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Moxie

Big families--any bitter kids??

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Most people that I know who have grown up in families with six or more children have a few who are bitter.  The most common complaints I hear are:

 

1. No privacy.  They hated having to share a bedroom with their siblings as they grew older.  This is especially true for those who were introverted or more private by nature.  Always having someone right THERE grew to be intolerable.

 

2.  Not enough money.  Sometimes it's hard to be the one who never gets to do what other kids are doing.  I don't think this means the person is selfish, they just had something they really wanted to do or participate in, and it wasn't going to happen in their family.  And sometimes, it wasn't exclusively for financial reasons.  Some parents felt it wasn't "fair" for one child to get something or have the opportunity to do something, while the others couldn't.  One of my friends was so upset because she wasn't allowed to accompany me on a beach trip (it would not have cost her a dime) because her parents felt that it wasn't fair for her to spend a week at the beach if her siblings couldn't do that, too.  I think her mom just didn't want to have to deal with the other kids while she was gone.

 

3.  Too much responsibility for home and siblings, and not enough time to just be a kid themselves.  Sometimes moms don't realize just how often they ask those older children to "watch the baby" while I get dinner.

 

4.  Not enough space, peace, or quiet in their homes. They never grew out of the "baby stage" in their homes.  There was always a baby, a toddler, or noisy preschoolers underfoot.  All. The. Time.  My one friend used to tell me how much she loved coming to my house because it was so quiet (I have only one younger brother).  We would spend summer days sitting in my room reading Nancy Drew books, and she cherished that time, because it was peaceful and she was never interrupted.

 

In each of these cases, the (now adults) generally moved out of their homes at college age, married early, and did not have more than three children.  They all get along fine with their family of origin, but they do have issues that have carried over into their adult lives.  I had one friend say to me once (and it's always stuck with me), "I wonder who I could have been now, if I'd had the luxury of growing up in a home where there wasn't so much chaos.  Where I could breathe, and ponder, and have time for myself.  Where I wasn't consumed by the constant presence of my siblings.  Where I could have had the opportunity to have lessons and develop talents."  And I wouldn't say she's bitter at all...just a bit wistful.

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Thinking more on this, bitterness or none may be partly a reflection of whether parents seemed to really be doing their best, and to be competent overall. If your childhood, in retrospect, looks like a series of poor decisions on your parents' part, their having had more children than they could manage is part of a pattern of not planning ahead when it comes to things that are irreversible.

If you are ten or fifteen and you can see the pattern and its effects on everybody, it's hard to shrug and be thankful every time another stupid thing happens (eviction, repossession, divorce, undersupervised sibling getting into trouble, being left out of a big opportunity for others your age, whatever).

 

I get the not-asking thing a PP mentioned. My parents probably still don't know I wanted to play a sport at school in high school.

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I'm the oldest of four, and I don't recall being bitter. I definitely don't wish my parents had stopped with one or two, because then I wouldn't have my baby sister, and I love her, and the brothers between us, to pieces. Would I have liked a little more money available for activities and lessons? Yes. But having fewer kids wouldn't have necessarily made that possible anyway.

 

None of my five seems bitter. They feel somewhat sorry for the only child of two working parents who lives near us, because she doesn't have any built in playmates and sometimes seems a little lonely, whereas my kids are always running around the yard together, in some random combination of kids. (She isn't out much, but they do include her when they see her.). My older ones are old enough to realize that fewer kids would mean more cash available for their wants, but I don't think any of them ever feel actually bitter or wish we didn't have the babies. Actually, they all love on and adore the babies a LOT, and they constantly beg me for another baby. When we told them we were expecting the fifth, I expected my oldest to be thrilled, and she was, but I wasn't expecting that my second would be quite as overjoyed as he actually was. My big kids help out, but my littles do too when they can. In a largeish family, everyone contributes as they're able. When I was recovering from appendicitis, my mom told me how much my oldest did with the two littlest. They might not feel like helping out with the littles at any given moment, but actually resentful? I don't think so. Fwiw, I do most baby care. My big ones help keep an eye on littles outside, but they don't do baths or diapers, except for the occasional time when I am not available. Mostly, they do clean up after the littles some (like, all kids get a room to tidy daily) and help with putting shoes on, filling water bottles, and buckling car seats. (This I consider to be perfectly fair because when we go out, it's usually for the big kids' class, where the little brothers have to sit and wait, so the trade off seems entirely fair to me, and even if the big ones grumble a bit in the moment occasionally, they will agree that it is fair also.)

 

I do think teens and preteens can be obnoxious and grumpy in general, so I wouldn't take it too personally. It doesn't necessarily mean said kid wishes some of the younger ones don't exist.

 

Yes, I am constantly begged for another baby! My kids are sooo good with others' babies and toddlers too. I LOVE those stages though, so I think it's rubbed off on them. LOL.  My kids love having built in playmates too and think that they would be super lonely and it wouldn't be as fun if they were only children/had less siblings (observations they've made of neighbors and such). Of course more mom and dad time if you're an only which is special too, but less sibling love.  

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I liked a thread post in another thread about nursing home vent. Someone mentioned in their home country that elder care is managed by the entire large family so it isn't years on end one on one care 24/7 for any one child of an eldery parent.

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mommaduck, I always find it ironic when younger siblings complain about living in a large family or birth order or what have you. Someone in my life complains about how hard it is having older parents (she has two older brothers and she's 10 years younger than them-she was an oops) and that she'll never have kids later in life like they did. Um, you wouldn't be here darling otherwise, have you made that connection? Ingratitude much?

I have complained about this before. I can see pros and cons. So what, she has a perspective that allows her to see it from a different angle. Let her. I had a classmate ask if my dad was my grandpa. I like to think of my parents as wise. But as an adult it saddens me they cannot be as involved with my kids as I'd like because as Mom has aged her Parkinson's has gotten worse.

 

You cannot please everyone. There are pros and cons to all family sizes I am sure.

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I will say that I get the privacy concerns.  Only my daughter has her own room, and only because she's the only girl.  My one son adores his brothers but sometimes gets annoyed that he doesn't have his own space for his own stuff.  I can see why that's irritating.  Right now, there isn't much I can do about it, but our plan in the long run is for that son (the oldest) to get his own room, while the middle two boys (who are pretty much joined at the hip) share a room.  As of now, and probably for several more years, the littlest boy sleeps with us, and we may put him in with the oldest boy at some point, or at least keep his clothes in there.  I actually think that will work pretty well for a while, but really, we're kind of laid back about who sleeps where, so it also wouldn't bother me to put the three youngest boys in a room and have the oldest have his own room if that's what he needs.  (Second son is very outgoing and extroverted and seems to thrive on having more people around.)  Whatever the need, we also have a pretty big house, so there's always somewhere to go if you need to be alone, which I think is the key.  We HAVE a schoolroom, for instance, but the kids frequently take their work to a different room if they need more quiet.

 

I think my kids get different advantages to being the oldest, youngest, and middle, same as happened in my family growing up.  I got to do things first, and every milestone was new and exciting for my parents, and I got privileges (like choosing my seat in the car) just because I was the oldest; my sister got the benefit of parents who weren't as worried about making mistakes because they'd already figured out the parenting thing, and she got to have them all to herself after we moved out.  Sometimes I was a little bored because an activity favored the younger three; sometimes baby sister was bored because an activity favored the older three.  I figure there were ups and downs to all of it, and overall, my parents were good, competent, and involved parents, and we all turned out okay.

