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in defense of large families

This is another one of those posts that has been on my mind for awhile. Truth be told, it has been sitting in my drafts folder for months and months. Something I have been wanting to say but am so afraid of being the cause of one of my wonderful readers feeling angry or hurt, especially since I recognize that family size is not always up to you, that ultimately it’s in God’s hands. This post is not directed at those struggling with infertility or other issues and truly have very little say in how many children they have. I’ve talked about family size before, I know what a sensitive topic it can be. I wholeheartedly believe just as I always have that how many children you do or do not decide to have is really nobody’s business but your own. There is no wrong or right. There is only what is right for you and your family.

 

In Defense of Large Families, family size

 

I once read a blog post where the writer shared their reasons for why having one child had so many benefits, and no drawbacks. I wish I could get into specifics but I was not able to find it again. I do seem to remember that it came from a blog that I typically really enjoy and love their content across all social media, so normally I’ve got nothing but love for them. One specific thing I do recall from this post was the statement that they were able to give their child “more” because they only had one.

That statement did not sit well with me.

I think what prompted me to finally write these thoughts down is that I more recently read another blog post celebrating the benefits of being an only child. Whereas I have no problem with the premise (I’m sure there are tons of benefits to being an only child, although I wouldn’t personally know since I’m not one myself), I did have an issue with several of the points that she made, including that being an only child would help you learn independence, give you an amazing imagination, and it would probably make you love reading. Again, this post came from another blog that I usually love reading and I don’t want the authors of these two blogs to think that I’m hating on them. I also recognize that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it does kind of rub me the wrong way when people try to force their opinions on others, or associate correlation with causation.

 

In Defense of Large Families, family size

 

I have a truth bomb to throw at you; two, actually.

If you have lots of children you’re missing out.

If you have one child you’re missing out.

Those are two truths, whether you want to accept it or not. There are pros and cons to a large family, just like there are pros and cons to being in the “one and done” club.  All that matters is that it works for you and your family. Let’s delve into this a little bit, shall we?

I grew up in a family of four girls. I now am a parent of four (almost five) children; so honestly, that is all I know.  A family of six is considerably larger than the average US household size of 2.54 (as of 2015). I hear those parents argue that they can give their children “more”, more time, more financially, just more. I suppose to some extent that’s true. It stands to reason that a family that has one or two children to raise will have more money to spend on trips, schooling, clothing, toys, electronics… I concede that smaller families may feel like they have more time to spend with their children on an individual basis.

I do think that as a stay-at-home mom to four children who are all so close in age there are some things I’m missing out on. Most of our vacations are trips to see family, which is fun but let’s face it, any parent will tell you that’s not a vacation. I’d love to take a trip to Europe, or even be able to afford to take my kids to Disney World. but have you priced out plane tickets for a family of six lately?! Not to mention activities, food, etc. I’d love to have new clothes, finish all our house projects, eat out more, get my nails done regularly, and a hundred other little things that most people think are normal but for me it’s hard to justify when Thing 1 needs new shoes and Thing 2 needs a new jacket. I don’t want to come across sounding like we’re destitute, by the way; we’re just on a budget. We plan and budget and save for things we consider to be “extras” and other people consider to be normal.

You know what though? That’s our season of life right now and it’s okay.

 

In Defense of Large Families, family size

 

I wouldn’t trade their relationship with each other. I wouldn’t trade our family tree with its sprawling branches because not only do they have each other, but they have a large network of aunts, uncles, and cousins. From the get-go they’ve learned to be individuals to stand apart from their siblings, and they’ve also learned to work together as a team to accomplish a goal (usually that goal involves something that drives me crazy, but hey, teamwork is teamwork, right?). They’ve learned to share, to be empathetic, to be thoughtful, to take turns, to rely on each other, to offer support, to serve, to sacrifice. Am I saying that your only child doesn’t possess these qualities? Absolutely not, because I recognize that correlation is different from causation.

I won’t sit here and argue that our way is better, or that larger families are happier. I won’t argue that by giving my children siblings I’ve given them more, because just because something is right for my family doesn’t mean that it’s right for yours. I’m simply asking that you recognize that no matter what you are missing out on something, it just depends on what you’re willing to miss out on.

37 Responses to in defense of large families

  1. Ayanna @ 21FlavorsofSplendor January 29, 2018 at 8:23 am #

    Very well said. It saddens me that you even have to defend large families. God blesses us with the families we have, regardless of the size, and we should look at them all as a blessing.

    • Justine @ Little Dove January 29, 2018 at 3:53 pm #

      So, so true, a family is a blessing no matter what size! Thank you for your sweet comment Ayanna!

  2. Kayla January 29, 2018 at 8:48 am #

    Couldn’t agree more. There are so many things in life where its just not physically possible to reap benefits of two entirely different situations. But both have positives and negatives. Always choosing what is best for you and your family is all you can do. 💗

  3. Jenn January 29, 2018 at 9:42 am #

    We have three and hope to someday have 4. Big families are the best!

    • Justine @ Little Dove January 29, 2018 at 3:51 pm #

      Congrats to you! And yes, there are definitely some pretty awesome moments in a big family!

