Country Living Series

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The blessings of large families

When I was growing up with my three brothers, our family of four kids was considered a bit unusual because it was so "large." Most people had three or fewer kids in their families.

But now we live in an area where many people, for a variety of reasons, have very large families. Six, seven, eight, even ten or eleven kids isn't unusual. Since we have "just" two children, we're once again considered a bit unusual.

Last night we had some friends over for dinner. These folks have five children ranging in age from three to thirteen, and the wife has a baby due one month from today (I can't wait to cuddle a newborn!). We had an absolutely delightful time.

Before our guests came over, we pulled down all the toys the girls played with when they were younger. Blocks, trains, Hotwheels, dolls, Legos... the boxes of toys were poised and waiting for the onslaught of activity.


It didn't take long for the younger kids to unpack everything and set up their imaginary worlds. While the adults visited, the kids were thoroughly occupied. And I mean thoroughly -- we hardly heard a peep from them for hours.


This old truck -- dating from my childhood -- was a particular favorite. They don't make toys like they used to.


The nice thing about large families is by the time the sixth or seventh or eighth kid comes along, the parents are usually experts on childraising. They no longer have to figure things out as they go along, as Don and I did. They know it all already. They know how to keep calm, to keep order, when to be lenient and when to be strict. Our friends (Jack and Natalie) are the epitome of excellent parents for large families: calm, patient, strict, disciplined... did I already say calm?

And large families, almost to a T, consist of wonderful kids. I don't believe I've ever met a child from a large family who was rude or inconsiderate or disrespectful or spoiled. With so many people in one house, children grow up learning to share, minimize squabbles, help each other, and otherwise get along.


That's why it was so much fun having all these kids over last night. For a few hours, our home was a place of happy chaos. Kids everywhere, playing with toys that hadn't been played with for a long time. And at the end of the evening, all the children pitched in and re-boxed all the toys and left our living room tidy and ordered.

Don and I are getting closer to that time of life when our children are thinking about leaving the nest. Older Daughter will be departing for nanny school in about two years. Younger Daughter is 14 and fast approaching young adulthood. Our days of tiny children being constantly underfoot are over, until we're blessed with grandchildren.

It's a pity, in a way. And that's why we like having large families come and visit.

16 comments:

  1. We were also considered a large family of four girls. Then six years later my mom and dad had another baby girl, then within the next 2.5 years, my two youngest siblings were born, 2 boys. So then our family of 7 was awe inspiring in our community. We always got comments about how polite and nice and well behaved we were.
    My husband and I only had a girl and a boy, wanted more but it just never happened. Our daughter left for college/trade school and had to share a bedroom for the first time in her life, at least since she was 2 years old and the new baby boy borrowed the crib in the corner of her bedroom!

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  2. Patrice,
    My wife and I are in the same boat. Our two girls went off to college a few years ago and are now living in major cities. We homeschool our girls in the country and I hoped they would stay in Kansas but it wasn't to be. I too enjoy visiting families with small children as they remind me of my growing family. You never know what God has planned for you (hopefully some grandchildren soon). Enjoy those sweet young ladies but be prepared to let them go.
    Greg

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  3. Patrice,

    First off, your blog is great. Love reading about your experiences and thoughts. This newest post was right up my alley too. We have 6 kids (13 yrs old down to 1 yr old) and its CRAZY! I do mean that in the best possible way. We didn't exactly plan on having a large family, but it was God's plan for us, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Our house is loud, messy(at times), super busy and often seems too small, but it's packed full of amazing little people who continue to surprise us as they grow.

    I know one day they will be grown and leaving the nest. Hopefully they will love the "chaos" that was their childhood and will remain a close family even they live apart.

    Patrice, your kids sound like they will be a great addition to this world as young adults!

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  4. Patrice,

    First off, your blog is great. Love reading about your experiences and thoughts. This newest post was right up my alley too. We have 6 kids (13 yrs old down to 1 yr old) and its CRAZY! I do mean that in the best possible way. We didn't exactly plan on having a large family, but it was God's plan for us, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Our house is loud, messy(at times), super busy and often seems too small, but it's packed full of amazing little people who continue to surprise us as they grow.

    I know one day they will be grown and leaving the nest. Hopefully they will love the "chaos" that was their childhood and will remain a close family even they live apart.

    Patrice, your kids sound like they will be a great addition to this world as young adults!

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  5. I grew up in a small town in Michigan. I had five brothers myself. :o) I was the second oldest, so I did a lot of babysitting.
    The family down the road from us had 11 children. And everyone one of them was as polite as you talk about.

    Have a blessed week!