 

I do think that at some point in your adult life, you have to forgive your parents for what they could or couldn't or did or didn't do for you.  Short of things like not providing food or basic education or basic care, or outright abuse, who knows how your life might have been different if they'd made sports available to you, or if they hadn't pushed sports so heavily, or whatever?  You are who you are, and most people just need to realize that their parents were doing the best they could with whatever resources they had available at the time.

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Other things to help create quiet and space in a large family:

 

Have all kids 5 and younger nap or have at least an hour quiet time. This gives the older ones time to do their model kit projects and other stuff that having little ones around makes it hard. The rest of the kids go outside and play or have quiet time doing independent projects inside. The house is quiet is the point!  I NEED quiet, so it's something we really work on in our home. My babies and toddlers were all good nappers. I used a fan and they always slept at least 2 hours during the day. 

 

Car time is QUIET. That's the way it works around here. My kids like to bring a book to read, listen to music or books on tape on errands, but it's quiet time.

 

After 8 (later in the summer) it's bed time/quiet time/reading time. The oldest 3 read for hours which is great cause I'm not a morning person and they sleep in! ;)

 

2 people talking at once is so not okay. I really work with my kids on taking turns talking.

 

MY kids are allowed to go in my room and lay on my bed and read quietly if their bedroom is being played in . We also have a cafe table with two chairs in our room that they are welcome to. I'm never in there during the day, so I don't mind usually. We have a lovely air purifier in our room that drowns out all the noise in the house. Love that thing. 

 

There's probably more than I'm thinking about that we do too. :)

 

 

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I get the privacy and quiet time. I try to give it to various children as much as I can. Some need it more. Others don't have any understanding of the concept and prefer to cling to everyone else. I've even enjoy peaceful moments on my 90yr neighbour's back porch, because it was QUIET and no one was calling my name or fussing. I do get that.

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I feel like I'm bashing my mom a lot on here lately in different threads. I will say that she tries very hard now and we manage to have a much healthier relationship now than in the past. I love my mother and I've forgiven a lot.

I have said some things about my mom lately that I know she would just like to be forgotten, and that she thinks were not really so bad. The truth is that I gave up a chunk of my childhood to raise my younger siblings (thank God only 3) and she just never got what I gave up. She was the youngest in her family by ten years and she always had what she needed so she had no empathy for me. She provided support for my sister and brother, and that DOES make things worse. She was a good parent to them and so she knew how to be, I was just expendable. 

 

That said, bitterness would not help my lfe and I have done my best not to give in to it, but as I get older and my children no longer need so much from me I am grieving some things quietly to get ready to move on to the next stage of my life so that I will be productive and realize I have earned the right to put myself first, even though my mother did not put me first.

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I get that, but I guess anyone could say my mom should have had an abortion, and she did consider it (I was post RvW).

 

Don't have kids if you can't give them an upper class lifestyle, I suppose some would say.

 

It's always the kids that make you poor. I wish we lived in a society in which children weren't punished for their parents' low incomes.

 

I think it's rather disgusting that an investment banker should be allowed to have 12 happy children, but a teacher should only have one (or none) because he "can't afford it".

 

Outside of China, no one is telling people how many children they are "allowed" to have.

 

I have never heard of anyone insisting that all children must have an "upper class lifestyle". 

 

How are children "punished" for their parents' low income?

 

All resources are limited. While we have a good income, we could not make it stretch for 12 children to have the food, clothing, shelter, and education we feel we would like to provide. Time is limited. Many people do not have the time to adequately nurture a large family. Energy is limited. How is that unfair? Emotional well-being is limited. Many of us would go bonkers managing twelve children (or less). There isn't anything wrong with us; we know we couldn't do it and choose not to. 

 

 

 

This really bothers me too.  I thinkhis is an issue that I think is a really serious one with regards to how we think about families - its implicit all around us. I really first noticed it when reading news sources from other countries where abortion is not at all controversial, because there seem to be many who just take it for granted that there is no reason to carry through with an accidental pregnancy.  I was just so surprised at how many people took it absolutly for granted that being able to give kids a lifestyle at a particular level was sort of a pre-requisit to having children, and that people who had them anyway were just irresponsible - from their perspective since there was no reason anyone should have a child by accident, they only do it because they are too irresponsible to raise kids anyway or are trying to scam the state.  They even make serious suggestions that people with more than, say, two kids, should not get extra public assistance for subsequent children.

 

It's a funny thing because while it does seem crazy on the one had to purposefully have more kids than you can feed, it is so easy to start to treat children as a sort of luxery product, and the level for being able to "afford" kids seems to move.  Do you need to be able to afford a private school, or a vacation on an air plane, or piano lessons for each child?  I have had people tell me they all need their own room.

 

 

I am opposed to abortion and pro birth control. (As an aside, I don't understand how people in this modern age have multiple unplanned children. It's just not that complicated..) I believe even unplanned children have a right to live. I disagree with your first assertion as do all those who are opposed to abortion. 

 

My dh and I know how much we wish to provide our children in terms of education and extracurriculars and clothing and time. This caused us to limit ourselves to a certain number of children. Almost everyone I know did this. I can see how children in larger families could be bitter when they did not receive much attention due to other siblings. I can see how someone could have regrets when they didn't get to participate in sports or music due to there not being enough money for each sibling to fairly participate. I can see how someone would feel awkward about wearing clothes that was in  disrepair because there wasn't enough money to buy clothing for the family.

 

Poverty typically isn't a choice. If someone's family is simply poor, I rarely hear people complain about resentfulness toward their parents. Typically, those parents did the best they could in a difficult situation. Family size is a choice.  I can see how those children could feel resentful if they missed out on opportunities because of choices their parents made that caused the family's resources to be limited because of the family size. 

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I am the oldest of 8. I am not bitter, but I am also able to realize how much more I'm able to do with my kids because I've limited my family size. There were a lot we couldn't do as the older ones because there were always babies and toddlers.

 

The four oldest of us are married and completing our families. Three out of the four have chosen sterilization at three children; the fourth has been married two years and is adamant there will not be more than a couple children. Take that anecdote as you will, but even my mother today says she likes having a lot of kids but wouldn't recommend it to her daughters.

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Kids who come from small families can also reject that in favor of a large family--my FIL only had one brother, but opted for nine kids of his own :) My dad was from a family of four kids but chose to have ten. My BIL is from a family of three but has twelve children.

Yes, this was me!  I only had one brother, 3 years younger than me.  We were and still are quite close, but I thought it was so incredibly boring and predictable--one boy and one girl!  So I was pretty resolved to have more than 2 kids.  Ten was not really ever a thought in my younger mind, however, LOL.  

 

My dh grew up as the youngest of 6.  His family is not close at all as adults, and I think a lot of that was his parents' fostering of competition between the siblings.  Also, his dad was an angry alcoholic, so that had something to do with things as well.  Dh was worried about having a big family because he didn't want our kids to end up with the lack of relationships that his siblings have ended up.  

 

Our oldest 4 are boys, and I don't think they have been unduly burdened by caring for younger siblings.  All the kids have been extremely thrilled when we've been expecting another baby, and I just love seeing our oldest boys with the toddlers and babies.  They are so good with them, and it is so sweet to see them on the floor, playing duplos, or out in the yard helping them learn how to throw a football or kick a soccer ball!

