My younger brother and I have a nearly 8-year age gap, which means we didn’t quite relate to most sibling relationships we saw with our peers. We weren’t very close growing up, and sometimes it feels like we are too different to even be related. Having a huge age gap makes for a very unique sibling relationship, but one that I wouldn’t trade for anything else.
Here are 10 weird things that anyone with a big sibling age gap knows to be true:
1. You grow up with totally different parents
I grew up with new parents in their early 20s trying to figure out how this whole parenting thing works, and my brother had established parents who had him when they were in their 30s. It’s like we were raised by two completely different couples, who had very different parenting styles.
2. When you’re both adults, it’s super exciting
You grow up in completely different stages, so when the younger one finally reaches adulthood it’s like the door to friendship opens. You can finally hang out without feeling like one of you is the babysitter, and going out for drinks together becomes a momentous milestone.
3. You don’t have any mutual friends
One of the best things about having a huge age gap with your sibling is that you have totally different circles of friends. When one of you is still in elementary school while the other is graduating high school, you definitely don’t have to worry about friend jealousy.
4. You don’t get each other’s pop culture references
Even though we’re both technically millennials, I am an ’80s baby, and my brother was born in the mid-’90s. We had almost no overlap in pop culture. He knows not of the Beyoncé of Destiny’s Child, and I don’t really get the whole Spongebob Squarepants thing. It’s cool though — that’s just another thing we don’t have to share.
5. You’re always in different life stages
Maybe our lives will start evening out when we’re in our 70s, but until then, we will always be in totally different stages of life. He was in diapers while I was dealing with my first heartbreak. He was getting his driver’s license while I was pregnant with my second child. We’re always on different pages in life, which keeps the conversation interesting.
6. The older one ruins everything
OK, maybe not everything, but I did ruin a whole lot for my younger brother by putting my parents through the wringer. Our parents had plenty of time to come up with good plans to curb the bad behavior precedent I set. I got away with partying and sneaking out while he had to endure a 9:30 p.m. curfew until he was a senior in high school. The first one sets the expectation, and the younger one suffers.
7. You have different childhoods
My parents did a lot of the “special” childhood moments with me — like Disneyland and big birthday parties and holiday crafts — while my brother got the shaft. When you come up seven years behind your older sibling, your mom will likely be over breaking her back to make your childhood Pinterest-worthy and magical.
8. You both get to be the “only child”
I had nearly eight years of only child time before my brother entered the world, and he had a full eight years after I left the house to be an “only child” too. While it sometimes gets annoying being the center of your parents’ attention, it also rocks to have everything be about you when you’re a kid.
9. You have a built-in mentoring program
I always get to feel like the sage mentor, walking my young adult brother through new life experiences. I helped him get in with all my favorite college professors and set him up with an envy-worthy schedule. I knew how to help him deal with the teenage angst he felt towards our parents. I get to be his go-to person for life advice, which is a cool position to hold.
10. It takes a while to understand each other
When you’re constantly in totally different stages in life, it’s hard to relate to one another. We were never close growing up, but my brother said he finally understood “why I was so angry all the time” when he too became a teenager dealing with our parents. There are a lot of “aha” moments to be had when you have a large sibling age gap.
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