On hundred years ago families looked a lot different than they do today. There was usually a mom and a dad, and typically several children. Having 5 kids was on the smaller size. In today’s western society, however, the typical family generally consists of 4: two parents and two children. Sometimes you see more, sometimes you see less, but this “size 4” family size seems to be the most widely accepted by the rest of the public.
The question I have, is why? Why does everyone seem to think small families are the only acceptable form of families, and that large families are somehow detrimental to all individuals involved, leaving everyone destined to live a life of doom and regret?
In the following post I would like to look at the joys of large families, and the reality of what it actually looks like. I in no way am trying to say that large families are better than small families, since God chooses each family one member at a time, but I would like to try and diminish some of the myths that go along with big families. I have interviewed 2 young ladies who grew up in a family of 10, a mother who raised 7 children, and myself, currently raising 5 children with the anticipation of more.
“When we went on family vacations we would do stuff like go camping, we would never go on big trips out of the country or anything. But truthfully I have a lot of great memories from those trips so I don’t remember ever feeling like I was missing out.”
“We've had to make choices about what's important to us, and what we felt like we could afford to spend our time/money on, so maybe they've been less involved in team sports or music lessons than the typical North American kids, because those activities weren't a priority to us. But, then again, I'd say that the kids who are constantly scheduled and chauffeured from activity to activity are missing out on just being home and playing with other kids.
“My parents spent time with us by helping with our homework each night, always made sure that we had a good day, and sometimes mom or dad would take us out one at a time on bike rides for quality time. Mom and Dad also loved taking us on camping trips in the summer time; it was an awesome family bonding time.”
"There's never a dull moment! Sometimes "family rate" means a great deal for us! It's never lonely or boring. Our kids learn great social skills, from getting to know (and get along with) all of their siblings, with all of their different personalities."
Of everyone I interviewed, they all said they would either have a large family all over again, or themselves grow up and have a large family as well. Clearly the benefits far outweigh the negatives, and as you can see a large family, while challenging, is still a family more than capable of all the same love and attention smaller families have too. I would like to leave you with some positive attributes to large families that I complied from several other blogs. Enjoy!
Happy situations are more festive, more people to comfort you in times of need
Children become better equipped to handle social situations after experiencing many different personalities from siblings
There’s never a shortage of something funny to tell someone. Many people go through their day without a single funny thing that happens to them. I have at least a 25 percent chance of funny just by getting out of bed every day.
There is always someone to help me out. Even when the hubs is at work at night, I have at least one extra pair of arms to help clean up, chase, or even hold someone down when necessary.
Leftovers in my house are almost nonexistent.
In the middle of winter, little people climb into bed with me keep me warm.
My house never feels empty.
I always have an excuse to watch cartoons.
Even their normal squabbles and spats, when refereed by parents, teach them lessons of fairness, sharing, splitting differences, letting others off the hook, forgiving and forgetting. This fortifies their moral standards, their lifelong conscience. (Friction, though irksome and tedious at times, has its uses; it rounds off rough edges, forms a smooth, resilient surface.)
Since their parents take care of their needs but cannot satisfy their whims (through lack of money and time), children learn the difference between wants and needs. They learn to wait for what they want, or to work and earn it themselves. Thus they are spared the corruptive influence of instant gratification. They internalize the virtues of patience and honorable ambition. They grow to become self-reliant self-starters.
Through interactions with their siblings, children more deeply understand gender differences. From their sisters, boys understand and appreciate femininity; from their brothers, girls understand and appreciate what's common among males. All the children are thus better prepared for marriage.
One of the mysteries of a large family is the startling differences siblings display in temperaments and talents and interests. By dealing with these differences among their siblings, children learn to get along with anyone. Having to share a bedroom and bathroom and space at the table prepares the children superbly for marriage and for life.
Older children play with the youngest ones, and thus form a bond of affection with them. Younger children receive love and learning from several older people, not just their parents. So older children are pulled out of their egos, and younger ones are surrounded by love.
Each child journeys through life enjoying the support of his grown-up brothers and sisters. No matter what befalls them in life, your children will never be alone. Indeed, the finest gift parents can give their children, the gift lasting a lifetime, is their brothers and sisters.