3.19.2008

Be fruitful and multiply! (?)


My sister and her family are visiting for a few days...so I thought I'd repeat a post from last October...



Last week a friend of mine announced to me that she is pregnant, with baby number six! I am really happy for her. She is completely organized, calm and happy, I don't know how she does it. (Valium?) I thought about the prospect of having six children, the logistics alone seem so daunting! How can you have six children dressed, fed, packed up and in the car (if your car is big enough) every morning? How can the average family pay for all the activities, clothes, dental work, etc. needed to raise six children?

The following is an Article by educational consultant, James B. Stenson, of the website ParentLeadership.com. He firmly believes that larger families are very beneficial for children.


Surrounded by siblings' conversation and playful interaction, they enjoy constant intellectual stimulation. This strengthens and sharpens their judgment.

They're surrounded by laughter. By and large, even with its ups and downs, the home of a large family is a happy place, a place of healthy fun. Good cheer, it seems, is livelier, more heartfelt, when shared with a crowd. All their lives, children from a large family remember the fun they had together, the sheer delight of being alive surrounded by love.

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
corrupting 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.



Many of the articles I read on the advantages of having many children mentioned that children from large families will not be spoiled or coddled. Although some people choose to have fewer children for financial reasons, that doesn't mean they intend to shower them with material goods. Just because someone has the funds to indulge their children doesn't mean they choose to do so.

The complete opposite end of the spectrum are those who choose not to have children. A friend of mine from high school never had kids, never wanted them. She said she absolutely never had any maternal feelings. She enjoys golf, tennis, travel. Her house is always in order and she has complete freedom. Sounds great on paper, but I cannot imagine it. I've always known I wanted to have children and I thank God everyday that I do.

The bottom line is, the decision to have a family is very personal. No matter how many children we have, as parents we all try our best to give our children a strong foundation. If they have siblings, hopefully they will have good relationships. It's hard work, no matter what.

**Please share your thoughts on this subject. My comment box is open 24 hours a day and I await your insightful remarks with eager anticipation!


23 comments:

Polly said...

I'm in the big family boat. We have four and I had 3 miscarriages. At 42, I'm ready to move onto another stage.
Little kids don't need a lot. Our culture pushes baby paraphanalia, but really , our kids didn't start costing money till about 9th grade -braces, high school, sports, serious music lessons, cars and phones. Unlike their smaller familied friends, our teens work to pay for their phones and the car and extra clothes or fun money. It has also been a wonderful experience for our teens to have a baby sister. It really drives home the responsibility. And I also think that more kids is healthier for mama. (Ok, maybe not mental health, but . ... ) Fewer periods and longer breastfeeding means less cancer.

magnolia mama said...

I also have a high school friend who has chosen not to have children. I respect her for that decision. She was an only child and her family life was not great to say the least.

As for having big families, not my cup of tea but if you have the means, go for it!

atlanta social said...

We do not have kid(s) yet. It is a constant debate if we will have them and how many. Both of us are very career driven and neither is willing to quit work.

There is no way I could ever 6 and that is great that your friend is able to do that.It is amazing in this day.

suburban prep said...

I am the oldest of 7 siblings. It has been the greatest blessing to have these people in my life. The youngest is 10 1/2 yrs younger than I am so we are all rather close in age.
There have been rather rough times in our lives when one of my sisters became very ill (cancer). I think that a good part of the reason that she is still with us is because the other 6 of us and my parents and the spouses of those married rallied around her to do whatever we could.
I am unable to have children for medical reasons and financially it would be a hardship for adoption. I put forth the love that I have for "my " kids towards my nieces and nephews. In fact I take care of an 18 month old one day a week. I love the time that I am able to spend with these children.

hello sunshine! said...

I'm in the medium-family boat. I'm an only child and would like two - my man, however, has a little sister and wants one kid, that's it.

We'll see. (We have a while to think about it! :))

A Buns' life said...

