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My son is born on October 1st three years ago. My wife is pregnant again and the calculated delivery date is October 22nd. We might end in a situation where the delivery is earlier, for reasons irrelevant to this question.

  • What are practical arguments for, and against, choosing the same birthday for the second child?

  • What considerations apply when the second child's birthday is only a very few days after the elder sibling's?

I know from friends that having the same birthday makes events easier to plan, from the parents' perspective. It would also remove the unhappiness of a small child saying "why does he get presents today and I don't." Being a twin, and married to one, I know that there's nothing problematic in sharing a birthday as long as both get their fair share of attention.

Update:
Both children are boys, 3 years apart. I believe that around their birthdays is the only time in the whole year that the actual date matters. It really does boil down to practical considerations around patience (gifts) and planning. I think that if there is, say, a week or more between the birthdays then it's easy to separate but if the difference is only a very few days then it gets complicated, and that's the situation I'd like to avoid.

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If your biggest concern this late in the pregnancy is how close the actual birthday is to your other child's, you're a pretty lucky guy. :-) –  afrazier Aug 27 '12 at 18:25
    
@afrazier: haha, good point :-) I'm not saying it's my only concern but I thought it'd make an interesting question. And there've been several good insights. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Aug 27 '12 at 19:56
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9 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

It depends on how you want your kids to feel about birthdays in the long run. My dad's birthday is November 23, my brother is Dec. 2, sister Dec 18, Parents anniversary Dec 19, Christmas Dec 25, mine Dec 28. My parents made sure that each event was totally separate so that we wouldn't be turned off to the whole experience.

I remember a few times where younger siblings would whine about not getting presents too, but I have also seen the same thing with other families where the birthdays are far apart or not even in the same family. That aspect of the planning would actually be better for closer birthdays, just tell them that their birthday is in a few weeks. No matter how close or far apart the days are, the other child will feel left out for the first few years until they realize they only need to wait a short time for THEIR presents. In the long run it is better to keep them separate for a few reasons. Learning to wait for their birthday helps them deal with life and keeping them separate lets them know that they are special and that they can have that day to themselves without having to compromise about going where with the other sibling.

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Great arguments! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Aug 27 '12 at 7:59
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I'd recommend against having the same day. In the case of twins, it wasn't anyone's choice that the children have the same birthday. In this situation, the elder child may feel as if you gave their birthday to their younger sibling which may breed resentment. I doubt this would happen, but it seems like a substantial risk when the only reward is ease of party planning.

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It's ok for the first few years, assuming the children are close in age. In fact, I'd encourage it. A 2-3 year old will usually feel left out for not receiving gifts at a party, even if he just had his party the previous week. Explaining that is instructive, but combining the b-days actually resolves this problem very well: it involves everybody (the 2 kids with birthdays), and avoids leaving anyone out.

After that the preschool years, though, it all depends on how close in age, interests, and friends the children are. If they hang out in the same social circle, are both boys, and both like sports, then by all means combine them. But say you have a 8 year old boy and a 6 year old girl - that might not work so well.

I'd ask them if they'd like to combine as soon as they were old enough to understand (say 5 or 6).

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My son (9) and daughter's (5) birthday are less than two weeks apart. Never really been an issue

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I can't see any problem with this at any age, so I'm not sure what the percieved problem is.

The whole way through life they will have friends with birthdays on or near theirs. It really doesn't matter, just treat each one equally and fairly.

Don't worry about this sort of thing.

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I'm exactly 9 years younger than my brother, so we shared a birthday but had little in common because of the large age difference. And you're right, it really wasn't a big deal. Of course, we didn't make a huge deal out of birthdays either, shared a cake and had presents, and grew up to think it was cool. –  thursdaysgeek Aug 27 '12 at 18:35
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My two sons are two years and a day apart. There's plenty of resentment by the older one since his day is immediately followed (and, in his mind, overshadowed by) his brother's. And this on top of the usual "you stole my limelight" feelings of an older sibling. :7)

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If the birthdays are within the same month, other considerations might guide you towards a single combined party. The biggest thing will be coordinating schedules of other family and friends involved for their attendance. It's easier to get people to set aside one day in such a short time span than it is two. More distant family members simply may not be able to make travel arrangements for two parties inside a month.

If the birthdays are within the same week, you might end up with a single party on the weekend anyway. For my family, planning a weekday party borders between impractical and insane. However, we always make sure that our kids get at least a few small gifts from us on their actual birthday -- as do some other especially close family members. They also know that the bigger gifts will come at their party.

From my own childhood: Two of my cousins and I all had birthdays within a few weeks of each other. Every year we had a combined birthday party for all 3 of us somewhere in the middle of all the birthdays. It was just easier for all the families involved to coordinate and have a single, larger party than it was for us all to try to set up 3 separate parties that everyone had to plan for and attend.

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The main benefit is that you only have to then remember one date for your children's birthdates. (yes, that's maybe not a problem for everone, but it is for me. ;)

But even if they are close, as they grow up, you rarely have parties on their birthday anyways...it's usually a weekend where people can get together, so you can always put the parties together on the same day which is a huge benefit in our modern busy lives. And the kids may very well love having the party together (and if they don't, you can always separate them the next year)

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My sister and I had birthdays within two weeks of each other and it was never really an issue because my parents never made it one. Their rule was simply this. on the even years (like 1990 or 1988) we could choose to do a really special activity and go somewhere but we had to choose something together.

Choosing together allowed us to do really special things like the water park or a camping trip to a cool little island with a handful of friends. If we had a regular old backyard party we could choose to have them separate, but anything that meant going somewhere meant having it together (less expense when there was only one of them to do) My sister and I took full advantage of this.

As we got older, mom and dad even gave us the budget and allowed us to plan our own parties and whether it was an odd or even year, if we could figure out how to do something together, work together and not have arguments that needed to involve them, and get it done we had full control. It was great. The fact that we could also choose separate birthdays helped too because then we had the choice (which meant we never resented having shared parties).

The only time it became a problem was when I was old enough to want a little more grown-up party during adolescence and she was still young enough to want cartoon character things and themes (I, like your sons, was three years older). That particular year especially, but others as well, may have led to the kind of resentments William Grobman mentions in his answer. Instead, it became one of the most memorable because Mom and Dad introduced the idea of the camping trip which gave me, my "sleep-over" and her the pirate theme she wanted because we hunted for buried treasure as part of the party activities and we were on an island. It was still our choice to do that together or have separate, simpler parties and it worked out well. I think if the choice had just been made for us, mom and dad may not have been so creative and I may have wound up waiting for the sleep-over part a year or two, too long harboring resentment.

The key thing I would remember as they get older, is that convenience for you, may mean sacrifices they are unhappy with when they are older. Your children are two different kids that will likely grow to want two different things. One may like huge groups of people and want big noisy celebrations while the other will prefer movie night with a couple of closer friends. . . Whatever you decide to do, you will make things easier for yourself if you find a way to include them in the planning and decision making. If they are part of the planning then compromises are ones they made to make something they did want work and they won't resent them. I do think there are times when negotiation is not a good idea between parents and kids, but when it comes to their own birthday party, I think a little negotiation is absolutely crucial.

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