Six Kids

This is missing 2 of my siblings. (L to R) me, Sam, Mom, Anna, Dad, Madeline last October
here I am with my siblings Anna, Ben and Meg. In 2005 at Ben's wedding

I know I’ve done many posts about my childhood and family but I don’t think I’ve ever specifically addressed the fact I am from such a large family.  It’s funny because in the Mormon world six kids doesn’t necessarily feel unusual or particularly large (my brother in law is from a family of 10 kids if that tells you anything).

My situation is even more unique because of the age gaps between all the children.  Many people looking at my family might assume we are a blended, Brady bunch style but that is not the case.  My parents couldn’t have kids for a long stretch of time and then after 10 years of waiting started again.  They literally have been raising kids for over 30 years of their lives.  I don’t know many human beings that can say that (and they still have six years to go with minors at home!).

I will be the first to say I don’t think I could do what my parents have done- especially with my mother’s tough pregnancies (full bed rest for the last 3).  I’m not the best at managing stress and balancing emotions (this is partly why I found my mission so difficult).   I also have never felt like I am the greatest with kids (I know it is different for your own but still 30 years of parenting! I don’t think I could do it!).

I think given I’m 30 and not in a relationship, the likelihood of my having six kids anyway is slim to none . I’m actually kind of weird in the Mormon world because I don’t feel a huge need to have children.  I’ll be happy if the opportunity comes but I’m perfectly content loving my nieces to pieces.

That said, if you are thinking of having a large family I will provide you with a list of the pros and cons.

Pros-

Older kids get provided with many leadership opportunities.

For an independent kid like me it was good to be given meaningful responsibilities towards the survival of the family (cooking meals, cleaning, watching children etc)

The more children in a family the more sacrifice each member must make. Sacrifice can be hard but it also bonds family members together in a way no other type of love can.

Harder to feel lonely in a big family.

Always someone to talk to or play with.

As adults it is wonderful to have siblings to bounce ideas off of and share experiences.  Its different than a friend.

It is also nice to see the diversity within a family and neat to see and share common personality traits and interests between siblings.

Gives many opportunities to serve siblings and work together on projects.

It can be a lot of fun!

Food is cheaper by the dozen

Parents get lots of grandkids to spoil at the end

Cons-

Parent time is stretched

Parent money is stretched

Parent patience can be stretched

Sacrifice can be tough on older children

More kids, more opportunities for fights, jealousy, tantrums, anger, rebellion and tempers

Everything will not be fair between siblings (I don’t know if it necessarily should be)

Because of the stretched resources in both time and money children may miss out on some experiences

It may not be possible for parents to be as involved in the minutia of their child’s life as other parents of small families

That’s some of my thoughts.  Whether you are from a large or small family what do you think some of the advantages/disadvantages are?

8 thoughts on “Six Kids

  1. Now having my second I’m finding that my time and attention is already stretched, but I don’t think that is completely a con. Jackson is learning so much from having to wait for me. He is now understanding delayed gratification as well as patience. I was worried that this would cause him to be jealous of James, but it seems to be the opposite. He loves his brother and doesn’t want him upset or left behind. Whenever James is fussy Jackson is the first one there kissing him and telling him “Its OK brother. Its OK.” (that’s a direct quote). Someone suggested that I have one on one activities with Jackson. The minute I tried to leave the door without the baby, Jackson was in hysterics crying for brother. This world would have you believe that sacrifice destroys love, but a willing sacrifice strengthens and forges love.

    I grew up with just one brother. As I child I enjoyed the attention and my mother was definitely able to help me find opportunities for development and education. Having married Derek who is one of 14 he didn’t have as much of that attention or educational opportunities. I obviously have the advantage there. Yet, as an adult I see the relationships between his siblings and I realize that there are things I miss out on. I never had a sister and I am sometimes envious of this very different kind of relationship. He also has a vast support system (which being married into I get access to yay!) that can be missing from a smaller family. I guess its just a balance. As a parent I want my children to have both. Hopefully I can give every child the attention they need as well as the opportunities, but I cannot deprive my children the rich blessings that are siblings.

    Ps Am I the 1000 commenter? I sure hope so.

    1. Thanks for the comment! You are the 1,000th Comment! One of these days I will take you to dinner! That is an interesting comment about Jackson learning to wait for you. I hadn’t really thought of it in quite that way. Older children are taught patience.
      I think my parents were particularly stretched because they had babies and teenagers to manage at the same time, which is difficult. They did a great job but it was challenging. I am sure some of Derek’s older siblings feel a little bit like I felt with being a teenager and managing baby siblings. You love them but I think there is a more selfish side that resents them at times. There were times that my parents couldn’t come to events or be as involved as my other friends parents because they had an infant at home. This was difficult at the time. Of course, it goes without saying that it is worth it because I love my siblings but it was a challenge back then.
      I totally agree about the sacrifice forges love. I think that’s why I listed it as both a pro and a con. It can be hard but it does create ties that no other love can. I know the younger kids get tired of me saying it but I love them so much partly because of the sacrifice I paid (among others) to bring them into the world.
      I think there are benefits and challenges to any size of family and that people should have as many kids as they feel they can manage and that God inspires them to have.

  2. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. When we got married, Jeremy and I agreed that having 4-5 kids seemed ideal. Now, ten years later, we have one kid, and we’re waiting indefinitely to find number 2. Our initial idea of 4 or 5 might not ever happen, and if it does it will likely involve adoption from foster care (something I’m not sure we’ll ever really feel ok with). A lot of people tell me “oh, you can still have a big family” and they’re right, we CAN, but I wonder if that would really be the best thing. I think often people don’t consider the oldest child. Can she or he handle the responsibility of being the oldest of a big family? Is that going to help or hinder that child’s development? I think with adoption it’s more complex to add kids. Not only do you have a greater likelihood of kids having special needs because you have no control over prenatal care as, not to mention that being permanently separated from their birth is a trauma that can have lasting effects, even when it happens just after birth, but anymore you will likely be juggling contact with all of the birth parents as well. Adopting sibling groups helps with that, but then you have a greater likelihood of having attachment issues with any children you adopt who are older than two.

    Anyway, I appreciate your input on this. It’s something I think I’ll have to reevaluate each time we go to adopt another child, and since my husband and I didn’t grow up in big families (4 kids and 3, respectively) it helps to have the perspective of someone who did.

    1. I’m glad my thoughts helped you a little bit. That reaffirms why I write these pieces, so thank you for sharing that.
      I think I probably was the most affected by being in a large family both positively and negatively. I was someone who needed a lot of positive reinforcement and care but I seemingly didn’t need it. I put up a very independent front but also sought that validation. It took some digging to figure that out and my parents did the best they could and I’m grateful but it was a challenge.
      It also gave me some leadership opportunities which suited my personalities and literally required me to serve and sacrifice to bring them into the world and for my parents to take time to care for an infant child.
      Each family is different and like you are saying the way those children come into a family is important. In my family it was teenagers and babies which was a unique dynamic. An environment of service but also sacrifice.
      I know people that seem unwilling to admit there are negative sides to large families but I feel that is naive. There are pluses and minuses to anything in life and just because there are considerations doesn’t mean it is bad. It just means you are smart and thoughtful in making decisions.

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