I definitely think that some people (or moms) are more "cut out" to handle the stress of more kids than others. I/we personally are going through this trying to decide whether or not to have another one or not. If having another one will make me more stressed, ie crabbier and shorter tempered, then we shouldn't because then we are doing a disservice to our existing children. I know our daughter would love to have a baby around but they are only a baby for so long, and then if it was another brother instead of a sister, oh boy.....

Mom on the Run said...

We have 4, and I agree that they only get more expensive as they get older. One good thing, in our family anyway, is that they learn to be realistic. Sorry, sister, you're not going to Mt. Holyoke, you're going in-state and getting the HOPE scholarship...so get over yourself.

My kids are 7 years apart from the youngest to oldest, they're two girls, then two boys. They've always shared bedrooms, have to settle for a cheaper and older car than their more spoiled friends, and don't get everything they want. Oh well.

They do suck the life out of you. We have two in college now, and even though they are the two low maintenance kids, it's still easier around here without so many people in the house who constantly have needs to be met (emotionally, financially and physically...like LAUNDRY).

Somedays I'm really happy we had all of them, and others.....well, WHAT WAS I THINKING?

P said...

I have two kids and that is enough for me. I'm not sure if I could get them all to school in the mornings without touching each other, putting their knee in the other kid's space, arguing over the misspelling of the word "teddy" as if their lives depended on it, and the ritual of arguing every single morning over who made us late that morning. And that was just TODAY! I mean, really, how many times can you threaten to pull the car over on a 3-mile journey to school each morning!

Scarlett O'Kara said...

I have two beautiful children and count my blessings every day...even when I am stumbling around from lack of sleep! It is true that you do not know what your life is lacking until you have a child. Not sure if we will have any more. That topic is still up for debate. If our financial situation improves, then more than likely we will...

Impoverished Preppy said...

I've always wanted four children... preferably four daughters. (No offense to those of you with boys, but I grew up reading Ballet Shoes, the Little House and All of a Kind Family books and Little Women - a family of girls being the ultimate grouping was drummed into me from the age of 6!)

Obviously our efforts to add to our family of two daughters has run into some problems, and one of the ways I've been consoling myself is that I will be able to indulge my girls. Still, I think that I would happily give up certain things if it meant I could have my family of four.

Amy said...

My mom is one of four girls and I always loved the relationships between her and her sisters. And now I'm so thrilled to have four daughters of my own. I hope that they will remain close, but we'll see... We're entering the teen years now and all bets are off!

The Chic Chauffeur said...

We have 4 (it goes boy girl boy girl, and they go from age 13 to 6), and I must say, the are all fairly easy going, low maintenance kids. They know they can't do some of the things their friends get to do, because logistically, it is impossible! Too many kids, not enough handlers. I do think having siblings helps you learn to get along with others, but don't think that's the only way you can learn that skill. The older ones also have to help the younger ones, so there's a nice lesson there as well. I wouldn't have our family any other way, and love all the different personalities of all the kids! But I think families come in all sizes, and each size has it's pros and cons!

LunaNik said...

I never wanted children. Really. I got pregnant with my first daughter while on the pill and pregnant with my second while breastfeeding. Both were completely unplanned. Now that I have them, I can't imagine my life without them.

Because of this, I can honestly see this arguement from both sides.

As for large families...well, I always thought they were effing crazy until I had kids. Now, I can completely see myself surrounded by my offspring...if I was a gazillionaire that is. Seriously, large families are wonderful and I wish I had the financial means to afford to have more children.

prepinparadise said...

My older sis is pregnant with number 4, and I am certain she mildly insane. I don't know how you women do it. I have no kids yet, but I do nanny three children full time, one being a four-month old. I literally burst out the door at quittin' time with a smile on my face thanking God for my freedom. I say, choose to have no kids, or choose to have 10~~~whatever floats your boat!

QueenMother said...

I am happy with our three. We are constantly asked if there will be more-which is really annoying because for various reasons-one mental-another child would be such a bad idea-I wish people would stop asking!

We are very strict with our kids with regards to toys, etc. I don't even buy them Happy Meal type meals if we eat fast food.

