Talk to me about life in a large family... - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-29-2009, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by orangefoot View Post
I find it irksome that someone always has to come in with the over population arguments on any large family threads. We don't go to the 'only' threads and spread judgement there


I'm sorry you feel judged.

My original comment that sparked so much "outrage" (apparently) is mentioning peak oil. The OP is trying to decide how many children to have. I wanted to mention something else for her to think about......the very real possibility that feeding our children in the future may get significantly harder for all of us. The children who are already on planet Earth are very much blessings. I'm just not sure I would want any more mouths to feed, though.

And I don't judge my parents for having six kids, or my grandparents for having ten. But there were deprivation issues. The OP wanted personal experiences. That's what I gave her.

(And I'm not sure why you mentioned the "only" thread. The only thread doesn't relate to my experience, either. However, since I have five siblings, I'm qualified to post on this thread.)

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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Old 06-29-2009, 06:16 PM
 
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just a view from the outside, of knowing friends from large families... they seem closer to their siblings than their parents. and were more secure in their siblings than their friends. like their family was more of their life than for me. they all seemed happy, but 'in their own world' in a way.
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Old 06-29-2009, 08:10 PM
 
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just a view from the outside, of knowing friends from large families... they seem closer to their siblings than their parents. and were more secure in their siblings than their friends. like their family was more of their life than for me. they all seemed happy, but 'in their own world' in a way.
You seem to say that in a way that its a bad thing. There has been a lot of talk lately about there being no community anymore and moms not having help. IMO being a close large family would help w/that. More people that love and care and support your family. My small family I grew up in don't help each other out- I am trying to contact my sis (she is due any day now) to offer help, but she is dealing w/the weight issues (gain) and not returning anyones calls.

Why is it a bad thing that their family is more of their life? Isn't family most important in life?
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Old 06-29-2009, 09:31 PM
 
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You seem to say that in a way that its a bad thing. There has been a lot of talk lately about there being no community anymore and moms not having help. IMO being a close large family would help w/that. More people that love and care and support your family. My small family I grew up in don't help each other out- I am trying to contact my sis (she is due any day now) to offer help, but she is dealing w/the weight issues (gain) and not returning anyones calls.

Why is it a bad thing that their family is more of their life? Isn't family most important in life?
I didn't get any negativity from spottiew's post at all. I think she was simply saying that there is a different dynamic between siblings of many. I don't think the "community" thing happens within immediate families...it happens within "extended families" and people outside the family (like close neighbors and friends). If we viewed the family as part of an interconnected system, then moms and dads wouldn't feel so isolated. I would give anything to have "extended family" (cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles) and non-family members (people with in my community) who took an interest in the well-being and growth of my child.

"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." Charles Lamb.
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Old 06-29-2009, 10:28 PM
 
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My mom grew up in a family of 10 kids. I grew up in a family of 6 kids. My co-worker/friend grew up in a family of 12 kids. My dd has friends with 6 and 7 kids in the family, respectively.

This is what I know about large families: there is often a sense of deprivation in the children. Often the deprivation is monetary---not enough food to eat, not enough clothing, not enough space, etc. (One friend of dd's was extremely surprised when I offered her a second helping of a meal because I could tell she was still hungry. She had no concept of being able to ask for more than what was originally put on your plate.)

Sometimes the deprivation isn't about money, but time and energy. The parents are still just two people.

If you want a very honest, in-depth look at both the good and bad of a large family, read the book The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother.

Also, google "peak oil" and then decide if you still want a bunch of mouths to feed in the future.


PS. Personally, I think 5+ kids (not just 3) is a "large" family.
I have 3 siblings. We moved when I was 12 to a village where the norm was around 6 kids per family, but many families had 12 or more kids. My best friend was the 3rd oldest of 12, and yes, there was deprivation of time, energy and privacy. Not just deprivation of the parents time, the older girls spent most of their time taking care of the younger kids and doing housework.

