How big is too big for a family?

I was at the Doctor’s office the other day and I saw an article about a family who had 14 (unadopted children).

I thought it was interesting and wanted to hear other’s thoughts on the subject.

What are your opinions on large families?
What, in your opinion, constitutes a large family?

I will probably get flamed for this but…

I believe that you have too many children if you can’t provide necessities for them. By necessities I mean: new clothing, healthful food, space and privacy, and love.

I don’t mean that if you run into a little hard luck and can’t feed your children anything but mac and cheese for a while that you have too many children. Things like that can happen easily – a divorce, a layoff or a death of a parent can hurt a family financially.

But if you are thinking about having another child and can’t afford anything for that child, don’t have it! If you have so many kids you can’t give each kid an hour of your time a week, what kind of life are you providing? If you can’t afford to buy fresh fruit and vegetables and meat, don’t think your child can exist entirely on air and love, because they can’t!

My sister and brother are both in situations where they cannot afford to have another child. Neither can hold a job, neither live in a permanent place, and they still borrow money from my parents when they need to. They still want more children, because they are morons. Yes I said morons.

I think it’s sad that in America you can’t even raise the issue of reproductive limitations. You can’t tell a man who has fifty children, all destitute and from single mothers, that he is going to have to go through sterilization. Reproduction is a right here, and I don’t necessarily think it should be!

Flame away. It’s kind of cold here in the library anyway.

I have 6 kids, one is in heaven already. I would have more, but we’re getting older and our home is small.
It is not easy raising children, but money is not as big an issue if you make sacrifices and be wise.
If parents are dedicated and loving, they should fill the world with kids.

Wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who said, “One child is not enough… but two are far too many!” :slight_smile:

My parents, when asked if they planned to have more children, said “Why? Kids only come in two types, and we already have one of each.”

4 children.

I feel in this day and age in the USA that a couple should have no more than two children, the amount to replace the parents.

Having more than 4 children is irresponsible. Why? Because there are 6 billion people on this planet, and within 100 years, the planet will have over 10 billion. We need to start thinking about population control, such as reliable birth control which is cheap and effective.

Secondly, I have an aunt who had 7 children. Two are now dead (one from a car accident and the other from disease). The more children someone has increases the liklihood that one of the children will die, which adds to the heartbreak of living.

I’m almost positive your logic is flawed there, crazy grady. However, I’m not up to parsing it together this minute.

I don’t care how many kids anyone has, if they’re all reasonably provided for. I did a mental “tsk-tsk” at one family I know that had six children under the age of seven, but only because when I asked the momma how she fit car seats for all those babies into her van, she replied, “Oh, hell, they don’t all REALLY need to be in car seats.”

I think it mostly depends on income.

I know a family with 10 kids (on purpose). They make about 60k a year. I have no idea how they are getting by. (I think one or two have moved out by now, but still.) Also, who can make adequate time for 10 children? I’m sure the mother is doing the best she can, but there’s no way she’s having quality OR quantity time with each of her kids. She’s probably spending all of her time cooking and cleaning and making sure the kids don’t kill each other! Forget one-on-one readings of “Love you Forever,” it’s more like storytime with Mommy and 4 kids!

In every big family I’ve seen, the oldest kids end up raising their siblings (just my experience, I’m not saying that’s how it is in EVERY big family). I’m all for chores and responsibilities and stuff for kids, but I don’t think parenting 5 other kids when you’re 10 years old is fair to do to a child.

And since you asked, my definition of a “big family” is 3 kids or more.

Well, I come from a family of six children so it takes a pretty good sized family to make me go “whoah!”. I think a lot of it depends on the age spread between the children too. A family with six kids under 10 seems a lot bigger than a family with a couple teens, a couple tweens, and a couple little ones.

I do agree with what SnoopyFan said above about raising my siblings. I was second oldest–the four beneath me were 5, 8, and 13 years younger than me and I put in a LOT of time helping out around the house with them. At the time, I resented it a lot. But now that we’re mostly all grown I’m glad that my family is so close and still very involved in each other’s lives.

And crazy g, considering that the number of American women who are going through life childless is at an all time high, those of us who do breed are going to have to have a lot more than two a piece to maintain a replacement-level birthrate.
Myself, I have two sons. I’m happy with my family size and overwhelmed enough that a third seems insane at this point. However, should I find myself remarried someday I would like to try one last time to have a daughter. Any more than three, I feel, would put me in a place where I would have to make more sacrifices than I am comfortable with.

Too big is more than you can care for. For some people I know, one child is too many. Had it been possible, I’d have liked 3 or 4. Still, with only one, we’ve been able to do more things and give her more advantages than would have been possible with a bigger brood.

When you come right down to it, this is a very personal question and very much dependent upon the family involved. I wouldn’t want to declare that “X” number of children should be the standard.

My only opinion on this is that people shouldn’t just have one child. In my experience, it’s lonely. :frowning:

I’ve no intention of flaming you. But this is the one statement you made that I take issue with. Why do the clothes have to be new? My kids, especially my youngest, who is three, get lots of hand-me-downs (from friends, etc.), and yes, we shop pretty often at thrift stores. Usually what we do is go through the second-hand stuff each season, and see what we need to buy new to fill in. My kids don’t look like ragamuffins; they are well-dressed. But after all, even if you buy a shirt brand-new, after a kid has worn it once, it’s used. My kids (three girls, ages 16, 12 and 3), have a home, plenty of nutritious food, love from their father an I as well as each other, a father that works hard to provide these things, and plenty of undivided attention from me, a SAHM. With all this, I fail to see why it’s important that all their clothes be new.

I knew that would be the one thing people would take issue with! I thought about this long and hard before I added it to my necessities. I knew someone would pipe up and provide personal experiences. Let me provide you with my personal experience.