 

Maybe homeschooling has helped mine with not comparing.  Other families that are our good friends also have more than an average number of kids (5-6), and they also don't go to Disney, get new clothes, do a ton of extra-curricular activities, or whatever, so I don't think there's a ton to be jealous of.  It's more like we're just normal among our circle of friends.  That being said, we have also gone out of our way to make things happen for specific kids who have expressed interest/shown talent in a particular area--gymnastics, art lessons, whatever--that not every other child has done.  And we have also really tried to do things to make memories, and not just always say we can't because lots of younger kids.  So for example last year in February we took a military space-a trip to Hawaii with all 11 of us.  It was fun (and somewhat stressful for me), but we made such great memories without spending a ton (we stayed with friends who were living over there, which helped greatly, and we of course didn't have to pay for the flights).  In August we all accompanied dh on a business trip to Boston.  We paid for a second room, and then we went sightseeing while he had his meetings, and we were there for an extra weekend before the meetings started so dh could do a few things with us.  Again, it was somewhat stressful for me, keeping track of everyone, driving the big van around Boston by myself, and being 8 months pregnant with #10.  But it was so worth it in terms of family memories, and we had a great time!  I hope the kids learn to just roll with things--I think that is one thing that *having* a lot of kids has taught me!

 

I don't know that any of my kids will have so many kids themselves, although all of them right now say they wold like to have big families.  But that's okay. I don't feel the need to justify my own life path by how my kids live!  We have been so blessed by the Lord to have all these kids, and I enjoy each and every one of them so much.  I enjoy their different personalities, and how each of them add in different ways to our family.  I can't wait to see what they all end up doing as adults, and I am really enjoying the changing relationships with my older teens, as they prepare to leave home.  So fun!

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I've found this thread really interesting! Thanks for sharing, everyone.

 

We have 4 currently, and will probably add 1 or 2 more. My older 2 are presently fighting over the baby. ;)

 

But this thread has brought up many points that we are very mindful of and intentional about, it has been an interesting reminder!

 

Ftr, my kids all have their own *very small* rooms but we have a large property so escape isn't that hard. My oldest, the only girl, loves to think of herself as mini mum which I nip immediately, mainly because she plays at my responsibilities as an excuse to neglect her own, very reasonable, responsibilities!

Eta, her responsibilities are, school work, instrument practice, 1 load of dishes (we don't have a dishwasher), and keeping her room/space tidy. General helpfulness is spread, intentionally, over all the kids, but never includes 'mum' jobs like diapers.

If anything, my next oldest has more jobs as he has an innate sense of duty!

 

There are varying levels of bitterness vs family size in our families, and neither dh or I are from large sibling groups (well, I am if you count steps & halfs but different dynamic and loooong back story!)

 

I guess my thoughts are that we do our best and all in all they have a good life, I hope they come to see that eventually.

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I am the oldest of 8. I am not bitter, but I am also able to realize how much more I'm able to do with my kids because I've limited my family size. There were a lot we couldn't do as the older ones because there were always babies and toddlers.

 

I've always wondered what these things are that families can't do because of babies or toddlers? I hear this said a lot but we just bring them everywhere. If anything I believe the younger ones have suffered from missed nap and bed times or having to spend hours at the football field etc. I can't think of a single thing that I didn't do because of little ones. Really we just live life and drag them along, for better or worse LOL

 

Ok I can think of one thing. I didn't go to all track/cross country meets for my oldest. He let us know which ones were the important ones and we went to those. Same with marching band competitions last year for my third. We took everyone to one and had the others babysit so dh and I could go to a couple others alone.

 

When my kids have performances we hire a babysitter. Little ones just don't appreciate sitting though concerts LOL and we don't want to miss it by having to take them out.

 

We went to 2 amusement parks last month. Strollers and taking turns worked great. We go on family trips. We just make it work.

 

I really don't think my older kids are missing out. They take turns watching littles when needed so I can run others around. But it comes back around for them. Before I had olders we just all went everywhere. It was exhausting and I know some moms who just won't do team sports or whatever because it's a pain in the rear but we just did it.

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I've always wondered what these things are that families can't do because of babies or toddlers? I hear this said a lot but we just bring them everywhere. If anything I believe the younger ones have suffered from missed nap and bed times or having to spend hours at the football field etc. I can't think of a single thing that I didn't do because of little ones. Really we just live life and drag them along, for better or worse LOL

 

Ok I can think of one thing. I didn't go to all track/cross country meets for my oldest. He let us know which ones were the important ones and we went to those. Same with marching band competitions last year for my third. We took everyone to one and had the others babysit so dh and I could go to a couple others alone.

 

When my kids have performances we hire a babysitter. Little ones just don't appreciate sitting though concerts LOL and we don't want to miss it by having to take them out.

 

We went to 2 amusement parks last month. Strollers and taking turns worked great. We go on family trips. We just make it work.

 

I really don't think my older kids are missing out. They take turns watching littles when needed so I can run others around. But it comes back around for them. Before I had olders we just all went everywhere. It was exhausting and I know some moms who just won't do team sports or whatever because it's a pain in the rear but we just did it.

Are we the same person??  This is pretty much how we have handled all these things!  We all go to a few things for each child a season, and then different groupings, or sometime just dh and I, go to others.  The toddlers and babies just deal.  Like I said in my last post, when we flew space-a to Hawaii last year, our oldest was 17 and our youngest was 1 (and I was newly pregnant).  If we had waited until our kids were all "a good age", we would never have gone anywhere at all!

 

One thing has stuck with me for awhile.  Several years ago (probably 7 or 8), I had a conversation with a friend who was the oldest of 12.  She loved her big family and wasn't bitter, but she did remark that she wanted to be done having kids whenever her oldest was ready to leave the house.  She said her mom had her 12th baby just a few weeks before my friend got married, and so the mom was naturally more focused on having a newborn, nursing, etc., than on doing special things to prepare for my friend's wedding with her.  So with that in mind, our last baby is going to be our last, barring something miraculous (which would be fine, LOL!), and my oldest is going off to college this summer.  It was hard dealing with all his college applications/visits, etc. AND being pregnant/having a newborn, so I'm glad to not have to do that again!  Homeschooling rigorously through high school and dealing with newborns is also difficult and stretching for me!

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I've always wondered what these things are that families can't do because of babies or toddlers?

 

I think it also depends on how old before the child can just walk/bike/take the bus to an activity or play date alone. Kids alone on public bus from 1st grade is common where I am from so my mom doesn't need to bring me places.

 

I have only two and there were times when having an adult for each kid was handy. The incidents are more in the category of nice to be able to do than needs.

 

For those weekday daytime mommy/daddy & me classes, I went with my oldest when my mom was in town to keep an eye on my youngest in the waiting area. The weekend slots were filled up fast and cost more.

 

For Disneyland, both kids needed a chaperone for some rides. Luckily my oldest was willing to take the seat in front of me and youngest with an adult that was by herself. We didn't go on some rides until hubby was free to join us on the last day of our trip.

 

Babysitting is also costly here so if one kid is invited to a birthday party where a parent is expected to stay around, hubby would find it cheaper to clear his annual leave to go with the child than for us to hire a babysitter for three hours.

