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Too many kids?

post #1 of 219
Thread Starter 
Dh's cousin has 5 kids (10 y.o., 8 y.o., 6 y.o., 3 y.o., 9 mos.) and I was talking to her dh tonight at the family christmas party and he asked me if we were done after this baby, since we are having a girl after 2 boys. I said I didn't know. He then basically told me not to have more kids b/c it is really really hard in a multitude of ways. He said that he and his wife never talk about it to others, but it is really hard. Not that he doesn't love all his kids, but if he knew then what he knows now, he would have stopped around 3. He said it is financially difficult, obviously, and that as they get older, they require even more time. He doesn't feel like the younger ones get enough attention, nor does his relationship with his wife.

Anyway, it was really interesting to hear this, b/c I have never had anyone be so honest and direct about this issue. Usually this guy doesn't talk, so it really made an impression on me. It really got me thinking - maybe he is right. I always assumed that this baby was not my last, but hearing his story may have changed my mind. I want a career, and I don't want dh to work himself to death. I have been wishing that this pregnancy would just hurry up, but maybe it is my last and I should savor every moment.

Thoughts on family size?
post #2 of 219
I'm one of six kids. I can't comment on my parents' relationship because I'm not my parents--certainly it seems like a good relationship from the outside. But the younger kids get plenty of attention, and are probably closer to my parents in a lot of ways than us older kids were at their age. I'm sure that's partly due to homeschooling--the younger two have been homeschooled their entire 'school' lives.

Financially difficult--yes, it was, but mainly because my parents were living on a single pastor's salary. It would have been financially difficult even with one or no kids! But with the kind of lifestyle they chose to lead, which involved hand-me-downs, cooking from scratch, cloth nappies and so on, it's not like each individual child was a huge extra burden. You know? If you're cooking for 5, you may as well be cooking for 6. We were all perfectly happy wearing each other's clothes and getting 70c icy poles occasionally as a great treat. I don't know if that's the kind of lifestyle you're comfortable living, but it worked for us. If my parents had been desperate to get us all new roller blades, PlayStations and designer clothes, 6 kids would indeed have been a disaster!
post #3 of 219
Ste comes from a family of seven. I've spoken to both his parents about having such a large family and from what they've said, both would have done things differently. Example, not having so many children.

I think financially, it was crippling for them. Ste said that many a night when he was a child, he would come downstairs during the early hours of the morning to find his Dad with his head buried in his hand, piece of paper and pen in the other trying to work out the finances so everyone was fed & clothed.

Peace
post #4 of 219
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galatea View Post
Thoughts on family size?
It's such an individual decision; what's a wonderful family size for some might be disastrous for others. But good for your DH's cousin for being honest about his feelings; there's a lot of pressure to pretend that whatever choices you've made for your family have resulted in an absolutely perfect situation that you wouldn't ever dream of doing differently.

I think that a family's ideal size has a lot less to do with priorities - whether they like their children more, or whether they want to buy their kids a lot of expensive stuff - and more to do with what the parents can handle physically and emotionally. Some parents thrive with a bunch of children. Some are pushed to their limits with one or two. There's no shame in recognizing one's limits and staying within them in order to be the best parent possible to however many children are in the family.
post #5 of 219
It probably depends on all kinds of things -- finances, spacing, individual personalities, etc.

Dh was the youngest of 5 kids. As a result, he only wants the two kids we have (he is considering three for my sake, but if it was solely up to him he'd probably stop at two) kids. He felt like he was raised mainly by his older sister, and that his parents did not have enough time for each of them. He felt ignored much of the time.

However, his mother had 7 kids in 5 years. I'm sure she was doing the absolute best she could. If the spacing had been further apart, perhaps things would have been easier for everyone. Who knows..?

One of his colleagues has 5 children, and they're a very happy family. The kids are spaced further apart, and his colleague makes a fair amount of money. So they have money to pay for a mother's helper when they need it, they aren't stressing about needs, etc.