I don't know if I agree that a larger family is the only way to teach kids between wants and needs.

thorngren said...

I am one of those rare women who chose not to have children. At times I feel like I don't fit in with other women, but I have a loving husband who loves to travel and that makes up for all of it. Some women are just not meant for that role. I still feel like a child at 41!

Queen Mommy said...

This is one of my favorite topics. I am the 4th of 5. I had three kids in three years, literally. The oldest is 5, middle is 3.5 and the baby is 2. I wanted four, but it looks as thouh we will be done with three. I believe in a big family. My siblings and I need eachother, obviously at different times in our lives. The sibling relationship is the longest out of any relationship in our lives. Siblings are a wonderful gift that I have given to them.
If I could guarantee a girl, I would have a fourth. Oldest needs a sister.

Anonymous said...

I think having a large family in this day and age is just not responsible in the larger picture. The world continues to overpopulate and resources diminish at a rapid rate and while it may be ok to say, "it doesn't affect my little corner of the world", its just not something this generation should be doing for the sake of future generations.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with anonymous, regarding consideration of the impact to the world overall. I mean, I understand that some people feel like a large family supplies lots of love and affection and joy; being the younger of two I can't really express an opinion on that. However, I just don't see how we are all supposed to survive if we continue to overpopulate the planet. We have two children, and I have friends with four kids, know folks with six, one and none. All are responsible to their children (those that have them), teaching them values, right from wrong, discernment for daily needs/wants. However, there are finite resources to all of us - ALL of us, worldwide - and if we keep having more children born than people that are dying (and we are, don't deceive yourselves) we will be, in essence condemning our children's children to being unable to provide for their needs, not to mention their wants.

Drowsey Monkey said...

I don't have kids and never seriously thought about it. To be honest, I never considered the possibility. It shocked me when I got older and people started asking me why I didn't, I guess I just assumed most people didn't want kids and those who did made some huge decision to do so, LOL. Kinda funny to me now, but I seriously never thought about it. Now I'm 45 and can't imagine having children. It's just something I never think about. But hey, more power to all you who do...it's a huge job.

Happy Homemaker said...

That article makes sense to me. On the other hand, I completely respect people who choose never to have children. Personally, I have always known I wanted children. We have two and some days I wish we had more (not completely sure we're done yet) while other days I feel fulfilled with the two we have. Hopefully time will tell!

jennie w. said...

I'm one of those crazy people who has six children (3 boys, 3 girls ages 2-12). I'm surprised at how many people ask if they were "on purpose". Because nobody in their right minds would have that many, I guess. (they were all planned, BTW). I didn't really plan to have six when we got married, but I kept feeling like somebody was missing. When I was pregnant with #6 I knew for sure that he would be my last.
You have to be pretty calm and mellow to have that many kids. Life is crazy and NOISY with that many people. That article is very true. There is a lot of friendship and helping among the sibs. They don't quarrel much. There is always someone to play with and cheer them on. The kids have learned to be selfless by taking care of each other (especially the babies) and sharing bedrooms.
They don't get involved in lots of activities because it's just not fair to the rest of the kids to be constantly dragged around from one place to another. If there is something they love, then they can participate, otherwise no.
Financially it's a stretch, especially orthodontics, etc. In the long run, though, what difference does it make? I can't buy as much stuff, I guess. Vacations are a hardship. Not only financially (Disney for 8 people-ouch!) but staying in hotel rooms is very difficult. It's usually a condo or nothing.
I love having a big family. I don't regret it for a second. I don't think most people have the stamina for it, though. It is exhausting. And the laundry . . .

Mrs. Sitcom said...

I have known my whole life I wanted to have kids...for us the question now is just how many. I think time and finances will dictate that as we go along, altho' I definitely err on the side of more :) I can't imagine not wanting kids (or, I should say, the people who are militantly opposed to having kids and take every opportunity to say so...), but I also applaud them for being honest enough to know they don't -- it wouldn't be fair to themselves or the kids otherwise! :) I think in most circumstances, more siblings is great -- assuming you all get along! :)

 
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