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The Downside Of Having A Large Family

Posted by Serena Soutar on 26 April 2016


"Some people actually want to have more than two children! (Crazy, am I right?)"

Before we delve in, let me give you some background information: Hi, I'm Serena. I have two wonderful, loving parents and nine younger siblings. Yes, you read that correctly. NINE. Feel free to double check by rereading that sentence. No hard feelings, it happens all the time.

I receive a variety of reactions from people when I tell them how many siblings I have. Most of the reactions are shock, horror, disdain and the always wonderful “Bless your mother's heart." With the last response, at least you can tell that the person is trying to hide their distaste for our family dynamic.

Now, I am using the phrase "large family" loosely here. And by loose, I mean it has taken on the denotation of a parent or parents and three or more children. You're probably wondering why I would start with just three kids. Three isn't all that much, right? That's what I thought, but apparently we're both wrong.

Negative preconceptions

In today's society, at least in the US, "larger" families are viewed negatively. Having more than two children is a preposterous idea to most. I mean thirds are always accidents, aren't they? I hate to burst everyone's bubbles, but some people actually want to have more than two children! (Crazy, am I right?)

I am going to answer some of the basic questions that we are asked almost every day. Yes, all ten of us grew inside one woman. I am quite literally the red-headed stepchild so no, we do not all have the same biological father, but we all have the same dad. My step-father assumed that role when I was two years old. And no, we are not Mormon. Personally, I don't even know enough about the Mormon faith to understand why this is a question.

In order to collect and answer some of the obnoxious questions that large families are asked regularly, I had my mother post to her blog and 3 different Facebook parenting groups to ask women and men about comments and questions they and their children receive about their large family size. I have chosen some of the most common questions to answer below.

1) "How many of your kids were accidents?"

Let's get one thing straight: unplanned pregnancies are not "accidents". A fender bender is an accident, creating a human life is not. Every family that I know loves and cherishes their children both planned and unplanned. Each of those so called "accidents," myself included, have a life and a destiny to fulfill.

2) "Don't your parents know how that happens?"

Yes, yes they do and they enjoy it very much. Why shouldn't they? They are both mature, stable adults who love each other and are committed to each other. Nothing that they are doing is unhealthy or wrong.

3) "I bet you have to do a lot of helping out. You're practically a third parent, right?"

WRONG. I may be the oldest, but I am not obligated to do anything. My parents have never required me to help with any of my siblings. I help because I want to. These are my brothers and sisters whom I love and want to help navigate life.

4) "Which one is your/your parents' favorite?"

The second one really gets my blood boiling. Is our society really so dense as to believe that parents cannot love their children equally? It is true that parents have a unique bond with each of their children and siblings have differing bonds among themselves, but one child does not take precedent over another.

5) "Are they (your parents) done yet?"

It is wildly inappropriate to ask a child if their parents are “finished having kids." If you want to know what a family's future plans are, ask the parent. It is sort of ridiculous to ask the child assuming they will react more positively to the question. It is also offensive to the child. The children have no control over how many children our parents choose to have. In fact, our parents don't have control either. Ultimately, I believe that God decides how many blessings you receive and in what form those blessings come.

The downside of having a larger family is not the lack of privacy, the always busy schedule or having to share almost everything. The downside of a larger family is the negative experiences we have with strangers who believe that we are "too big." Families should not be judged by the amount of children they have. Couples with few or no children should not be judged either. Families of all sizes should be viewed positively. My large family is just one of many types of families; no one family is better than the another. We love each other and are grateful to have one another.

So please, next time you see a family that you deem to be too large, think before you speak.

This first appeared on Serena's blog and is republished with permission.

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Comments
  • Charlotte said:

    27/04/2016 17:32

    As the mother of nine, I really appreciate this article. You hit the nail on the head.....with ALL of your comments. And, instead of being "imposed" upon with helping at times with the other kids, rather you have the truly great opportunity on a daily basis of learning how to help others, not always demand your own way, and in general just how to be a more caring, helpful person in our society.

  • Mary Farmer said:

    27/04/2016 20:16

    Absolutely fantastic. God bless them all.

  • Serena said:

    28/04/2016 03:21

    Thank you both very much :)

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