I think the number of kids becomes too many only if/when you cannot feed or clothe them adequately (like, no coat for the cold winter, or having to live off of peanut butter for days on end).
post #6 of 219
Both dh and I come from very large families. I think your dh's cousin has some very valid points.
post #7 of 219
I think it totally depends on the situation.
Coming from a family of ten, and being the second youngest, I can attest that I did not get alot of parental attention. My dad was at work all the time. My mom was 42 when I was born, with 8 children already. Then she became pregnant with her last when I was only a year old. Although I know she loved me, and was not abusive, she was harried, impatient and tired the majority of the time. My oldest sisters were teenagers when I was born, so thankfully I got a ton of attention, both physical and emotional from them.
My life was much different than all of my friends. I remember resenting the fact that I wore my older brother's hand me down clothes (my sisters were all much older.) I resented that my mother never had time or energy to spend with me.

I'm not saying this to be totally negative, there was lots of fun and love growing up, I just didn't necessarily get as much as I wanted of it from my parents. We did not have alot of material possessions, hardly ever went out as a family because of $, but we were and still are a loving family.
post #8 of 219
Again I think this all depends on personalities of the parents, finances, and lifestyle choices. We live frugally, cook from scratch as much as possible, I breastfeed and cloth diaper my kids. 90% of Henri's clothes are Paddy's old clothes. And we're fine with that, because Paddy is only a year older than him and the clothes are like new, only now are they showing some signs of wear. Why waste money on all new stuff? But see, others might disagree and say each child should have all new everything. We are expecting our 3rd child in June. We are very excited and we know that this is something that we can handle ( emotionally, financially, etc...) We have discussed this issue many many times, and I think that having 4 children would be the perfect family size for me-not too small, not too big, in my opinion of course. But we could have this 3rd baby and decide that's enough, or have a 4th baby in the future and decide there's room for more. I don't think it is a decision that can be made ahead of time, you know? You just don't know what your life circumstances are going to be, and I wouldn't want to limit myself because I didn't trust the future.
post #9 of 219
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galatea View Post
He then basically told me not to have more kids b/c it is really really hard in a multitude of ways.
I think it's cool for people to open up and share their feelings, as to what they're learning and how their lives are going at any given time.

But it's not so cool for them to say that what's best for them is best for everyone.

Also, I don't know, kids have a way of hearing stuff, even stuff not intended for their ears. This dad basically said he regrets choosing to have #4 and #5; I know he doesn't normally talk about it and I'm sure the kids weren't in ear-shot when he said it...

Still, what if one of those kids somehow finds out that they're "regretted?"

I personally believe that no human being is a mistake. We may go through difficult spots while raising our children, regardless of how many we have. But that doesn't mean our world would be a better place if one or more of them hadn't been born.

And even in the jump from 1 to 2, there are some times when I feel inadequate and totally stretched -- but I can't imagine looking at my 2nd and saying, "If I had it to do over, I would've stopped with just 1."

I think the hard times we go through, are one of the ways we stretch and grow and learn right along with our children. If God's given you (general you) 5, or 7, or 3, or 6, and you sometimes feel inadequate to raise them, I'd challenge you to see that inadequate feeling as a message that you need to be open to being transformed, not as a message that one or more of those children was a mistake.
post #10 of 219
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
Still, what if one of those kids somehow finds out that they're "regretted?"

I personally believe that no human being is a mistake. We may go through difficult spots while raising our children, regardless of how many we have. But that doesn't mean our world would be a better place if one or more of them hadn't been born.

And even in the jump from 1 to 2, there are some times when I feel inadequate and totally stretched -- but I can't imagine looking at my 2nd and saying, "If I had it to do over, I would've stopped with just 1."

I think the hard times we go through, are one of the ways we stretch and grow and learn right along with our children. If God's given you (general you) 5, or 7, or 3, or 6, and you sometimes feel inadequate to raise them, I'd challenge you to see that inadequate feeling as a message that you need to be open to being transformed, not as a message that one or more of those children was a mistake.
My husband's the first of four, and he was the reason his parents got married (they no longer are) and I do think there is some truth to what you said about being regretted. I think parents need to tread very lightly. But there have been advantages to that "family secret" being out in the open too, and he has always been very loved, so.

