I often see in the news that my generation does not want children, and I see this in my life when I reconnect with old school friends. I am definitely in the minority, being married with children. Of those who DO have children, it is rare to find a family with more than two.
I understand there are many reasons women and men have for putting off marriage, and for limiting family size. Most cite their education and career goals as being the priority. Many of them may end up having children later in their 30s, or even 40s as it becomes increasingly common.
But what about the idea that having more than 2 or (gasp) maybe 3 children, harms the children themselves?
“You won’t have enough time for each child!”
“It is too expensive, the kids miss out!”
“You can’t show enough love to each of them!”
“The older kids raise the younger ones!”
“The kids resent their siblings!”
I would like to address these common objections here with experience from my big-but-getting-bigger family of 6 (soon to be 7).
- We make time for each child. Sometimes that means scheduling a special mommy/daddy and me day with one child, alternating who it is. During the week, Daddy takes individual kids out for a walk around the neighborhood. They enjoy some time alone, getting all the attention for themselves. I rotate which child goes food shopping with me (they actually love this haha). Also, we homeschool! I spend a lot more time with my children than many parents do for that reason alone, even though I have more of them.
- I do not find babies or toddlers to be expensive, they don’t need much and since I have had children already we reuse many of the same items. When they get older and want to participate in activities, it can get costly but this is where we teach them how to think critically about what they want to do the most. This past year classes included dance,music, robotics, and cheerleading for part of the year. This coming year there will be dance, music, choir, cheerleading and STEM. This does NOT include the many free or low cost activities available, often at a steeper discount for siblings. We have a YMCA membership which allow us to swim, and take classes for a low fee or for free. We make serious use our local libraries, who always have fun and free classes for the kids. State parks are favorite as well, and we have some nature loving kiddos. Lastly, many of us homeschoolers get together and make our own fun for free.
- Of course we can show enough love for each of them! Our hearts expand with each child. I have a mommy sixth sense for which child needs some extra loving, and make sure to check in with them regularly. We foster trust and communication, so that they can come to us if they need anything, or feel left out. Not only does mommy and daddy give them love but they have the added benefit of many siblings who love them. The older kids adore the hugs and kisses from baby brother!
- The older children do NOT raise the younger ones. This accusation often comes when people don’t understand the dynamics of a large family. In order for a bigger family to keep the household running well, everyone pitches in. That includes chores, and helping with the little ones. That said, I feel it is a benefit to give children (including the littlest members) some responsibility. We love each other, and families help one another out. This is our home together, so we all chip in to keep it nice and help each member of the family. I would never give my older kids too much responsibility, and believe me, it is momma alone who is ultimately responsible and takes on the majority of the work. I do not delegate child-rearing to my other children, and much sure that nobody feels like they are being unfairly burdened. They love “babysitting” their baby brother, and enjoy helping him and their sisters.
- All siblings get on each others nerves sometimes, but we really make their relationships a priority. They are best friends, and when we take them out individually they always insist on bringing something back for their siblings. I was amazed at how they adored their baby brother, even my toddler followed their lead and never expressed much jealously (unlike when I had two children, and my oldest wanted to return her baby sister). I am expecting their newest sibling in January and they are all very excited to meet the baby, in fact, they keep hoping for TWINS.
So there you have it, I do not buy the what they naysayers are selling. Big families are often close, and homeschooling is something that I believe fosters even closer relationships between siblings (and parents). If your typically sized family is happy as it is, wonderful! But do not allow society to convince you against adding more if it is your hearts desire.
Children are a blessing and a heritage!