How big is too big for a family?

BNB - I actually have to think about that for a second. I know at one time (last summer) “Becky” and her kids were here for the day swimming. I forgot to mention that she also babysits for a couple kids, believe it or not. So let me think… her six, plus the little group of three sibs she had, and two of her babysitting kids… I think that was her max to date. So actually living in her house at the time were nine. Occasionally, she ends up with an emergency care kid - a young teen tossed out of his home in the middle of the night, or a group of sibs that was in immediate danger and needed beds NOW. Somehow she manages.

I sort of see your point about fostering “extras” as opposed to birthing them, but kids are kids no matter who brought them into the world. I would gently suggest that it’s more a case of what we’re used to than anything else. Most of us would be completely overwhelmed at the idea of more than two or three kids, so naturally we’d look at someone with 14 and think, “holy cow!”

My own childhood as the eldest of a huge brood is atypical at best. As I said, lots of step and half sibs, which means there were multiple marriages and such, plus even without ANY kids my parents would have been classified as dysfunctional in the extreme. I’d feel funny about posting my experiences only because they’re so far off the map of normal that they wouldn’t even compute.

Any family where the kids outnumber the adults is too big. :smiley:

Well, some folks figure the planet is already overpopulated, so if couples only had two or fewer kids, wouldn’t the number eventually go down?

I have 4 kids (well… cheating a bit, I have 3 and am 7 months pregnant with my 4th). According to some folks that’s a big family, so I’ll answer your questions.

The appeal of so many children is that I like children! I love watching them interact with each other. I love seeing how different they are, and what they share in common. The chaos gets to me sometimes, but I can more often just laugh when my 6 year old is saying, “Mom, please help me with my homework” at the same time my 3 year old is saying, “Push me on the swing!” and my 20 month old is saying, “More juice!”

Money and space aren’t major issues for us. Not to say that we have unlimited amounts of either, but we have enough for them not to limit our children at the moment. For me, 4 is the perfect number of children to have. Their clothes are used, or maybe from Target if I’m splurging, and they share rooms, but they are well fed and well loved.

It wouldn’t bother me at all if they weren’t mine biologically. In fact we seriously looked into adoption. The major problem was cost. It costs over $20,000 to adopt a child (similar amounts domestically and internationally). With my insurance it costs $10 for all my prenatal care and childbirth. If we were infertile, it would be worth it to spend the money to get a child, but I’m very fertile, and the monetary difference is just too great. I even did a Pit rant about the issue while it was going on.

Any other questions?

According to studies, 2.5 kids is ideal. Would anyone like to take .5 kid off my hands so my life could be ideal?

Depends on which half I would get! If it’s the diapering half, no thanks! :slight_smile:

Autz, I know what you mean about the expense of adopting. We looked into it,too. My figures were also in the $20,000 range.

I think I am getting ripped off, though. My insurance is charging me $25.00 bucks for having a baby. :wink:

Some interesting stuff on over population and world reproductive rates can be found in this thread in GD. For the most part I agree with the majority that it depends on the abilities of the parents to care for the child. I grew up in a family of eight and we were friends with a family who had fifteen. The family who had 15 was a kind and gentle as you could ever imagine and the children are, all the ones who are now grown at least, healthy, responsible adults with fine families of their own. Although I agree that material needs are important, I feel emotional needs are the overriding factor. Even if your children have to share rooms or wear hand-me-downs, as long as they are loved and time is spent to teach them right from wrong and ensure they know they are loved, they’ll turn out ok.


I was one of five. Seven if you include the set of twins which were born prematurely and died. My mother had the 7 of us within 6 years of each other. We weren’t rich, but we always had enough to eat. We had a nice roof over our head. We went to Catholic school. There would’ve been more, but my mother had uterine cancer while she was carrying me and had to have a hysterectomy when I was born. My mother was the third oldest of 11. I don’t recall ever feeling like I wasn’t getting enough attention. The beauty of a large family is that you not only get attention from your parents, you get it from your siblings. And when you get older you have someone that remembers the little moments of your shared lives. Someone who remembers when you got stuck in the snowbank or had to sit at the table until you ate your liver. Even if you marry, you never have that depths of shared past. True, you don’t always get along with your siblings, let alone understand them, but you’re family just the same.

By the way - I have no children. At this point in my life, it feels unlikely that I’ll have any. I’ve always felt if I did have them, I’d like to have at least 4. Maybe as many as 7.