Of the 4 kids in his family though, 3 believe that they were mistakes in some way and none of them seems to feel that they got quite "enough" growing up. I'm not sure if they'd feel that way if there'd been 2 of them, so. I just think it shows it's very individual.

Moving on to the broader topic I personally believe that even if God manages everyone's family size personally (which I find hard to believe given the millions of very good people who conceive children in conditions in which they starve, worldwide), he may well do this by giving individuals insight into their personal limits, if we are open to hearing it.

So to the OP I think you got really good information and it's really good to apply it as you go along.

My husband and I originally hoped for a larger family, and then after going through years of infertility, we both kind of came to understand that while that was a perfectly viable dream for us (and we may still end up expanding our family one way or another) we also had other dreams that we ended up pursuing in the added time.

Now we're balancing that out with one child and hoping to add at least one more, but that has been its own gift and I think we learned quite a lot about ourselves and what we have to share with the world without getting focused on parenting as the only path.

So I guess what I'm saying is that a child is of course a gift; sometimes time and space is a gift too. Again, it's really individual.
post #11 of 219
Three kids is our goal and our limit.

I wanted the biggest family that I could and still have time, energy, and financial resources for each of us. It's not the "right" number of kids, just the number that feels right to us. There are times I feel stretched to the limit and I have to remember to rest and recharge myself.

I think it's nice that you were able to have a really open and honest discussion about how he is currently feeling. Remember that his feelings could change and evolve with him as the children grow. The same person could look back and say there were some struggles but I'm so glad we have this size family...if I hadn't I would have regretted it.

So take his and other peoples ideas and consider it because I do think it's valuable feedback but there are people who have totally positive big family experiences too...so ultimately do what you feel most called to do for your family.
post #12 of 219
I think it is great that he was so open and honest with you and certainly take what he said into account but don't let it determine how many children you will have. I currently have 4 children. Ihave reached my limit as a single parent. 4 I can comfortably raise, any more than that and we are in big trouble. Other than the first 2 there is also a fair amount of spaceing(4 years between #2&#3 and btw #3&#4). Now if I was to have a spouse I would certainly have more children. I have alsways seen myself with 6-8 children. Then again I have worked in daycare since I was 11, being surrounded by a group of no less than 6 children at a time seems normal to me.
post #13 of 219
My DH is one of 8 and has always felt that his childhood was wanting. Attention, support and some times material things were in short supply, especially after the birth of the next youngest sibling who was special needs. With that many kids life was often chaotic and that was hard for someone with his personality to deal with.
post #14 of 219
As a single mom of 5, i wish i would've stopped awhile ago. I totally adore them all but trying to give them the attention and love they all need is really hard and i find myself pulling my hair out alot. Raising them on one income is nearly impossible. It is tough for me and i pray i keep it together until the last one is out of the house ( my kids are 10,7,5,2,1) My ten year old is special needs which makes it that much harder for me. I don't have family or friends around either or even the other parent to help so i feel really,really overwhelmed constantly.
post #15 of 219
ITA that it totally depends on the particular family. I think that it was especially common 20-40 years to have more children than you could really care for. Factor in the general idea that children's needs were less valid or real than those of the adults, the fact that mothers had virtually no help from the fathers (beyond conception, lol), there was very little planning in the spacing of babes, and far less breastfeeding, and you make for a very stressful family life.

As for this particular father, he could be going through a very rough time at the moment -- if his oldest is 10, and his youngest is 9mos, I can totally see how challenged he would feel. But his experience is not your experience, and I agree with pps who recommend that you evaluate your own life and resources, both internal and external, when deciding how many kiddos to have. 4 is our limit, but I have one friend who wants (and could totally handle) 6, and another who is pushed to the brink with 1.