  4. Courtney Buechle January 29, 2018 at 10:41 am #

    So true! I was an only child (not by my parents choice) and it could be so lonely. Everything you did you did by yourself or with your parents. Grated I am extremely fortunate to be so close to my mom and dad but there are so many more memories to be made with brothers and sisters and I have always found myself jealous of those who get that.

    • Justine @ Little Dove January 29, 2018 at 3:50 pm #

      Aww, thank you so much for your honest and thoughtful comment! I really appreciate that!

  5. Cristina - Memories of the Pacific January 29, 2018 at 11:12 am #

    You have a beautiful family! I’m an only child but my parents come from big families so I know all about both types of families and I think there are advantages and disadvantages for both.

    • Justine @ Little Dove January 29, 2018 at 3:49 pm #

      I definitely agree Cristina, there’s no right or wrong “magic” family number, only what’s right for you! And thank you so much for the sweet compliment!

  6. Jenny January 29, 2018 at 12:09 pm #

    You write so well, Justine. And yes, I think that’s completely right. Everything has its ups and downs – judging the right thing for you is the key.

    • Justine @ Little Dove January 29, 2018 at 3:48 pm #

      Thank you so much for reading Jenny and for the sweet compliment! And exactly, you just need to decide what is best for your own family and let the haters hate if they’re going to.

  7. Justine January 29, 2018 at 12:14 pm #

    I love this post. I am the oldest of 5 and if we were able to have children naturally, I would have wanted 5. There is something so beautiful about large families.

    There are struggles but I can’t imagine my life without these crazies. My siblings are my best friends and we had the best childhood. 🖤

    • Justine @ Little Dove January 29, 2018 at 3:47 pm #

      Aww, thank you so much for your support Justine! And I feel the same way, our life isn’t perfect but I can’t imagine our family without one of these little hooligans!

  8. Desiree January 29, 2018 at 12:42 pm #

    Justine! I could not love this post any more. I totally, 200% agree with you!
    Though we only have two kiddos, I would love more. However, right now, two is what is best for us.
    II’m often offended when someone mentions their family size (specifically number of children), and implies that their number is the best or right number.

    • Justine @ Little Dove January 29, 2018 at 3:46 pm #

      Yes Desiree, thank you so much for reading and commenting! I agree, it seems like you just can’t win, people with one think that’s right and people with eight think that’s right. How about whatever is right for your family??!

  9. Vicky January 29, 2018 at 12:58 pm #

    Very well said!! I grew up in a family of 8 but I knew I didn’t want such a large family myself. I really believe that family size is up to the individual family. Some people can handle 6 kids. Some just can’t. I have two kids and while sometimes I wish we had had a third our lives are already crazy as is. I don’t get to get my nails done on a regular basis either. So if you have two or almost five some of us just aren’t that lucky lol!

    • Justine @ Little Dove January 29, 2018 at 3:44 pm #

      Thanks so much for your comment Vicky! And yes, it should be up to the individual family and not what society thinks. It’s so frustrating to me that I feel judged so often when I go out with all my children, like I’m somehow affecting everyone else with our choice to have a large family!

  10. Whitney January 29, 2018 at 5:43 pm #

    Here, here friend! I grew up by myself and I was/am independent and a good reader BUT when my brother finally came when I was 10, a whole new world of love and friendship opened up for me. Having my own children is such a blessed gift and I would have more in a heartbeat.

  11. Danielle @ A Sprinkle of Joy January 29, 2018 at 6:51 pm #

    I love this so much! I’m an only child, and I was able to do a lot (like taking three different dance classes at once.. that’s lots of money). Things that I maybe wouldn’t have been able to do if there were more of me. And I love my parents, and understand why I’m just me (a scary labor and a difficult baby). But I knew that I wanted more than one. 🙂 I would actually love to have a huge family, but don’t think that’s in the books.

  12. Victoria January 29, 2018 at 8:27 pm #

    I love this! And my mother in law would love it even more! She had 16 littles and always said having a house full (usually about 10 little to teenage humans) was such a blessing. We are on number 2 now, and just love reading the pros of being open to life!

  13. Sarah January 29, 2018 at 8:36 pm #

    I come from a family with three kids, and my husband two, so we we grew up in small to medium sized families I guess? We knew we didn’t want to have just one child, and we didn’t want them to be too far apart in age either. We haven’t decided if we’re done or not with two boys. I would love to adopt one day, even if we choose to not have any more kids biologically.

  14. Christine January 30, 2018 at 7:49 am #

    I love large families and always hoped to have one myself. It hasn’t worked out that way but I love the feeling of a large family support group. Such a great way to learn about interacting with and caring for each other!