To me, a big family would be 5 or more kids. I don’t see a problem with it. I have no idea how many kids I will have, but I would be open to having a big family.
My dad had six siblings and I think it’s kind of nice that the family is so large and diverse.
I only have one sibling, and while I certainly don’t have any dislike for him, I don’t hang out with him much or feel very close to him. Maybe if I had more siblings, I would have someone in the family I could view as a friend and confidate.
I don’t see anything wrong with expecting older kids to help with their younger siblings, as long as the parents are still supervising things. The kid shouldn’t be the primary caregiver, but it’s probably good for them to have SOME responsibilities.
As for the high costs of adoption, that only applies to adopting babies through private sources, doesn’t it? I seem to remember hearing that adopting a foster kid is often free if the child is considered “special needs”.

Too big is when the parent(s) can’t handle the number of kids - emotionally or financially. For some people that is one. For some people that may involve 15 or more.

Now, not handling is a subjective thing…and open to much discussion. But I’m not going to say that you have to be able to feed your kids steak every night, or wear gymboree clothes. Or that it isn’t fair to your four year old if there are three in diapers behind him and mom doesn’t have time to sit with him every day and help him learn to be a neurosurgeon.

Adoptions are expensive. Healthy infant adoptions aren’t subsidized by anyone - insurance, the government. Actually, that isn’t true, the government will give you a $10k tax credit towards adoption - but its after the fact. Why we give a tax credit so yuppie families can adopt healthy babies (internationally or domestically) is beyond me - it isn’t like these kids are waiting for homes (I want to go on record at this point as being a political liberal and adoptive parent, but this is the stupidest handout the government gives - I can think of dozens of things that I’d rather see my tax dollars go to than subsidizing adoptions). The wait to adopt from a place like China is over a year right now. It is possible to adopt for cheap - my sister in law did hers for less than $3k - they knew the birthfather through church, so they only needed to pay for the homestudy and legal fees. But lv is right, many states have programs that allow you to adopt waiting children for free. In Minnesota this program never gets infants, 90% of the children have been physically, sexually, and/or emotionally abused. Some have special physical needs. And its often a sibling arrangment - two or more kids at a time.

I have a cousin who’s wife is expecting #7. They have six boys. And she homeschools them. I use to think they were insane, now, after having kids, I admire them. They are the most well behaved boys.

I probably read the same article as you Bad News Baboon in one of the parenting magazines. Woman with 14 kids, all biblical names like Jedidiah.

My best friend in elementary school was the youngest of 15. Seven boys. Eight girls. She learned alot from her siblings mistakes and was very grounded. But the ones closest to her in age were a little messed up from lack of parenting.

I always thought I would have five or six children but girlish daydreams fade into reality and two is a good number for us, though I would never turn down a third. I operate best in utter chaos. Two is…( and I know I am dooming myself for this) almost too easy. I have nothing to complain about. With two we will be able to give them more, not necessarily toys and fab clothing ( those are all resale/garage sale items) but experiences like concerts, travel, art exhibits, after school sports if they want and, most importantly our time and attention.

I’ve seen families with one or two kids that obviously procreated because it was on the to-do list and stuffed their kids in day care or with a nanny while persuing their own careers and the kids are hellions and the parents don’'t know why. I weep for the kids in these circumstances. I’d rather spend my time with a mom with 10 kids because she wanted those kids and spends time with them.

I think thrift store clothes are only a problem if the children care where their clothes came from. I’m friends with a family that has three kids who are a little younger than me (eldest, 22; youngest, 18) and their mom always got their stuff at Goodwill and Value village. They didn’t care when they were younger, and when they got older the kids figured that a slightly faded t-shirt for $2 was better than a new one that would fade in a couple of washings and cost $25.

When I was sixteen I started deliberately shopping at Value Village instead of the mall. The stuff was more interesting. shrug It depends on the kids.

I agree with most people- it’s too big if the parents just can’t cope, and the kids aren’t gettign what they need, and some people can’t cope with even one kid. I want to have two, because I don’t think I could manage a big family. I’m an only child, and even two seems like a lot for me, personally.

My wife and I have five kids, who differ in age by five years; the oldest two are twins. We also tried to adopt a boy who was just a few months older than our oldest, but that didn’t work out. I have to disagree with those who think that children, especially middle children, in large families either don’t get enough attention, or are “saddled” with taking care of their younger children.