 

When my neighbor had her third child, she paid a fellow neighbor for carpooling her oldest to activities. For her it was less stressful paying for carpool than to wake two napping kids.

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Are we the same person?? This is pretty much how we have handled all these things! We all go to a few things for each child a season, and then different groupings, or sometime just dh and I, go to others. The toddlers and babies just deal. Like I said in my last post, when we flew space-a to Hawaii last year, our oldest was 17 and our youngest was 1 (and I was newly pregnant). If we had waited until our kids were all "a good age", we would never have gone anywhere at all!

 

One thing has stuck with me for awhile. Several years ago (probably 7 or 8), I had a conversation with a friend who was the oldest of 12. She loved her big family and wasn't bitter, but she did remark that she wanted to be done having kids whenever her oldest was ready to leave the house. She said her mom had her 12th baby just a few weeks before my friend got married, and so the mom was naturally more focused on having a newborn, nursing, etc., than on doing special things to prepare for my friend's wedding with her. So with that in mind, our last baby is going to be our last, barring something miraculous (which would be fine, LOL!), and my oldest is going off to college this summer. It was hard dealing with all his college applications/visits, etc. AND being pregnant/having a newborn, so I'm glad to not have to do that again! Homeschooling rigorously through high school and dealing with newborns is also difficult and stretching for me!

Yes I can see this. We just sent our oldest off on an lds mission 2 weeks ago. He had to be pretty independent with paperwork and such for that and for college. I do believe that erring on the side of independence over the alternative will still help him life in the long run :) but we were able to attend all special things for him and shop etc for him. We drove him to the training center spending 12/24 hrs in the car with a 10 month old who cries almost the whole way. But it was worth it. I do see how being pregnant or nursing with a daughter bride could be very very challenging. I don't think we will end up there though.

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I am the oldest of 8. I am not bitter, but I am also able to realize how much more I'm able to do with my kids because I've limited my family size. There were a lot we couldn't do as the older ones because there were always babies and toddlers.

 

The four oldest of us are married and completing our families. Three out of the four have chosen sterilization at three children; the fourth has been married two years and is adamant there will not be more than a couple children. Take that anecdote as you will, but even my mother today says she likes having a lot of kids but wouldn't recommend it to her daughters.

 

 

My dh (from a large family) often says we have "the luxury of a small family."   I'd never thought of it like that before, but I understand why he does.  It is interesting to see that perspective elsewhere.

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Most people that I know who have grown up in families with six or more children have a few who are bitter.  The most common complaints I hear are:

 

1. No privacy.  They hated having to share a bedroom with their siblings as they grew older.  This is especially true for those who were introverted or more private by nature.  Always having someone right THERE grew to be intolerable.

 

 

This was a problem in my family as well. My mother was very extroverted and loved nothing more than hanging out in the living room or kitchen surrounded in her kids. She had no understanding or sympathy for my need (and it was really a need) for some solitude. I pretended to sleep late on weekends so I could have time alone in my bed. She complained I was being antisocial if I hung out in my room too much. I'm very noise sensitive. I don't know if it's because of growing up in a noisy household or if I just always was like that and it made growing up in a noisy home just that much more stressful. But my kids are taught from a young age that yelling and loud playing happens outside, not inside and never ever in the car.

 

I've always wondered what these things are that families can't do because of babies or toddlers? I hear this said a lot but we just bring them everywhere. If anything I believe the younger ones have suffered from missed nap and bed times or having to spend hours at the football field etc. I can't think of a single thing that I didn't do because of little ones. Really we just live life and drag them along, for better or worse LOL

 

 

It's cool that you do that. A lot of moms find that exhausting and intolerable. I can't necessarily blame them. Trying to keep 3 or 4 little ones happy on the sidelines of a football practice a couple times a week (for instance) does sound overwhelming. For my own mother, she just couldn't deal with it.

 

I haven't let having a baby slow me down at all. It was very tiring. But it helped to have a baby that loves going places and being in the car. And it's just one little one along for the ride while I run my older two all over the place.

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We have five children, and now feel that our family is complete (which we did not feel after our fourth).  I think of us as a medium-sized family, but sometimes feel like a larger family.  Time is a lot more scarce for us than money, so if my children's clothes are in disrepair (as they are, sometimes) it is because I haven't noticed or have been too busy to mend them or order new ones.  In reading through this thread, I have realized that I should be more mindful of this, as I hadn't thought about how it might make them feel when they are older (I think they are too young to care right now).  We do extracurriculars, but primarily things we can all do together.  All the kids have swim lessons once a week, those who are of age play baseball, we take French classes together, nature center and art classes, travel and go to museums, the ballet and theater frequently (even the toddler).  Our violin teacher comes to our house once a week and does multiple lessons.  I know my oldest would like to do ballet and have a horse, but I don't think we would have time for ballet and a horse even if there were just two children!

 

If we have anything resembling bitterness, it might be my oldest.  She is a deep thinker, mature beyond her years, and needs solitude.  She complains of not having enough quiet time to do all the reading she would like, which I recognize as a valid need and have been working to build more quiet and unstructured time into her day.  It is usually her own fault, as she also loves to run around with the others playing loud and wild imaginative games (they are all best friends and can play together for hours).  Sometimes tell me she feels shortchanged about not being able to do certain things (European vacations, Disney, ballet, a horse), but I came from a smaller family and also did not do those things until later in life.  I don't think that is a large family issue.  We are not interested in Disney, but do plan to travel internationally once we are past the toddler/preschooler stage, so she may get her European vacation at least.

 

The largest downside I see to having five children is feeling like I can't meet all the needs of my children who are gifted in certain areas as I think I might be able to do with a smaller family.  For example, the 3-year-old has some talent at piano.   I imagine we could develop this there were more time; but I can't build any more music lessons into the schedule at this point (I do work with him a bit on my own, as my husband and I both play piano; and we do plan to get lessons for him when he was older).  My first grader is amazing at math, but I do not have time to take him to math circles or provide as much math enrichment as I would like.  Instead, I give him math books and online resources.  

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My cousins who have five siblings did choose to have smaller families not because they are bitter but because they just want more one to one time per child that their parents had. Their parents ran things like clockwork, very on schedule. They have two or three kids and the kids were intentionally spaced out to at least a two year gap.

 

My dad was the youngest of nine (20 years gap to oldest). It was common at that time to have nine or more. When his oldest siblings marry, six has become an acceptable number, people aren't going to ask why not more. By the time my dad and his closest in age siblings were married, three or less was acceptable. My elderly aunts did say there was a "traditional" pressure from peers to have more so for my dad's side of the family, social norms has some influence.

 

(I meant to reply here to Quill as well - my multiquote function hasn't been working for a while.)

 

I've met people like this as well, who choose, coming from big families, to have a smaller one because of their experience.  I just don't think we can generalize from that too much.  I also know people that come from big families and have big families, that come from single child or small families and have big families, or who would like a big family but don't have one because of personal circumstances (say health issues or late marriage) or because the logistics are simply not that easy.

 

 

We have some good friends who have nine kids - the wife comes from a large Catholic family while the husband was an only child.  But its informative to me to look at the logistics of that - they had to buy a 15 passenger van and get a special license which is a really significant expense - but there was no other way to get all the car seats and boosters in one vehicle. And it also can pretty much mean one parent - usually the mom - is going to have to go beyond taking a career break and actually give up a full-time job for a significant period of time.

