Growing up in a Large Family Prepares you for adulthood. How do I know? I am an unabashed, unapologetic mother of 12. I value children and their inherent goodness and contribution to the beauty of the world as much as most value the almighty dollar. In an era where plastic bags are more reviled than the mutilated bodies of the unborn babies who are callously thrown inside, I am scorned and accused of being the downfall of Mother Earth.
In an era of woke and enlightened feminists (who are neither woke or enlightened) I, with my double major, am a puzzling, if not downright offense to all that is feminism. I mean, what can be more degrading than washing 500 loads of laundry, scrubbing floors, nursing a dozen babies (literally), playing House, cooking, educating, and building legos? What a waste of an education, they think. What a waste of a life…
But the truth is, where else would I yield as much earth shattering change? Where else could I make the world a better place? In a cubicle? As CEO of some Fortune 500 company? As an athlete, a celebrity?
Inasmuch as society doesn’t truly value the sacrificial works that parents, stay-at-home-moms in particular, undertake on a daily basis, I thought perhaps I would shine a light on the extraordinary benefits of Growing Up In a Large Family.
To quote my son, Kenny, the best thing about having a large family is , “There is never down time. No matter what you are doing, there is always someone, at least, who will do it with you.” So without further ado let me take a minute and elaborate more on the abundant positive learning experiences that evolve from growing up in a large family.
How To Communicate
Communication is a failing art. To know this truth, simply browse Facebook and dare to read a few comments on various political posts. There is a staggering lack of communication skills. People simply don’t know how to discuss differing opinions, tempers flare, personal attacks ensue, and eventually, it dissolves into a slew of personal attacks.
Growing Up in a large family teaches children how to communicate. Perhaps because they have a greater need to communicate well in order to be heard. But, regardless, they grasp the reality that not everyone in the family thinks the same, and they learn to understand why their siblings do or say certain things and by understanding them, they learn to appreciate them for who they are.
Nothing improved our communication as a family more than living in a 36′ RV for 7 years. There was no running away as there was no place to go. Each one of us learned how to come together to solve problems, encourage and support each other, all the while building closer and tighter bonds. It took a little while, but we eventually grasped the concept. Tighter bonds mean that home is a place of refuge, you know you have a safe place to crash if and when you need it. Priceless.
How To Shine On Your Own
Growing up in a large family means you have less individual attention from your parents, which may sound like a huge negative, but it has its benefits. Parents of many don’t have the resources to helicopter parent, we don’t have the luxury of placing all our hopes and dreams on our single child. In a nutshell, kids in large families are safe from the pressures of ambitious parents. What this means is that our kids grow up to be exactly who they were meant to be, not who we wanted them to be.
This does not mean our children run amok with little to no parental supervision. But it does mean, we are often much more likely to send our kids out of the house to run and play because they are with a literal gang of siblings. They are free to climb trees, make forts, take chances, and learn from the consequences. It also almost always means, their successes are theirs and theirs alone because they took the initiative and put the necessary work into their goals without mom or dad pushing them to succeed.
You are Absolutely NOT Entitled
Unfortunately, many kids these days seem to be missing the message that anything good is worth working toward. They don’t know how to suffer They are growing up feeling and acting as though their mere existence entitles them to money, the newest and greatest electronic gadgets, designer clothes, luxury cars, free college educations and more. There are even countless Gofund Me accounts begging for money for luxuries.
Kids from big families don’t have this mentality. Growing up in a large family means that nothing was handed to you on a silver platter. It also most likely means that you didn’t grow up with a silver spoon, so you don’t think the world revolves around you. You know absolutely that if you want something, you are going to have to work for it, without question. You see, in a big family, there are many different wants, and even more needs among you and your siblings. You learn early on, that just because you want something, doesn’t mean you will be given it, and if you want it badly enough, you will labor for it.
Kids from big families learn to suffer well!
Ahhh, see, this one I thought was merely a matter of genetics, as all my children are cut-throat in their competitiveness. But, in retrospect and in talking with parents of other large broods, I’ve realized it can also be attributed to family size. Growing Up in a Large Family means you have a lot of in-house competition in regards to nearly everything, from board games to sports, even food. I’m a proponent of healthy competition and fun, healthy competitiveness.
Competition is central to education and self-confidence mostly because it teaches kids the lifelong lesson that failure can occur, and when it does, they learn to brush themselves off and grow from the experiences. Kids who Grow Up in a Large Family, never stress or break under pressure. They develop a high tolerance for failure making them some of the most resilient and confident individuals.
This fact makes kids from big families the most fun competitors in the world because their entire lives aren’t hanging in the balance of this one event.
Don’t Shy Away From Conflict/Pick Your Battles
Growing Up in a Large Family means there is almost always some amount of conflict happening at some level. You learn when to stand up for yourself and others. You also learn to stay away when an argument is nothing more than a petty squabble.
As a member of a large family, you learn that your opinions are not what the world revolves around, but that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for everything. Kids with many siblings learn about so many different views because they are constantly subjected to conversation that involves varying subjects. Most importantly, you learn to not take disagreement personally, you respect others points of view and you expect them to respect yours.
Learn What Loyalty Really Means
Family is everything. That is what you learn first and foremost when growing up in a large family. In our family we always have each other’s back.. At the end of the day, your loyalty lies with your family regardless. We know each other’s flaws, all the skeletons, and we choose to stand by each other’s side!
You learn early how blessed you are to always have a friend to play with, work with, cook with, read with, learn with, adventure with. I mean look, in the midst of this global pandemic, this Covid-19, when everything seems to be changing and falling apart, there is this constant: our family. We have no need to go out, we aren’t going to lose our minds self isolating because we have our posse right here.
It is through our crazy big family that we have all learned that loyalty is sticking with someone through the thick and the thin, no matter how angry they make you. No grudges, no resentment, just love and acceptance.
Forever and Ever
One of the things I personally always craved as a youngster was the concept of unconditional love. So much so that I tested everyone around me, all the time. It was of utmost importance to me that my children felt this kind of love and support. Of course, that doesn’t mean approval of everything they do, nor does it mean any of us live in a consequence free world, but at the end of the day we love each other unconditionally.
This is such a gift, such a confidence builder that I daresay we have no need to brown nose, we don’t do cliquey things, we don’t need or crave acceptance … we are 100% authentic in who we are. We know we can take risks and we have a posse that will cheer us on and catch us if we fall. And none of my kids needs or seeks approval from the outside world. That’s a beautiful thing.