06/12/2013 04:37 pm ET Updated Aug 12, 2013

What Are the Best Ages of Childhood?

I've not yet been the father of girls ages 8 and 11, or daughters 14 and 17. And I cannot pretend to know how stressful and/or fulfilling having college-aged kids will be. I can only know what I have known, and what I know allows me to declare 6 and 9 the greatest ages of childhood.


Their spread in ages is a touch over three years and in my not-at-all extensive research, this is the sweet spot for siblings to be close enough to each other in age so as to still enjoy playing together for hours on end, but independent enough in their likes and in their circle of friends to also happily spend time apart. That is point number one.

The second is no less important. With the youngest being of kindergarten age, they are, at 6 and 9, both independent around the home -- pouring bowls of cereal, wiping their own butts, capable of reading themselves to bed -- yet still dependent too, providing my wife and I with the thrill of still being needed in that young child/new parent way. But not all the time. This is bittersweet, because we know that this particular manner of dependency won't last too much longer, but it's present now and it's as beautiful as ever.

At 6 and 9 they still love and look up to us but at the same time are forming their own identities and exploring boundaries. Their personalized paths are becoming more and more visible beneath their rainbow sequenced flats, mismatches socks, and bizarro hair accessories. They like boys, but not in that way. They are sweet, but also absurd. And it's scary, all this, because it does fade and with that closing of one chapter comes new experiences to be enthusiastic about and to fear, but I cannot know those things yet. I know now, and I am head-over-heels in love with now.

They are amazing, my 6 and 9-year-old girls, and I adore them at this exact moment in time more than I ever have, but hopefully not more than I ever will.

This post original appeared on Out With The Kids.

What ages do you believe are the best of childhood?