 

I tend to think financial pressures have been one of the major factors in the change, with smaller families perhaps in part driving the tendency for families to spend a lot more time with individual kids.  there always seem to have been people who love or hated being in a big family, or loved or hated being in a small one.  Whether or not that is actually better for kids to have more parental focus on them, on average, I don't know.  I tend to think kids going off to their own ball games without the expectation of parents coming to watch has something going for it.

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I've always wondered what these things are that families can't do because of babies or toddlers? I hear this said a lot but we just bring them everywhere.

 

I don't have a big family, but there were definitely things we could no longer do when our kids were little. You can't bring a baby to the opera or symphony, and backpacking with littles does not work either. Extensive travel is very difficult, though I admit not impossible.

 

ETA: Just read that you used babysitters. Great, but not everybody has that opportunity.

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I am opposed to abortion and pro birth control. (As an aside, I don't understand how people in this modern age have multiple unplanned children. It's just not that complicated..) I believe even unplanned children have a right to live. I disagree with your first assertion as do all those who are opposed to abortion. 

 

My dh and I know how much we wish to provide our children in terms of education and extracurriculars and clothing and time. This caused us to limit ourselves to a certain number of children. Almost everyone I know did this. I can see how children in larger families could be bitter when they did not receive much attention due to other siblings. I can see how someone could have regrets when they didn't get to participate in sports or music due to there not being enough money for each sibling to fairly participate. I can see how someone would feel awkward about wearing clothes that was in  disrepair because there wasn't enough money to buy clothing for the family.

 

Poverty typically isn't a choice. If someone's family is simply poor, I rarely hear people complain about resentfulness toward their parents. Typically, those parents did the best they could in a difficult situation. Family size is a choice.  I can see how those children could feel resentful if they missed out on opportunities because of choices their parents made that caused the family's resources to be limited because of the family size. 

 

Well, as far as birth control, that isn't as simple for every person as one might think.  Of course a few people have religious objections to most/all kinds, but it isn't that uncommon for people to have religious objections to hormonal birth control and IUDs, which tend to be the most effective.  And quite a few people have concerns about both of those from a health perspective or can't use them effectively.  Which tends to leave barrier methods and NFP which are not bad but not as reliable and can require more discipline i use too.  About 50% of pregnancies in the US are unplanned and it is similar IIRC in Canada and the UK. 

 

I understand what you are getting at with your other comments, but I think also that it is very easy for people to keep raising the bar as far as what are the "basics" parents are supposed to provide.  Is it really a positive thing that our society has enough emphasis on everyone having new clothes that wearing hand me downs is going to be a significant bad memory?  Why is it that we now tend to assume that having extracurricular lessons is an important part of self-fulfillment?  Some people have only one child so they can focus all their attention and money on that child.  Do those children end up more fulfilled, more actualized?

 

I have a couple friends who had experiences like those described up-thread, visiting or living in really different cultures as young people.  I have always found their perspective on these questions was about the most grounded I have encountered - living where not only were bedrooms shared but most people did not have a bedroom, or where 13 kids and the parents shared one room in a two room house.

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I suspect that many of the only kids or 1-sibling kids in the next generation will sit around when they're our age complaining about their horribly overbearing "helicopter" moms. The type who get so wrapped up in building a "trophy" child to brag about via car stickers the way other people brag about completing a marathon or visiting a chi-chi resort town [insert eye-rolling smiley here]

 

I just had this discussion the other day with my oldest when she was complaining about having to wait around for an hour while her little sister did a preschool art class. I reminded her that if I didn't have her siblings to worry about, she would have 100% of my undivided attention to be Ms. Tiger Mom over. She shuddered at the thought, LOL!

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I've always wondered what these things are that families can't do because of babies or toddlers? I hear this said a lot but we just bring them everywhere. If anything I believe the younger ones have suffered from missed nap and bed times or having to spend hours at the football field etc. I can't think of a single thing that I didn't do because of little ones. Really we just live life and drag them along, for better or worse LOL

 

Ok I can think of one thing. I didn't go to all track/cross country meets for my oldest. He let us know which ones were the important ones and we went to those. Same with marching band competitions last year for my third. We took everyone to one and had the others babysit so dh and I could go to a couple others alone.

 

When my kids have performances we hire a babysitter. Little ones just don't appreciate sitting though concerts LOL and we don't want to miss it by having to take them out.

 

We went to 2 amusement parks last month. Strollers and taking turns worked great. We go on family trips. We just make it work.

 

I really don't think my older kids are missing out. They take turns watching littles when needed so I can run others around. But it comes back around for them. Before I had olders we just all went everywhere. It was exhausting and I know some moms who just won't do team sports or whatever because it's a pain in the rear but we just did it.

I was the oldest, and my mom had her last when I wa 17. So not only were there babies and toddlers but she was often pregnant. Also, my dad traveled often for his job, so he wasn't home to help do things.

 

We didn't do trips. Part of that was expense, because you have to get two motel rooms, etc. part of it was just the hassle of carting toddlers and babies everywhere.

 

No team sports because the schedule for three or four different kids would be impossible.

 

We were homeschooled and there were zero extra curricular activities in our small town available to homeschoolers. Thus any extracurriculars we did had to include more than one child, because there is just no way to transport that. I wound up taking piano lessons and singing in a choir just because three of us could do it at once. I have zero musical interest or talent.

 

We didn't do amusement parks. Partly expense, partly logistics. Maybe once a year if lucky.

 

Same for movies, museums, plays. They involved having to find babysitters available for the day and not everyone is able or willing to watch 5-6 small children.

 

A big deal to me was having all my kids close together. This way there is a lot we can do because they are all in the same stage at the same time as far as age appropriate activities.

 

My mom simply didn't have time to hang out with us one on one. Even though I work full time, my kids gets lots of one on one mommy time. It's a lot easier to divide myself 3 ways instead of 8.

 

Overall I have a lot more free time and money than my mom did. We can easily jump in the car and spend the day at the science museum if we want, or go see a movie at the mall, or just hang out somewhere. Getting 6-8 kids ready to go somewhere is a Herculean task. Some of this is certainly financial; we are a two income family and it goes farther with a family of 5 than a family of 10. A lot of it is simply logistical.

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I suspect that many of the only kids or 1-sibling kids in the next generation will sit around when they're our age complaining about their horribly overbearing "helicopter" moms. The type who get so wrapped up in building a "trophy" child to brag about via car stickers the way other people brag about completing a marathon or visiting a chi-chi resort town [insert eye-rolling smiley here]

 

I just had this discussion the other day with my oldest when she was complaining about having to wait around for an hour while her little sister did a preschool art class. I reminded her that if I didn't have her siblings to worry about, she would have 100% of my undivided attention to be Ms. Tiger Mom over. She shuddered at the thought, LOL!

Ok, so now that you've made such a snotty remark about only children and their helicopter moms, is it my turn to talk about moms of many?

 

Only I don't think about big families in cliches like that. So, I guess I can't return the favor.

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I

 

We didn't do amusement parks. Partly expense, partly logistics. Maybe once a year if lucky.

 

 

We did an amusement part every year or two when I was a teenager. I thought that was often.

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I would like to simply say, dh and I have so far limited ourselves to one child for multiple reasons, and none so crass as merely not enough cash to spare.