It all depends on the child. On of our twins was always “little miss mom” when a new baby came home. She wanted nothing more than to take care of him. (The younger three are all boys.) The other twin never did that, but she became best buds with her next youngest brother. And that is the thing that smaller families miss out on. No matter who is mad at whom, there is always someone to play with. Kids give each other so much attention and love, that doing calculations like: that gives you .8435 hours a child a night. Sure, I read to the girls at the same time, and I read to the boys at the same time. That doesn’t make it any less warm and comforting for them. It makes it more.

It is true that not all couples can handle large numbers. My wife could probably handle dozens. Me, I find five stressful, but I love them all and they are still fun and I certainly never wish I could give any back. My sister can barely handle her one. Although I never had just one kid, I would think having just one would be very stressful. And lonely for the kid, as Jennyrosity pointed out.

All that said, I make enough my wife could stay home with the kids. She just started going back to work part time, now that the kids are all in school full time. I can afford a large enough house, two large vehicles, etc. I do feel guilty about overpopulating the earth, and buying fuel hogs, but then I figure it balances out. One thing that hasn’t been brought up is that the US population is only growing because of immigration. The net birth rate is below replacement level. (And China’s population will shrink, eventually.)

I don’t want to flame, but I do want to gently disagree. I can see that some only children really do wish they had siblings, and may well be lonely. But that isn’t always the case. I’m an only child who has never wished otherwise. As well as the obvious material benefits, it’s helped me develop a really nice relationship with my parents; they’re my friends as well as my mum and dad. It’s no bad thing, being the only one, it has its own benefits just as having a big family has its own benefits.

I have three kids and that’s enough for me. The world, though, seems to think three is two many. This is based on my conversations with people:

With two kids…
“How many kids do you have?”
“That’s Nice.”

With three kids…
“How many kids do you have?”

Overpopulation concerns pass through my head every now and then but I have coworkers with one or none and they say that’ll never change. If that’s the case, then I’m just borrowing an unused kid from them.

Is this considered to be a hardship? I didn’t have a room of my own till I had an apartment of my own at age 21. And hand-me-downs were a fact of life - I even wore stuff from my male cousin. I wasn’t crazy about sharing a room with my sister, but mostly it was just where we slept or were sent for punishment, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Sorry - didn’t mean to hijack. I just don’t understand the concept of kids requiring their own rooms. Sharing is an important social skill.

Apparently, kids going to dorms (where you need to share a room) who have never shared end up having problems. Its become problematic for colleges - who don’t have enough singles for everyone to be happy. Something else you learn at college.

I have two kids, a girl and a boy, and I know Belrix is right because when people ask about my kids and I say “I have two.” They say “boys or girls” and I say “One of each.” And then they compliment me on such a perfect family. Like two girls or two boys or, god forbid, three children and an Irish Setter would be a less perfect family. Or like I had that much to do with it. The boy we did choose gender by default (i.e. we didn’t choose to adopt a girl and therefore knew we’d adopt a boy), but the girl came later and in the tradition have sex, get baby method where gender is the surprise in the Cracker Jacks (for us, the Cracker Jacks themselves were something of a surprise).

There is currently a debate about gender selection in adoption on another board I frequent (one for adoptive parents). I’m always surprised how many people will have two boys biologically, and then go out and spend $20,000 to adopt a little girl so they have a gender mix.

I never thought so–hell, I didn’t get my own bedroom until my senior year and that was only because my older sister moved out for college that fall.

But then, when I got pregnant with my second child you wouldn’t believe how many people asked me when I would be moving to a bigger place. Not if, but when. I live in a two-bedroom house, with a good sized yard and more than enough room for me and two babies. And yet, time and time again, when I’d reply that we were staying where we were and the boys would be sharing a room I got the crinkle. You know–that haughty nose crinkle, paired with the nearly silent “humph” that is code for “I find your position to be repulsive and of questionable morality, however, for the sake of avoiding confrontation I will simply crinkle my nose and tell you how lovely I think it is”.

Like someone else mentioned, more and more women (myself included) are planning on never having any children at all. I have no problem with big families as long as they can take care of what they’ve got before having more, I just see them as making up the difference.

Many people will disagree with me, but I don’t think your ability to provide enough money to raise kids should be the determining factor as to how many you have. We live in an overpopulated world and the problem will grow exponentally as time goes on. I don’t want my kids growing up in a world that is so overcrowded that there aren’t enough resources for everyone, they have a hard time even finding work, and all the other headaches that come along with too many people. The time to head this off is now, not when there are 10 billion people around.

Yeah, I’m not sure what is up with that. If we were to split our twins up, ironically, we would get the same reaction. We bred our way out of that, though. No one expects you to have seven bedrooms, and a spare.