  15. Mama Luana January 30, 2018 at 2:27 pm #

    Well said! I think some people just get defensive about it, as if stating their own viewpoint with aggressivity would shield them from being forced by others to change direction (I know, it’s irrational; it happens to me sometimes, too, for other things). Some, however, do it out of malice and judge just because they feel superior. I’m generally forgiving to the former and a little less forgiving to the latter. Family size is such a personal thing, it varies from family to family, and different situations influence it, too (I have more than a dozen spiritual children and I’m hoping to have at least one biological child, or adopt if PCOS doesn’t allow me to have babies). I think your post wouldn’t offend anybody, dear, because it’s super kind and filled with compassion. God bless. 🙂

    – Luana

  16. Megan January 30, 2018 at 6:42 pm #

    I am one of 5 kids and my husband is one of 8. We love big families! At the same time, I appreciate your comment that there are pros and cons for all sizes of families. I think at the end of the day, the important thing is to have a LOVING family. If you’ve got that, you’re golden…no matter the size. 🙂

  17. Carmela January 30, 2018 at 7:31 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this post! I have four kids, soon to be five, as well. I grew up in a family of 6 kids. I am very tired at the end of every day, and sometimes by lunchtime!, but my heart is full, and I know that I am so blessed to have each individual child in my life, each is so unique and I couldn’t imagine our family, or my life, without them. I’m so grateful for each of my brothers and sisters as well and the memories we have and continue to make together.

  18. Emma @ Muddy Boots and Diamonds January 31, 2018 at 8:36 am #

    Agreed! No matter what you do, you’re missing out on *something*. I always wanted a big family (5 kids!) but that just isn’t going to happen. At the end of the day the most important thing is that everyone is loved.

  19. Holly Lasha January 31, 2018 at 9:28 am #

    Love this! Your pictures are adorable also!!

  20. Ashley Solberg January 31, 2018 at 11:07 am #

    Your heart and ability to see each side is so wonderful! I have a more the merrier take hehe, but I can see how for some that is not right for their family and I will love them all the same and it’s what makes each family unique!

  21. Stefanie January 31, 2018 at 11:08 am #

    The important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way. Exactly as you said, there are pros and cons to every side of the story. It’s what works for YOU. I will say that I, personally, would rather have my children learn the importance of family togetherness than focus more on things, so I’m happy with my big family!

  22. Camesha | Mama Motivator January 31, 2018 at 12:16 pm #

    I think you’re right. There are definite benefits to both! As an only child, I was determined to have more than one child (we have 2). Had I continued to work outside the home or started our family earlier, my goal was to have 4. We all just have to figure out and do what’s best for us. 🙂

  23. 1stopmom January 31, 2018 at 1:55 pm #

    We have a family of four children. It turned out to be the perfect size for us. I never really think about why others decide to have less or more children. Those choices are their own.

  24. Joanna Clute January 31, 2018 at 9:06 pm #

    I truly love your outlook. There are pros and cons to every choice when it comes to family size and I love that you don’t just see your family size as the only way to go. Refreshing post!

  25. Shani | Sunshine & Munchkins February 1, 2018 at 8:41 am #

    I love this post Justine! I come from a family of three girls, plus one adopted, plus step-siblings. Sometimes it wasn’t ideal (like sharing the bathroom) but I wouldn’t change it for anything. You really have to just do what you feel is best for your family because you only know yourself (and your spouse) and it’s not up to us to judge why other people choose to have a larger or smaller family. And also, thank you for pointing out the whole correlation does not equal causation! As a marriage and family studies major, that was drilled into my head so much I think I’ll take it to the grave, haha. 😉

  26. Katie February 3, 2018 at 3:33 pm #

    Agreed! I’m one of nine children, and my husband is one of seven, and we both want 5 ourselves. Yet people still gasp in horror when we tell them!

    All of my husbands friends are one and done, but I couldn’t imagine not having either of my two (or third, due in 9 weeks :3)

    We have so much fun watching them play together, and despite not having many fancy things in childhood, I wouldn’t trade my big family, or my husband’s family for anything. My girls have 17 uncles and aunts 🙂 and we all love it.

    But, my mother with her nine would always count them and say there was one missing until she had nine, and then she felt complete, and I’m sure some people can feel that way after one. None of my bussiness, I just wish I wasn’t met with so much horror and “that’s hard work you know?”

    Yes complete stranger at the grocery store. I know… 😛

  27. samantha February 13, 2018 at 6:50 am #

    LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! We have 4 kids, and when I got pregnant with the 4th, I was almost 3 months along before I even went to my doc, I was just so worried about how everyone would look at us, having a 4th child. (my doc was great and never said anything). My husband comes from a family of 4 kids, and his oldest brother has a family of 4 kids (his other siblings have just 1 and 2 children). I come from a family of 2 kids.

    It’s nice to see someone celebrating a large family, instead of emphasizing the drawbacks: like trying to leave the house with 4 kids. The Pre-K teacher has commented multiple times on how well adjusted my kids are in the classroom, she said you can tell they have siblings, cause they don’t see the sharing issues with them, that they see with a lot of the kids who are only children.

  28. Tiffany Barry February 16, 2018 at 11:22 pm #

    I love how you phrase this. You’re missing out either way. It’s so unbelievably true. I think about that often… about whether it was the right decision to have 3 kids instead of have just Lily. Mostly I think about it when the days are long and hard and I’ve barely slept. Thanks for helping me continue to stay grateful for my beautiful children even on the hard days. For us, having 1 just wouldn’t feel complete, and I’m so glad we have the family size we do.

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