 

Also, not that I need to defend myself here, but I worked 60 hours last week, and finished up at 2 am this morning. Ds is currently at a game, which I am not attending. In fact, I might make 50% of his games in a season, maybe take him to a handful of his art classes, and hardly ever got to take him to French class. DH, who is a SAHD, does the majority of driving ds to and fro.

 

Since we only have one car (despite us being one of those monied, spoiled, small families), sometimes ds has to get rides to practices and games with friends. We have allowed many sleepovers from age 6 and up. We have permitted him to camp out with his cousins.

 

We constantly encourage him to venture out, as he is an introverted child.

 

But it's nice to know that other people can make character judgments on me based upon how many times my uterus has been occupied.

 

 

ETA: Oh, and I've never visited any resort town, chi chi or otherwise (WTH is that anyway). I got my nails done for the first time in years, at my first ever visit to a spa last month. Which was a gift from a friend. I haven't dyed my hair in years. The last family vacation we took was 5 years ago.

 

Yeah, I know, it's infuriating isn't it, the lavish lifestyle we parents of onlies lead. Haters gonna hate.

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I am asking my dh about this and he had this to say, which I find interesting as well.  (I'm paraphrasing a bit here...)

 

We used to scramble off the bus and fight our way to be the first in the door because Mom gave us all hugs and half a baguette as soon as we were home.  It wasn't that you wanted the first baguette out of the oven.  It was that you wanted the first hug.  It always felt like the longest one.   When everyone else left home but me, I had her all to myself and it was the best years of being her son.  We were all greedy, selfish little b******s for her.  If I'm bitter about anything, it's that she died too young.  Probably because we wore her out. 

 

 

FWIW, I am sure they didn't wear her out. Cancer did.  My dh is the only one who stayed on the farm.  I have heard about hugs and baguettes before, but not quite in that context.   I find these kinds of discussions fascinating -- mostly because they're so alien to my own experiences.  I'm anthropologically intrigued by differing family groups, too.  There's always so much to be found in the subtexts.

 

 

 

Such a touching statement and memory of his Mom.

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Well, as far as birth control, that isn't as simple for every person as one might think. Of course a few people have religious objections to most/all kinds, but it isn't that uncommon for people to have religious objections to hormonal birth control and IUDs, which tend to be the most effective. And quite a few people have concerns about both of those from a health perspective or can't use them effectively. Which tends to leave barrier methods and NFP which are not bad but not as reliable and can require more discipline i use too. About 50% of pregnancies in the US are unplanned and it is similar IIRC in Canada and the UK.

 

I understand what you are getting at with your other comments, but I think also that it is very easy for people to keep raising the bar as far as what are the "basics" parents are supposed to provide. Is it really a positive thing that our society has enough emphasis on everyone having new clothes that wearing hand me downs is going to be a significant bad memory? Why is it that we now tend to assume that having extracurricular lessons is an important part of self-fulfillment? Some people have only one child so they can focus all their attention and money on that child. Do those children end up more fulfilled, more actualized?

 

I have a couple friends who had experiences like those described up-thread, visiting or living in really different cultures as young people. I have always found their perspective on these questions was about the most grounded I have encountered - living where not only were bedrooms shared but most people did not have a bedroom, or where 13 kids and the parents shared one room in a two room house.

In general, wearing hand-me-downs will not be a significant bad memory. Children don't have a right to brand new or brand name clothes. However, if a family can only provide ill-fitting or out-of-date clothing, this could be a bad memory particularly as children get older. I actually don't find this to be a petty issue either for those that like to be stylish. Stylish doesn't have to cost a lot of money, but it takes some time, effort, and usually some money.

 

Children enrolled in school can receive many extracurricular there--music, sports, drama, language and so on. If someone chooses to homeschool, I think it's important to make that experience as well rounded as possible. I'm not sure what you mean about making kids self actualized. I think it's rather about providing opportunities to help kids find their niche, broaden their horizons, and well round their education.

 

I object to people referring to those that live in developing countries in cramped living conditions and compare that to us. They are living like this because those are the options they have. Thirteen people living in one room would be a nightmare to most of us. It's not normative or necessary to live like this in our country. Does each child need to have their own room? Of course not. If you have 13 people living in two rooms now are they going to grow up bitter? Most of them, I would guess.

 

Good parenting, ultimately, is being unselfish and doing what is in the best interest of the children and the family. Wanting to have another child may not be in the best interest of the family even if the mother really wants another baby. I just think it's responsible to consider everyone in the family before making the choice to have another child.

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Ok, so now that you've made such a snotty remark about only children and their helicopter moms, is it my turn to talk about moms of many?

 

Only I don't think about big families in cliches like that. So, I guess I can't return the favor.

 

The point I was trying to make is that complainers are always going to find SOMETHING to criticize about their upbringing.

 

I've been a mom of a single child and I cringe when I watch home videos of me when my oldest was a baby. I want to smack my younger self for being such an overbearing Type A "hoverer".

 

I'm a MUCH more "chill" mom of 3 and frankly, I think my kids are significantly better off as a result.

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Dh was the 2nd of 5 and he is slightly bitter, only because he felt like his parents just kept popping out kids with no forethought.  His mom even told me how much fun it all way, until it came time to care for so many kids, so young in age, so close together.  As a result, he often felt humiliated as he didn't have what he needed.  He says his toes stuck out of his shoes because they were worn and too small, and they didn't have money to get him another pair.  They only let him join in sports programs if he was awarded a grant for it, or is was free (understandably), but then they'd claim to be busy caring for all the youngers and never..he says NEVER ..came to a game, practice, championship.  When he wanted to try something musically, they laughed at him and told him he'd need to get a job.  All the while they would joke about, "oops...another kid!?".  He didn't think it was funny.  And, his siblings mistreated and ruined each other's things, and his parents didn't do anything about it.  He decided early on, when he was 18, he was gone.  And that's what he did.  

 

Unfortunately for me, he has shot to the other end of the spectrum and how WE treat his things are vitally important, so there are times when we are like, "We took good care of it" and he's like, "NO you didn't.  it sat out too long, or...you banged it around.." and...it was a lasting impact on him.  I think as an observer I think ultimately his parents selfishness is the problem, not the size of the family.  They could have run the family much more lovingly if they wanted to, but there was a point where they told the kids they were tired of parenting and then stopped disciplining, and started just laughing at all the complaints the kids had about each other.  I dont' blame him ..poor guy.  After having ONE kid, he was ALMOST finished building this family but I wasn't having it, so relented. HA!

 

I was the 2nd of 4 and I benefited from it but my parents were 'real' parents who stuck it out till the last one left. LOL  I was affected in the opposite way.  I don't notice lots of commotion and noise, I share and borrow without a problem, I'm not anal about belongings, (all in comparison to DH) but I also went into parenthood fully knowing I was only capable of caring for TWO kids the way I intended to.  But 3 would compromise some things that I saw compromised in my household as a kid.  My parents were great, but it was obvious they were stretched thin often and weary.  

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I am thankful my type A parents let me be a latchkey kid. I love roaming the city streets. My dad is a hoarder but he kept his "mess" in one part of the house so that I don't feel cluttered in. My dad is the helicopter parent but I was the hyper independent kid since I was born. My easy going only younger brother (8.5 years gap) however had to deal with the helicopter behavior.

 

I am thankful my high school head of science paid for new school shoes for kids whose parents couldn't afford or didn't bother to get them a decent pair of shoe. Her pay wasn't high either.