My ex was the second youngest of 17. As a boy and one of the youngest, he got a better deal than my best friend was quite happy. In general, from my experience, the closer you were to the youngest in a large family, the happier the experience.
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Old 06-30-2009, 01:31 AM
 
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just a view from the outside, of knowing friends from large families... they seem closer to their siblings than their parents. and were more secure in their siblings than their friends. like their family was more of their life than for me. they all seemed happy, but 'in their own world' in a way.
I'd say that's true for my family; maybe exacerbated by the fact that we're all girls, non-mainstream and a bit Aspie. One of my sisters has a big, wide, close circle of friends, but the rest of us aren't as sociable. I think it's a good thing though - why not be friends with your family? After all, you share genes and have been exposed to similar media, ideals, philosophies etc; chances are high you'll agree on some things. We recently had some billets stay for a week - one at my house and two at Mum's - and they couldn't stop commenting on how close we all seemed, how great my little sisters were with my daughter and so on. It was nice.

I should also add that while, mathematically speaking, there's no doubt I received less of Mum and Dad's attention than if I'd been an only, I never felt deprived in that regard. And I got far more interaction and attention from my family than most kids, because there was more family! I don't understand why the parent-child relationship is seen as the only kind of attention in families; my five sisters and I did a heck of a lot of interacting on a daily basis. And when we hung out with Mum and Dad, it didn't feel like we were each only getting a sixth of the attention, you know? It doesn't work like that.

That probably sounds a lot more fervent than I intended. I'm not saying "Big families good, small families bad" - like I said, I don't know if I'll end up with a big family myself. But I do think "more kids, less attention from Mum and Dad" is simplistic. More kids also means more attention from the other kids. Which is why I do want to have at least one sibling for Rowan. What she misses out on in terms of my and DH's attention (a quantitative thing) she'll gain in the relationship with a brother or sister (a qualitative thing).

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Old 06-30-2009, 07:02 AM
 
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As I said on the onlies thread, I'm an only. And I did not receive a significant chunk of my parents attention or attachment growing up.
One discussion that is frequently rehashed over and over again is whether it is possible for child and parent to be securely attached when spending significant amounts of time apart.

A&A, the reason I'm offended by your comment about peak oil is because it isn't relevant to the question. I think everyone here can read, and the vast majority of people who post on MDC are aware of peak oil, the implications, and that this is real and happening now. It isn't a hypothetical point in the future, this is OUR life, RIGHT NOW. And yes, it is a factor that plays into decisions on family size. To walk into a discussion about what life is like in a large family, how it is, how it works, how it doesn't work, and to make what could be considered an insinuation that moms of many are irresponsible isn't polite. What would have been far more helpful is if you'd handed out a few suggestions from your childhood of what worked and what could have been done differently, other than having fewer children.

Helen mum to five and mistress of mess and mayhem, making merry and mischief til the sun goes down.
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Old 06-30-2009, 09:33 AM
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I dunno... I'd love to hear whatever you've got to say about it

Thanks!
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A&A, the reason I'm offended by your comment about peak oil is because it isn't relevant to the question.

With all due respect, flapjack, I find it relevant. I find it part of "whatever" I've got to say about large families, which is what the OP asked for.

The question didn't come from someone who already had a large family, the question came from someone contemplating a large family. There's a difference.

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Old 06-30-2009, 09:54 AM
 
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As I said on the onlies thread, I'm an only. And I did not receive a significant chunk of my parents attention or attachment growing up.
One discussion that is frequently rehashed over and over again is whether it is possible for child and parent to be securely attached when spending significant amounts of time apart.
In relation to large families, I think this has less to do with family size and more to do with family dynamics.

My parents both come from four-child families. My dad and his siblings were all super secure, well-loved, well-cared for, and grew up to be healthy adults with healthy relationships with their parents, siblings, partners, and children. That side of the family is the kind that has tons of fun whenever we get together. :
My mom and her siblings were abused (by their drunk mom) and neglected (by their drunk dad). They all grew up with issues because of that, and I would say my mom is the only one of the three who has it together, and it took her many years and lots of therapy. The baby of the family is trying his best, but lacks some essential life/relational skills.

One can't say having 4 children is good because of my dad's experience, or that it's bad because of my mom's experience. What makes or breaks the family is so much more than a number.

