Close Encounters

Is it wrong to buck the trend and have kids back to back? And if you do it anyway, can you cope?

If you've ever done any family planning, you know the conventional wisdom: children born less than two or three years apart are developmentally doomed to a lifetime of rivalry, with their weary parents as eternal referees. But what if you learned there are proven strategies for helping closely spaced siblings get along? Perhaps you would be tempted to buck the trend that's led to an average four-year gap between American siblings, up from 3 1/2 years a generation ago. Though it may be heresy for parents who do everything by the book, perhaps you would choose the sweet, messy bounty of...

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