 

I am thankful for the wonderful library system where I grew up because there is where I escape to when my childhood home is too noisy. I could walk to the library or take a short bus ride.

 

Both hubby and my side of the family are majority free range parenting I guess since most of us are latchkey and took public transport alone early.

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The point I was trying to make is that complainers are always going to find SOMETHING to criticize about their upbringing.

 

I've been a mom of a single child and I cringe when I watch home videos of me when my oldest was a baby. I want to smack my younger self for being such an overbearing Type A "hoverer".

 

I'm a MUCH more "chill" mom of 3 and frankly, I think my kids are significantly better off as a result.

 

So you are a better mom of 3 than 1. It does not follow that I parent in the same way. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm still more laid back with my one child than you are with your three.

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So you are a better mom of 3 than 1. It does not follow that I parent in the same way. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm still more laid back with my one child than you are with your three.

 

Possibly, but it's been my observation that the typical mom of 3+ I know IRL is way more laissez-faire than the typical mom of 1 or 2. The question is not whether you personally are "helicopter" vs. "chill" as mom of an only, but rather whether there is a higher percentage of "helicopter" moms in small families vs. larger ones.

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Possibly, but it's been my observation that the typical mom of 3+ I know IRL is way more laissez-faire than the typical mom of 1 or 2. The question is not whether you personally are "helicopter" vs. "chill" as mom of an only, but rather whether there is a higher percentage of "helicopter" moms in small families vs. larger ones.

That's funny, considering how those of us with only 1 or 2 kids are so busy with our big corporate careers. Bringing in those power incomes, to fund our trips to resorts and other expensive destinations, requires long hours at the office.

 

But, we still have more time, apparently, to hover over our darlings.

 

Right this very moment, I'm at a family birthday party at a large arcade/ bowling alley/ laser tag/ karaoke venue.

 

My kid is running around here somewhere having a blast. I'm with the adults having a blast. My cousin, who has 9 kids, left to go watch her teens and older kids play games. I've barely seen her.

 

You shouldn't generalize. Or at the very least, don't make two conflicting generalizations. Really, it sounds to me you just don't like us small families because we're all inferior to bigger families. Because reasons.

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I am the baby of 9, but was only raised with 5.

 

 

I would say that  all of by siblings have things that we have done/will do different based on how our birth order affected us growing up.  

For one thing, one of my siblings has zero children,  two siblings have one child, and the rest all have 2 children.  None that I know of had fertility issues, almost everyone had kids relatively young and since I am the youngest and in my 40s I doubt there are any more on the way.  I think that does say something about the nature of living in a big family.  None of us, wanted to recreate the experience.

 

 

I, for one, vowed to have my children young.  I am not bitter about being born when my dad was 47, but since I was 21yo and  taking care of him in his late 60's (he died from cancer), it definitely hit home that there was more than one generation between us.  I was already caring for an aging parent, before I had my own kids.

 

It was also hard to hear all the stories when my siblings were young and my parents did things with them like camping and swimming.  Being the baby of a family, and especially since there is a six year gap before I came along, meant that my parents were tired, and the novelty of being  a parent was gone.  They didn't attend school events, they didn't teach me to swim or ride a bike, they didn't do those things that they did with my siblings.  I was purposefully raised to be independent. 

 

They also couldn't afford things when I grew up like the did with the older kids.  My dad was retired before I graduated high school.  Things that they had promised the older kids, like cars for high school graduation, they couldn't afford to for me.  

 

 

I have been very careful to keep things relatively fair between my older kids.  DD8 (my great niece) is in a different situation, since she also has bio-parents. I am not bitter, but it doesn't mean that disparity between my siblings and me, doesn't hurt on some level.

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In general, wearing hand-me-downs will not be a significant bad memory. Children don't have a right to brand new or brand name clothes. However, if a family can only provide ill-fitting or out-of-date clothing, this could be a bad memory particularly as children get older. I actually don't find this to be a petty issue either for those that like to be stylish. Stylish doesn't have to cost a lot of money, but it takes some time, effort, and usually some money.

 

Children enrolled in school can receive many extracurricular there--music, sports, drama, language and so on. If someone chooses to homeschool, I think it's important to make that experience as well rounded as possible. I'm not sure what you mean about making kids self actualized. I think it's rather about providing opportunities to help kids find their niche, broaden their horizons, and well round their education.

 

I object to people referring to those that live in developing countries in cramped living conditions and compare that to us. They are living like this because those are the options they have. Thirteen people living in one room would be a nightmare to most of us. It's not normative or necessary to live like this in our country. Does each child need to have their own room? Of course not. If you have 13 people living in two rooms now are they going to grow up bitter? Most of them, I would guess.

 

Good parenting, ultimately, is being unselfish and doing what is in the best interest of the children and the family. Wanting to have another child may not be in the best interest of the family even if the mother really wants another baby. I just think it's responsible to consider everyone in the family before making the choice to have another child.

 

I think your assumption that the family with 13 kids in a two room house - with whom my friend lived for a year as a teen - will mostly be bitter is my point, right along with the idea that people should be able to wear stylish clothes.  We live a pretty decadent lifestyle in the west.  Our expectations for what people need to be happy are pretty high and we take it so much for granted that we don't even see it.  What makes clothes stylish - that is in our culture a consumer driven artificiality that exists to make people buy things they don't need, which is why we have a fashion cycle of only a few years. 

 

The fact is that many people in places where people live radically different lifestyles are quite happy, and people who live in the west with so much wealth quite often are not.  There are basic things that are important to happiness, like health care and community.  But we've made child-rearing itself into a consumer activity, and that isn't something that will go away unless we can manage to get some perspective.  Totally apart from burdening people with all kinds of expectations, a lot of it isn't sustainable either.

 

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It seems like there is one type of resentment that is around people comparing themselves with what others have, either inside or outside their own family.   While sometimes differences can be some extreme it would be hard not to see them as a problem, generally speaking I think that kind of comparison is just a recipe for disaster - it's something people need to stop doing intentionally, and it can take some self-discipline.

 

There will always be differences, and sometimes it may feel a little unfair.  My youngest sister, who is my half sister, had a pretty radically different up-bringing than my other sister and I did.  Was that because she was my step-fathers natural daughter, because my parents had a lot more money by then, my mom wasn't working?  Maybe because they were a lot older and had mellowed out, or maybe that her personality was different?  Probably all of those things to some extent, and really that is just life.  Holding on to that stuff is just going to ensure that you become an unhappy person. 

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Parenting well is a heart issue, not a numbers game.

 

I agree that there is a certain personality type that would not be satisfied in a small family or a big family or a rich family or a poor family.....some people just can't be pleased.

 

We are all going to make parenting mistakes and choices we look back on and regret. That is human nature. Being an honest and emotionally available parent makes it more likely that our kids will forgive our shortcomings and move on with their lives without bitterness.

 

I have seen all sizes of families produce happy, enjoyable kids and I've seen all sizes of families crash and burn.

 

My husband is one of 8. He didn't have much stuff growing up, but he feels very grateful for the investments his parents made in him and for his close relationship with most of his siblings.

 

We have 5. They have quite a bit materially and in terms of art experiences and music lessons and nice vacations, but there are always friends who have more.