My mother was from a family of six. Her parents did not have enough money to buy new clothes. They didn’t have enough money to provide toilet paper and soap – and they didn’t care to, either. She grew up wearing clothes bought entirely from thrift stores and it caused severe emotional scars. She still tells stories about how scared she was that someone in her class at school would walk up to her and say, “Nice coat. I owned one just like it before we gave it to GoodWill. Where’d you get it?”

Maybe I should amend that a little – If you can ONLY afford clothing from thrift store (and it doesn’t sound like it in your case), then you can’t afford the other good things that children need.

See, I don’t know quite what to think in regards to a big family.

On one hand, I think it’s a bit socially irresponsible to have so many children in this day and age. I also wonder if it wouldn’t be better to have less children… the smaller the family, the bigger piece of the pie every one gets.

On the other hand, as long as the children are loved and well cared for, it’s none of my business. I mean, who am I to place judgement on someone?
As a personal decision, I can’t imagine having more than two kids. The flip side to that of course, is that if my parents had felt that way, I would not be here.
For those with large families, if you don’t mind my asking, I have some questions I am curious about.

what is the appeal of having so many children?
How many would you have if money/space/age were not an object?
Would it matter if the children are not yours biologically?

I actually agree with crazy grady – having more than two is somewhat irresponsible from a global perspective. Its an opinion I share with my parents, who got sterilized after two despite that they would have liked to have more. They did not think it was ethical.

The population WILL continue to grow even if every couple had two children (China’s population grew even with the 1-child policy) but it will grow slower.

I just think it’s a responsible choice for the health of the planet to limit reproduction.

Flame away.

A family is too big if they can not provide for the kids and give them attention. This also applies to people who are too young to have kids as well. By too young, I mean that they are still in school and working the part time job at the fast food joint and typical other teenage jobs that deal with earning minimum wage.

In most of the families I have seen with three or more kids the middle kid gets “middle child syndrome” where they often feel completely left out of everything whether it is true or not. So generally, my opinion is that more than two children are too many simply for this reason. This can be worked around easily though if the children have wide gaps in ages.

A family is too big if they can not provide for the kids and give them attention. This also applies to people who are too young to have kids as well. By too young, I mean that they are still in school and working the part time job at the fast food joint and typical other teenage jobs that deal with earning minimum wage.

In most of the families I have seen with three or more kids the middle kid gets “middle child syndrome” where they often feel completely left out of everything whether it is true or not. So generally, my opinion is that more than two children are too many simply for this reason. This can be worked around easily though if the children have wide gaps in ages.

I personally think there are a lot of people out there who think they’re doing just great with big families when that’s not true. I knew a woman online who I can only classify as being a moron. She was all about the babies. And yet, she couldn’t fit all her kids in her car and with all those kids in the family couldn’t afford a bigger one. She would bitch, moan, whine and complain about the neighborhood, but couldn’t afford to improve her lot there because there were too many kids in her family. She couldn’t even put her grocery cart in the corral because she had too many little ones with her and was afraid someone would kidnap them, but there were too many to bring them from the car to the corral without the cart to bring them back to the car. And yet, she would have liked even more kids! She had too many kids. And guess how many it was - only 4!

I do not have a large family of my own, although I am the eldest of nine children (counting steps and half-siblings). I can provide the view of a friend of mine, though, who doesn’t participate on these boards. She is 36, her husband is 52. Since she was a little girl, this friend (I’ll call her Becky) has wanted to be a mommy and nothing else. She had her first child at 19 (he is not the biological son of her husband - he married her when she was several months pregnant.) She and her husband then had two more children, and during her last pregnancy she had some complications that rendered her unable to have more. Through her church, she got involved in foster parenting, and has in the last ten years fostered more than 25 children, including several sets of siblings that would otherwise be separated and a bunch of physically and developmentally disabled children. Of her foster kids, she and her husband have adopted three boys (two of mixed race, one with cerebral palsy.) ALL of her kids - whether she has them “for keeps” or is fostering them temporarily - are enrolled in Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts (and she is the Girl Scout leader, so she is not dumping kids into these activities for the free babysitting), are taken to church every Sunday and attend Sunday school, attend dance and/or sports and are well-fed, well-clothed and loved. Her school-age kids are honor students and award winners in various sports and dance thingies. Yes, she receives various stipends and support from the state to care for her non-biological children, and her husband has a decent-paying job. Both he and Becky are incredibly patient and very loving people, and they are of one mind where the children are concerned. I have NEVER seen Becky or her husband lose their tempers or approach any of their children’s issues with anything but care, concern, and a generous dollop of good humor. Her children - all of them - take care of one another and have reasonable chores for their age.

I am not personally a fan of large groups of children - I don’t have that kind of patience - but Becky’s family has always been a pleasure to be around, no matter how many of them there happen to be at any given time. Becky is sensible, practical and kind and has dedicated her entire life to her children, and she has the support of her husband and her church. Everything she does revolves around her kids and that is all she has ever wanted to do. In Becky’s case, I don’t think any amount of children would be too many - but, I also think Becky is an outstanding exception to the “rule.” If the majority of parents were as singularly committed to their kids as Becky and her husband, people would be less inclined to raise eyebrows at large families. I know I wouldn’t be able to do it, so I have one child :slight_smile:

That’s really interesting, LifeOnWry.
How many kids does your friend have at one time? I wasn’t able to make out from your post.

I also think (and why, I don’t know) that it’s different if you are doing it to help others (as is the case of foster kids) as opposed to the couple in the OP who had 14 biological kids.

My friend’s mom also does foster children, but has only had one or two at a time.

How did you feel about being the eldest of 9 kids? Did you feel that you were ‘robbed’ of your childhood because you had to help care for yor siblings?