Also, I think personalities have a lot to do with how children experience their life and react to it as adults. My 3 siblings and I have different personalities, and we have different memories of certain events that happened in our childhoods, and different feelings relating to those events. So our view of our upbringing is different. I know the baby of our family views her childhood as repressive/strictured/boring, even though the rest of us watched our parents become more and more liberal in their parenting with her. lol. They were never super-strict to begin with, and we certainly weren't oppressed or abused. But her feeling about it matches her entire outlook on life, and the way she's been since she was tiny.
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Old 06-30-2009, 10:21 AM
 
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Yes, position in the family and personality both play a big part in whether a large family is functional or not.

The other thing I notice from my experiences with DH's family vs. mine, I believe has to do with modelling. The children notice when "what you say" and "what you do" don't match up.

In my family of origin, the children were sometimes treated as servants. "Could you get me a glass of juice?" isn't a big deal when it's reciprocated all around. "In this family, we help each other out." However, in my family-of-origin, the children were not permitted to say "no" to the parents requests. Not merely in matters of health and safety, but also in trivial things like juice. Nor were the children allowed to make those requests of the parents.

I think the relevance of birth order depends on these type of dynamics. If you want to "talk the talk" of "in our family, we take care of each other", the parents have to walk the walk. Where the parents meet the needs of the older children, the older children are freer to help meet the needs of younger children.

Resources ARE more constrained in a large family, it's simply a fact of life. The question then becomes, what do you do with what you have? In my MIL's family, when a child wanted to switch from glasses to contact lenses, they got a job and earned the money themselves. The parents modelled savings, supported the children in getting jobs and being able to make it to work, and enabled them to successfully do the things that were important to them.

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Old 06-30-2009, 12:38 PM
 
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Both dh and I grew up in large families.

For the most part, it was dreadful. We had reasonably good parents, and both our fathers made a good living--dh's dad was a doctor and mine was an engineering manager. Still, money was always tight. It was loud and chaotic. We had stay at home moms, but got far less personal attention than our kids do and I work out of the home full time. We had good mothers who tried hard, but it was just too much and they were burned out.

There was tons of sibling rivalry, and that's putting it gently. In no way do I think that attention from siblings is equivalent to attention from parents. I could have done with much less of the former and much more of the latter.

My older sibs did everything they could to get out of the loud, chaotic house that they could. They resented being expected to help out with the younger kids and I don't blame them. So, they joined every after school activity they could find, and got jobs for evenings and weekends. They didn't care what the work was, so long as they weren't at home. I have almost no childhood memories of my two oldest sisters. My childhood memories of my two older brothers largely consist of fighting and bickering and teasing.

None of us was close growing up, and we aren't especially close as adults. We get along OK, but I go months without talking to some of my siblings who live right in town, and the same goes for dh.
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Old 06-30-2009, 05:19 PM
 
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I grew up the youngest of 6 children. There are good things and bad things about being a member of such a large family.

I'll start with the good things. I've never been lonely. I love having all these siblings to relate to. If one or two are having a disagreement, there's always someone else they can talk to. We keep each other in check pretty well. I feel like I will still have a strong support system when I no longer have my parents. We were raised extremely close. We still live within close proximity of each other and get together weekly with at least some of our family members (whoever can). Just last weekend, all of us threw a surprise party for our parents' 40th anniversary. We had around 100 people attend, fed them dinner, had drinks, music, dancing, etc. Having so many of us really came in handy and we were able to plan a wonderful party for our parents! I always wanted a large family, having come from one myself. The good points have always outweighed the bad in my situation.

The bad things... hand-me-downs sucked but I could deal. I am the youngest, so I still feel like my opinions are not valued much when it comes to my siblings (I'll always be the baby). Sometimes it is difficult to separate my own beliefs from the beliefs of my family and there is backlash involved when I don't follow their lead.

Again, I've always thought it was great. And thoroughly enjoyed growing up in a large family, even if I am the youngest. Now, that I've had my first, I don't think I will end up having as many children as I'd originally planned on, but that's for my own sanity. I want to give her siblings. More than one.

Mallory. Happily married to Joe since 6/25/05. Loving my adventure with my girls, Owyn Samantha, born 3/1/09. dust.gif and Greta June, born 11/2/11  babygirl.gif

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