 

In my experience, having another baby does mean that there is less parental attention to go around. That can turn out fine, and yes each new baby means that there are more siblings to give attention, but it is pretty clear that there is less of the parents to go around.

 

On the other hand, I've seen parents with 1or 2 children be completely emotionally absent due to their commitment to their job or hobby or new love interest, so this is clearly not an problem that is exclusively in large families.

 

I know a family who not only take pride in the large number of children they have but also in those children's lack of material possessions. They feel so superior to those of us who really try to give our children the best start in life that we can.

 

I feel sorry for those kids. Not because there are so many of them in such a small space. Not because they wear hand-me-downs, but because the parents don't have the time or the inclination to parent them.

 

Love isn't buying stuff for your kid, or taking them on vacation. But when there is a conflict, love says,"Hey, you really hurt your sister's feelings. That was completely unacceptable. I need to to spend some time thinking about what you can do to make her feel better."

 

Love teaches kids how to behave in public and how to treat their friends so that they will be invited over again. Love teaches what kind of behavior is expected in the workplace, and if you homeschool, or use private or public schools, love ensures each kid gets the best educational foundation possible so that they have choices about what to pursue as an adult.

 

These are not lessons best taught by siblings.

 

So I'm happy for people who look at the work involved in raising a child and decide they just don't want to have children.

 

I'm happy for the people whose family is complete with just one child or two.

 

I'm happy for people, like me, who wanted a bigger family and were able to have one.

 

Let's just commit to doing our best with our own children, and being humble when we fall short.

 

Let's commit to helping the other families near us, and most of all, let's make a commitment to stop making assumptions about the number of kids someone else has.

 

Here are the questions I think are more important. Are the kids happy? Are the kids well-behaved? Are the kids getting an education?

 

If so, I think family sized ends up just being another matter of personal preference.

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Parenting well is a heart issue, not a numbers game.

 

I agree that there is a certain personality type that would not be satisfied in a small family or a big family or a rich family or a poor family.....some people just can't be pleased.

 

We are all going to make parenting mistakes and choices we look back on and regret. That is human nature. Being an honest and emotionally available parent makes it more likely that our kids will forgive our shortcomings and move on with their lives without bitterness.

 

I have seen all sizes of families produce happy, enjoyable kids and I've seen all sizes of families crash and burn.

 

My husband is one of 8. He didn't have much stuff growing up, but he feels very grateful for the investments his parents made in him and for his close relationship with most of his siblings.

 

We have 5. They have quite a bit materially and in terms of art experiences and music lessons and nice vacations, but there are always friends who have more.

 

In my experience, having another baby does mean that there is less parental attention to go around. That can turn out fine, and yes each new baby means that there are more siblings to give attention, but it is pretty clear that there is less of the parents to go around.

 

On the other hand, I've seen parents with 1or 2 children be completely emotionally absent due to their commitment to their job or hobby or new love interest, so this is clearly not an problem that is exclusively in large families.

 

I know a family who not only take pride in the large number of children they have but also in those children's lack of material possessions. They feel so superior to those of us who really try to give our children the best start in life that we can.

 

I feel sorry for those kids. Not because there are so many of them in such a small space. Not because they wear hand-me-downs, but because the parents don't have the time or the inclination to parent them.

 

Love isn't buying stuff for your kid, or taking them on vacation. But when there is a conflict, love says,"Hey, you really hurt your sister's feelings. That was completely unacceptable. I need to to spend some time thinking about what you can do to make her feel better."

 

Love teaches kids how to behave in public and how to treat their friends so that they will be invited over again. Love teaches what kind of behavior is expected in the workplace, and if you homeschool, or use private or public schools, love ensures each kid gets the best educational foundation possible so that they have choices about what to pursue as an adult.

 

These are not lessons best taught by siblings.

 

So I'm happy for people who look at the work involved in raising a child and decide they just don't want to have children.

 

I'm happy for the people whose family is complete with just one child or two.

 

I'm happy for people, like me, who wanted a bigger family and were able to have one.

 

Let's just commit to doing our best with our own children, and being humble when we fall short.

 

Let's commit to helping the other families near us, and most of all, let's make a commitment to stop making assumptions about the number of kids someone else has.

 

Here are the questions I think are more important. Are the kids happy? Are the kids well-behaved? Are the kids getting an education?

 

If so, I think family sized ends up just being another matter of personal preference.

 

This sums up my thoughts on the matter. Thank you, amy!

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I suspect that many of the only kids or 1-sibling kids in the next generation will sit around when they're our age complaining about their horribly overbearing "helicopter" moms. The type who get so wrapped up in building a "trophy" child to brag about via car stickers the way other people brag about completing a marathon or visiting a chi-chi resort town [insert eye-rolling smiley here]

 

I just had this discussion the other day with my oldest when she was complaining about having to wait around for an hour while her little sister did a preschool art class. I reminded her that if I didn't have her siblings to worry about, she would have 100% of my undivided attention to be Ms. Tiger Mom over. She shuddered at the thought, LOL!

 

That single/only children have helicopter moms is a generalisation which should die quickly. Believe me, I don't spend all my waking hours planning to build a 'trophy' child. :001_smile:.  Neither do many of my friends who have single/only children.

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I know the older children in two large families (12 kids or more) who are very bitter and frankly, I think with very good reason. In both cases, the oldest kids did a LOT of childcare and housework and were very burnt out by the time they were even mid teens.

It can really really suck to be the oldest, and a girl in a large family. I was bitter for years. I 'think' I've mostly let it go. I really think that having so many girls early on is the main reason the Dugger family works. If they had all those little boys first everyone would have starved and worn dirty clothes.

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Dh was one of six, I was one of four, and together we decided to have two. I think all of us have had awesome childhoods and lives because we all did what was best for us and made the most of it.

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I am asking my dh about this and he had this to say, which I find interesting as well. (I'm paraphrasing a bit here...)

 

We used to scramble off the bus and fight our way to be the first in the door because Mom gave us all hugs and half a baguette as soon as we were home. It wasn't that you wanted the first baguette out of the oven. It was that you wanted the first hug. It always felt like the longest one. When everyone else left home but me, I had her all to myself and it was the best years of being her son. We were all greedy, selfish little b******s for her. If I'm bitter about anything, it's that she died too young. Probably because we wore her out.

 

 

FWIW, I am sure they didn't wear her out. Cancer did. My dh is the only one who stayed on the farm. I have heard about hugs and baguettes before, but not quite in that context. I find these kinds of discussions fascinating -- mostly because they're so alien to my own experiences. I'm anthropologically intrigued by differing family groups, too. There's always so much to be found in the subtexts.

 

 

So sweet.

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It can really really suck to be the oldest, and a girl in a large family. I was bitter for years. I 'think' I've mostly let it go. I really think that having so many girls early on is the main reason the Dugger family works. If they had all those little boys first everyone would have starved and worn dirty clothes.

Is there anything your parents could have done to make it better? did you have too many responsibilities?

My oldest are boys, but I'm just curious.

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Is there anything your parents could have done to make it better? did you have too many responsibilities?

My oldest are boys, but I'm just curious.

This was the case for someone I know. She never had children because she did so much of the raising of her siblings. She dotes on her nieces and nephews, though. I guess she just needed a break from full time responsibility.

 

My experience has been 10+ down to one. We all made different decisions about how many children to have. 10+ to none. I agree that parenting is so much more than a numbers game.

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