What comes to mind on what it means to have a large family?
The noise. The chaos. The rush. The challenges.
Are there benefits of being in a large family and is there some disadvantages. Of course every family no matter what size is met with difficulties. Any size of family brings its own joys and often hardships.
I myself come from a family with five children being the only girl and the youngest. My parents also came from big families: five and six children. It is without saying any person in my family has something to say on this subject.
So what are the benefits?
The noise. Well that’s what some outsiders might call it. That means sometimes quiet can be loud. When we were younger we had to share. There was no “Mum I am bored.” You could always rely on someone to keep you entertained. That and you wouldn’t dare to say it in front of Mum as she would get you doing a chore!
Independence. Knowing to do such simple things, like cleaning, cooking, vacuuming and washing. We all learnt this from a very young age. With both working parents there had to be an even load of weight. I always did find it strange to hear from friend or even on television shows when people didn’t know how to work simple functions as how to work a washing machine. This structure gave us all the kick to get out and earn some sort of income no matter how good the wage was.
There is an age gap. Twelve years between my eldest brother and me. Being surrounded by many people you gain social skills. I find it easy to talk to people – older people perhaps more. One quality I see in my eldest sibling is that he stepped into a parental role for me and most likely why he is such a good parent today to his daughter. No matter what it’s nice to know that someone will always have your back. It doesn’t matter I think where in the age order you are that you learn the fundamental personality traits of being caring, selfless and kind.
All of my brothers are my best friends. Even to this day the bonds with my siblings have persisted and perhaps have grown stronger. Just because there is lots of us does not mean that you can’t be closer. Does it?
credit photo source: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/savor-family-moments
With benefits, there come disadvantages…
Large families face a trial over money and time.
Researchers from the University of Houston and the London School of Economics evaluated 26 years of data for the National Bureau of Economic Research. They discovered cognitive abilities are affected in larger families. The birth of another child lowered the overall amount of education that each child would receive. For each additional child born, the average amount of education the children in the family received fell by 13 years.
Do younger siblings miss out? Do parents get tired of the same thing? In my opinion there is some truth to this element, but not of parents getting tired of the same repetitive life. The challenge of time is what parents face with large families. The youngest of the fold may find they don’t get the opportunities as their elder siblings. Whether this is from lack of learning which would come from different social activities. Or because adults were unable to spend time with them to teach them what was needed at home.
According to The Washington Post adults from large families tended to have lower levels of education, lower earnings, and more criminal behaviour.
Whilst parents from large families might tend to have lower education I believe this becomes more of an incentive and motive that they push for their children to have better education than them. My parents’ have done all they could to back us in our education through to University.
The researchers from Washington Post attributed their findings to the decreased parental involvement. Their study showed as family size increased, parents spent less time with children, reading fewer books to them and have fewer family meals.
In our household we always had dinner at the table together as family. In the evenings my father would read to me or my second oldest brother, often with illustrations by casting a shadow illustration with his hands often to Michael Morpurgo.
However, sometimes I found life in a large family could become too chaotic. Sometimes it was difficult to get involved in a conversation at dinner and could sometimes feel like you were isolated.
One thing I did notice that compared to my friends families is the sheer amount of hand-me-downs we all went through. Not often would we buy something brand new if it didn’t need to be. While lack of privacy was a big issue and when you needed to get peace and quiet to revise for an exam was particularly difficult sometimes.
How about the effect on parents. Many children being part of sporting events, music or clubs etc. amounts to a busy schedule. They can become so busy that they can become just a taxi service.
I guess there is a question. What does everyone think on large families, do the benefits out-weigh the disadvantages?