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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
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Why not have your daughter pick the date? –  zzzzBov May 5 at 13:22
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@zzzzBov interesting idea, never thought of this. Let me read thru the answers now. –  kiruwka May 5 at 16:40
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My comment was meant to be a comment only and not an answer. It wasn't a complete thought, just something that might mitigate some of the future problems associated with a shared birthday. I read the question as though OP had one four year old and one on the way. With all else equal, if there are two or three dates that you can choose to induce labor, allowing the four year old to pick which one shows her that you trust her and value her as part of the family. With all the necessary focus on the new baby, it can be easy for a sibling to feel left out. –  zzzzBov May 5 at 17:00
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Be aware that even if she's induced, their birthdays could be different. –  BigHomie May 6 at 10:50

14 Answers 14

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

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

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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On the same day or within a week, odds are the birthday parties are going to be complicated in any event. How often will the nearest weekend be the same day? And then when you add in external activities it's even more likely they may have to be on/near each other (if it's in May, Soccer/etc. will often drive when you decide to hold the party).

I think you should not primarily concern yourself with the worrying about birthdays and parties, and concern yourself with the health of the mother and the baby. If you're scheduling inducing, schedule it for when the baby will be healthiest. If that's the same day, that's fine. Don't make the baby come out earlier or later than is appropriate just to try to put some space in between, or to make them identical.

I don't think you're going to significantly harm them if they have the same birthday; I think they'll find it amusing, sometimes, and they'll find it frustrating, sometimes, because kids find everything frustrating and amusing at various stages in their lives. If they're very close, they might appreciate it; if they're not, they might dislike it but honestly they'll probably mostly just not care. If they get their separate parties when they want to, and if they get separate cakes and ice creams and such, they'll be fine. (Also, the four year age gap helps there - the older one will be 7 or 8 by the time the younger one gets any real party with her own friends, so there are only a few years where it's a big deal.)

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My two boy's B-days are 3 days apart and my wife's & daughters's are 1 day apart. I recommend not using the same day. We make a big deal out of a B-day and the kids really enjoy having their own special day just for themselves. I think they wouldn't like to share this. Even one day apart works just fine.

As other people said: Concerns for mother & baby should be primary concern here.

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If you haven't experienced a shared birthday, it's hard to reason or explain about it. Certainly having birthdays just a few days apart has most of the same problems, yet without the "cachet" of the exact same day. I know two pairs of children in this boat: one pair is 4 years apart and one is 7 years apart (and those two were both adopted, which makes it even more surprising.) This can be something very special that they know makes them different, but especially when they're younger, they will think it is normal. It is so funny to hear a 5 year old confusedly ask somebody "how can it be your birthday if it isn't your brother's birthday too?"

Whether the same day or the same week, you will get sick of cake, you will have trouble coordinating the parties, and so on. But you can buy connected and shared presents (as many families do at Xmas) - Pirate Lego for you, Pirate Duplo for you - and you never have to deal with someone sulking because the other one is getting all the birthday fun. Both pairs of kids I know are proud of it and like to tell other people about it. If there's no health issue, I would say go for the same day and celebrate it.

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My brother and I share a birthday, 3 years apart (by coincidence, not by our parents' choice). With all due respect to those saying that neither child gets their "special day," I can attest that sharing a birthday with a sibling, particularly one close in age, does not make either birthday less valuable. Both kids will grow up accepting that their shared birthday is the natural order of things. Your four year old hardly has enough birthdays to remember what having her own is like—she'll adjust to the change quickly, and the newborn will never know the difference.

I always enjoyed our shared birthdays. There's twice the cake, twice the friends, twice the presents! Our parents always made sure we both had a party we could enjoy. They also made sure one birthday didn't overshadow the other, even on the day I was born (my brother still got his 3rd birthday party at McDonalds and, from what I hear, had such a good time that he didn't really care that he had a new brother ;P)

I'm sure it took a little adjustment for my parents to have a shared birthday, but speaking from the kids' perspective, I can say I've never wanted my birthday on any other date.

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great, thanks for the insight, interesting to know that. What about adult life ? Did it happen that your brother(or you) invited you at his B-day party and had to adjust, knowing that its your Birthday too ? –  kiruwka May 5 at 18:37
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+1 for the PoV of the kid in this situation! –  Brian S May 5 at 20:53
    
Though I don't care much about birthdays, as a twin, I agree. –  Ramchandra Apte May 6 at 11:50
    
@RamchandraApte: Fellow twin here :):) and I'd like to say that twins have a deep feeling of sameness that regular siblings don't have. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun May 6 at 15:23
    
@kiruwka When we were kids, we always had a shared party. We were pretty close—we often got mistaken for twins—so it was like sharing a birthday party with my best friend. Nowadays, we still celebrate together with our family on occasion, but we also celebrate separately among our own groups of friends. There's no sense that we need to celebrate together, though occasionally we do. As an aside, I don't think we've ever gotten each other a birthday present—there's a mutual understanding that the best gift we can give is freeing the other from that obligation. :D –  fishang May 7 at 19:59

First off congratulations for putting some thought into all the facets of the issue. I haven't read the other comments before offering this, so I am not sure of any other similar experiences.

My late father and I shared the same birthday and my two children were born a calendar day apart, two years apart (i.e. our daughter's birthday 'gift' was a day old brother).

There was a special circumstance, he was about 10 days overdue, and the small hospital we were going to to get induced only did them 1 day a week. Neither of us felt comfortable with the possibility of having a week longer and/or any possible complications.

The fact of the matter is that my ex and I tried very hard to not have the birthday close together. (I actually think we 'lost' on the initial attempt due to going on too many roller coaster rides).

While the fact of my late dad and I having the same day may have helped with bonding initially, I did eventually resent the fact. Also, the story that my mom often told of 'holding on' until after midnight to give my dad a nice birthday gift didn't help my angst.

Moving to the present, my kids rarely celebrate birthdays in the same week, and I don't acknowledge my birthday and have made that clear to my siblings and kids.

I am not making any suggestion, (YMMV) and hope that you and your wife are happy and have a healthy child: that is what matters the most. Enjoy, regardless of the day of birth.

All the best to you and yours!

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Thanks for personal example and compassion, appreciate it. –  kiruwka May 6 at 6:48

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