mary Chase Bartley, Massachusetts

“My two oldest sisters were 21 and 19 when I was born, but I also have siblings who are only a few years older than me. That’s great. I became an aunt at the age of three, so it was like having more playmates my age. My oldest sister helped convince Mom to let me do things and often took me out of the house as I was growing up. He was raised very differently since our mother was a teenager when she gave birth to him, but was in her 30s when she gave birth to me.” —China Shaken

“I have a sister who is 34 years younger than me. He has been a perfect addition to our family.” —Sara Elizabeth Eads

“My little brother is 10 and I will be 28 in a few weeks! When he was little and I still lived at home, I was basically like a second mother to him. We are still very close as we get older. He’s my friend.” —Maggie Louise

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