Your experience of how many is too many changes over time. I once read that when determining how many kiddos you want, you should consider how many you think you can sanely raise now, and how many you would want to surround you when you're old. The example given was something like: maybe you feel that you can raise 2 now, but would like 10 when you're old and gray -- so perhaps, you should consider having 3-4. Obviously, this heuristic is limited in it's value, but I think that it points out that our perception changes dramatically over time.
post #16 of 219
DH comes from a family of 5 children. He actually has 5 siblings, but the oldest was adopted by a family member at birth so he doesn't really count her, KWIM? Anyway, he wants a big family. I have a brother and that's it--I never wanted any children. We have 3 living children and 1 that died at 3 months. DH wants 1 more but I think I'm finished.

I don't like being left alone with the kids we have now because they tend to stress me out. That's why I'm the primary wage earner and DH stays home with them more often than I do. I'm afraid of paying for college, paying for school activities, even paying for basic necessities. Kids are expensive and they get more costly as they age. How well do you handle the kids you have now?
post #17 of 219
I am glad you brought this up. I have noticed there are many parents here with 4 or more children, big families. And I thought it was unusual but maybe not really. I think it's interesting.

DH and I have two boys and are considering whether we are done. I am soon approaching 40 and feel like I'm getting toward the end of childbearing years. The two boys are great, it's exhausting, and it works well. That said, I'm not sure I want to close the door to another child.

But 3 would be our absolute max. Just managing two is a lot of work and effort and DH and I are tired. If we had a third I would want a little space just to catch a break. I don't have baby lust, but I love the 1 year old+ age so much.

I'm sure we could manage to feed and clothe more children, but it's the extras that would get crunched - education maybe, activities, vacations... we'd probably do those things still, but the options would be different.

It's likely we will stop at two. I once talked to someone retiring who said if he would do anything in life differently, he would have had more children. That made an impression on me (but I wondered and did not get to hear if his spouse agreed! I imagine she did a lot more of the childrearing than him.)

If we only have two we will be able to give them more and have fewer worries about providing anything they need. But, the downside is that we worry that it may be lonely. I don't know how it could be that lonely we still have two great kids, but that's our fear.

ETA: I have also had a couple professionals - an eye doctor in particular -- strongly suggest stopping at 2 (he had 3). He said particularly for travel the world is built for even numbers and that it's more difficult beyond that.

We just look at my DH's brother who has 3 and they look pretty tired. The kids are cute though!!
post #18 of 219
My dh is one of 5 and it was certainly too much for his parents. Based on what I have heard, his childhood makes me very sad.

We have three and though I sometimes want another, I also feel stretched sometimes and really fear creating the kind of situation he grew up in.

Anyway, don't know how many are too many, but 3 is enough for us. Not too many, but enough
post #19 of 219
I don't think big families are for everyone. It's just not a one size fits all thing, ya know? I know plenty of big families and they are happy and so are the kids. A good friend of mine has 7 kids and her kids are the most well adjusted people I know. Seriously. I have seen her in action and she gives all of her kids what they need.

Bottom line, just because this person is having a hard time with his family size doesn't mean that's the case for everyone. They might have had a hard time with one child because of who they are.

Good luck!
post #20 of 219
As others have said, it's an individual issue for each family. I have to say that when I see other women with 4 or more kids and they look like they have it all together, I often wonder if that mother has completely lost her SELF... that part of you who makes you you. Sometimes they seem like they never get to take off the "mother" hat, if that makes sense. When you are forced to be mother 24/7 just because of the sheer size of your family, I can't imagine that it's healthy, even if it appears that she has it all together. I'm sure some women thrive in those situations, though. They appear to love having a very large family, and indeed, do, as it is their fulfillment.

I am the youngest of 4. It was made well-known to me my entire childhood that I was a HUGE accident, that my parents really regretted having me. It wasn't until I became an adult (really into my 30's) that they seemed to be able to relate to me... perhaps because they could see me as a peer almost. Amazingly, I now have a good relationship with them, and my mom even lives with us.

My parents should have stopped at one. Better yet, none. My impression of my mother is that one was too much. Wearing the "mother" hat often seemed very uncomfortable for her. I chose to have 1 in part because of my own experiences growing up in a largish family. I'm sure other women have similar influences. Perhaps my dd will have a large family because of growing up an only.
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