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  6. We have five children and while living in Virginia (Greater Washington DC area) we were stared at wherever we went as we had the biggest family people had seen. In 2002 we moved to Provo, Utah and for the first time fit right in and were considered so normal that nobody looked twice at us. It was a nice feeling. My mom came from a family of 15 children, my father had just one sister. Together they had five which my mother considered small and my father considered huge! All a matter of perspective. My husband and I love "big" families and if we'd met and married at 20 instead of 30 we'd probably have ten children. Thanks for sharing, we look forward to grandchildren too.

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  7. We have a large family (10 kids) and I think that it's great that you invited them over for dinner. It seems like after we had five kids other people stopped inviting us over. I think maybe it was overwhelming to them to think of feeding so many people, or making room for all of us, so it makes me happy that you did that for another large family. I'm sure that it meant a lot to them!

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  8. I agree that large families are more balanced. I know of more than one family where there is an only child. One in particular went off to college and had a very hard time adjusting. Coming from a home where he was the world in his home and had pretty much all the attention. Now he has to learn to share as well as learn to live with a roommate. The first year was very rough for him. He still seems to be very socially stunted in dealing with people.

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  9. I read your post and position on GED graduates. I am a teacher with MA and a GED teacher. So many of my students dropped out of school because of parents and schools. They were not "drop outs" in the sense of failing students, problem students. One young man dropped out the last week of senior year, "A" student. His mother was dying and he refused to go to school for exams and stayed by her side. The school refused to allow him to take the exam later than everyone else. His father tried unsuccessfully to get some sort of resolution with the school. Ten years later, the boy came to me and easily passed the test almost immediately. He could have passed the day he came to class, but he wanted to work through all the math books to assure he made a good grade.

    The principal came to one student and asked him when he was going to drop out since he just had a birthday!

    One parent told me that she did not have a GED, so her son did not need one either.

    As for the math, schools regularly graduate students with only a rudimentary knowledge of math.

    After a rape and the subsequent pregnancy, one girl was kicked out of school.

    I could write a book. Look up GED grads on the internet. Politicians and others earned a GED.

    I think working in a daycare would be beneficial for your daughter so she could see the range of behavior in children. They are not all angels. And, she will be able to see parent/child interactions that are appalling or healthy.

    At the ripe old age of 60, I was employed in a nanny position for a summer by a friend who was rearing grandchildren and had no idea how to deal with a child. She had adopted older children.

    My friend's daughter was a nanny for four years when she was in college before med school. The fact that she was going to college landed her the job. That is what professionals wanted, right or wrong. Successful people with college educations do not want to hear the nanny is against college educations.

    Have her learn ASL and she will be in demand.

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  10. We also have five children. I always laugh when people say that children in large families don't get enough attention because there are so many of them. My children get more attention than many families with only one or two children but a mother who is at work from 8-5 every day.

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  11. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)February 18, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    We are lucky - our neighbors let us 'borrow' their grandchildren for a few hours every weekend. We do look forward to having the little ones around as they are a total delight!

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  12. Yes I agree its soo blessing that it made my childhood sooo wonderful I have 4 brothers and 3 sisters and they are wonderful. We enjoyed our childhood when were young and did wonderful things together and I love them all.

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  13. Thanks for your kind words about large families. We know a few and have found what you say to be true. As the mother of 6 so far, ages 10 down to 3 months, I can say with confidence that the more children we have, the greater the blessings. The love and benefits of children multiplies exponentially with each new baby we bring home. The lessons we all learn from each other are invaluable, and will benefit us all for life. And nothing keeps us as parents accountable to the Lord like 6 pairs of eyes and ears around us almost constantly. Some days are great, some days are hard, but LIFE is good. I have to say, though, that any number of children in a God honoring family warms my heart and gives me joy. Also, homeschooling with a small farm is worth every hardship. Life lessons that would never be learned in public school.

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  14. My wife and I have one child, but our daughter is only four months old. We'll try for the next one two years or so. I can't speak to the pluses or minuses of large families, except that only children are weird and never socialize correctly.

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  15. I'm the oldest of four boys. When my nephew (from my youngest brother)exclaimed to me - "Uncle Steve, you sure are weird!" (in a good way!). I told him that because I was first, that made me the experiment, so all the tricks that didn't work on me were never repeated for my younger brothers! Well... that's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it.

    Steve Davis
    Anchorage, Alaska

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  16. I was really searching for some encouragement tonight, as some days with lots of kids are just plain hard. Thank you for reminding me of all the positive aspects of large families. I couldn't agree more! My husband and I also joke that when ALL 6 kids (10 and under) lose their cool/cry, we (the parents) get to eat cake! We're better parents when we can handle situations in a calm way. Eating cake takes the edge off all massive meltdowns...at least for us! :)

    Sarah
    Rural Michigan

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