From the way our world talks about big families, you would think that having more than one child is the biggest mistake a woman could make.
Economists rave about the high cost of children - claiming one child can easily cost over $200K. On her Instagram story a few days ago, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez told us that we shouldn’t be having children since they contribute to global warming (ironic that a woman who advocates “choice” is comfortable telling the rest of women what to do with their bodies). And French President Emmanuel Macron condescendingly told us last year: “Present me the woman who decided, being perfectly educated, to have seven, eight, or nine children.”
Women who do decide to have large families face a tsunami of criticism and backlash. The media attempts to portray these mothers as woeful, washed up women with no confidence. Studies claim that mothers feel worthless after having lots of children, while others dramatically herald "the toll" that having children takes on mothers.
There is no denying the realities of postpartum depression or a mother’s struggle to lose the baby weight. Yet what AOC, Macron, and our media seem to miss (or desperately ignore) is the evident truth about big families.
Big Families Are Hugely Beneficial for Society
As the second of eleven children, I can firmly attest to the fact that big families multiply the joys and divide the sorrows. I have heard my fair share of negative comments towards big families, and yet I have also seen people gaze wide-eyed at my well-behaved siblings and ask my mother with admiration, “Are they all yours?” And as my siblings grow older and continue to excel in every way, I am proud to see them break the stereotypes that Macron or AOC might seek to cage them in.
The Benefits of Big Families
The benefits of being raised in a big family are enormous - starting with even the little things. Children in big families immediately learn that they must share. They quickly see that they must eat what is on the table - or there will literally be no food for them to eat. They must play well with others - or there will be no harmony at home.
Children in big families immediately learn that they must share.
The benefits are more long term than this, however.
Children in big families fight. And of course, it gets ugly. But they also learn how to effectively let each other know what they are displeased with and how to forgive one another and move on. This is a skill that our society is severely lacking in, and a skill that is as invaluable to siblings as adults. We see more and more that adults are unable to listen to other adults with different opinions - or that friends will simply choose not to communicate with other friends when they are angry or sad.
They also learn how to effectively let each other know what they are displeased with, and how to forgive one another and move on.
Let’s not forget that our society today - though we scream that we embrace tolerance - can't seem to tolerate difference of opinion. In big families, you interact with different personalities and perspectives all day long. What works for one sibling certainly may not work for another, whether it be personality, education, interests, attention, etc. As a child in a big family, you quickly realize you must be able to adapt to different personalities and frequently sacrifice your own needs or opinions in order to keep family peace.
Big families promote strong leaders. When Mom goes to the grocery store and leaves you in charge of the other kids, it’s sink or swim - you need to assume confidence and employ firmness in order to actually command authority and keep things running smoothly. When your older siblings graduate high school and leave the house for college, it’s your turn to step up to the plate and be a confident leader. When you are from a big family, this translates to every aspect of your life - school, extracurriculars, sports, and more.
People immediately think of how much work big families are, yet they don’t realize that in having lots of children, you are also birthing many babysitters, drivers, and helpers. Not only do children necessarily learn from an early age to help with chores (because let's face it, big families are messy), but they also learn that the family unit only works if everyone pulls their oar (my dad’s favorite saying). Thus, from an early age, children from big families are taught to be hardworking and industrious individuals.
Not only do children necessarily learn from an early age to help with chores, but they also learn that the family unit only works if everyone pulls their oar.
Mentors and Friends for Life
No parent wants to imagine their child alone in the world when they are gone. Big families never have to - their children grow up together, go out into the world, and raise their own families, but they will always have one another to depend upon. These siblings go from binky-buddies to babysitters to mentors to best friends. What better legacy to leave behind in the world than a loyal group of siblings to love one another and help one another in times of need?
From toxic masculinity, the #MeToo movement, corrupt politics, and the vast amount of sex scandals we hear about every day, it's abundantly clear that our culture is severely lacking in virtuous behavior. When parents in big families instill virtue in their children, the older ones can pass down their example of living out these virtues to the younger ones. Values ingrained in the older ones become the understood way of living to the younger ones - and basic virtues of empathy, responsibility, patience, creativity, industriousness, self-reliance, charity, temperance, and tolerance are recognized as the understood standard.
Basic virtues of empathy, responsibility, patience, creativity, industriousness, self-reliance, charity, temperance, and tolerance are recognized as the understood standard.
One of my favorite things about my family is our intense family loyalty. Beware of criticizing a big family to one of its members - they will not take this lightly. They have done too much loving, too much cooking, cleaning, fighting, working, and playing to let any outsider venture criticism on their family unit. Whatever happens to a child from a big family, they know that they have a whole army of supporters to back them up.
You’re probably still thinking….but big families are so much work. It is true - having many children is not easy and certainly requires hard work and sacrifice on both the parents’ and the siblings’ part. Yet it's also one of the most beautiful and powerful opportunities to be taken advantage of.
Big families show that it's much more fulfilling to be selfless than to be selfish. Don’t let the media, Macron, or AOC scare you away with their misunderstandings and misrepresentations of family life and motherhood - they're just plain wrong.