They May Be a Modern “Oddity,” But These Families Have a Lot to Teach Us

Photo by Anna Samoylova (Unsplash).

 

Being a parent brings with it the greatest joy in the world, but realistically, it can also be stressful.

Add in working full-time, taking care of a household, and all the other responsibilities, and it can be downright overwhelming.

But, ironically, large families seem to balance it all a little better – so what’s their secret?

Before the 20th century, it was not uncommon for parents to have many children.  Now, however, families with more than three or four kids seem to be an oddity.

In fact, the U.S. fertility rate is now lower than it’s been in decades with the average woman having “1.7” children, according to the CDC.

In the 1950s, when most women were stay at home moms, American families had an average of three children.

Sadly, with the rising cost of living that makes it difficult to survive without two incomes, many parents are having less children than they’d like.

The costs of childcare and education are skyrocketing, and many find the balancing act too difficult.  

The New York Times reported on a recent Gallup Poll, however, that showed that many parents would like to have more children — and that more than 40 percent of adults think three or more children is an ideal number.

But the realities of modern life seem to limit the fulfillment of that desire.

People question how anyone can raise multiple children – say, five or more – without breaking the bank or their sanity, especially if both parents work outside the home.

But, in reality, big families don’t seem to have any more stress than parents with only two or three children.

So, how do they do it?

Sure, they may make a good income; they may have more support from family — there may be many factors that influence whether or not to have a big family.

But it appears the most important factor is how large families approach things.

Studies have shown that once a family has three or more children, the amount of stress seems to decline.

It’s all about the delegation; the sharing and compromising that comes with multiple children in a family.

And these parents do something most of us have a hard time with — they don’t sweat the small stuff.

Large families work together more seamlessly – because they have to.  Older children help more with chores and helping younger siblings, and they learn from an early age to be a little more independent.

And these moms and dads appear to be less hard on themselves to be the “perfect” parents when there are multiple children.

In essence, the little things that they worried about the first couple times around worked out just fine – so now, they worry less and enjoy more.

Big families work better as a team, knowing that everyone needs to pitch in to get everything done.

And, yes, many moms with multiple children work full-time outside the home.  They’re busy; they don’t seem to slow down.  But they also aren’t as overwhelmed as many of us with fewer children.

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They find they have grown as individuals with every child.  They have learned what works and what doesn’t.

And when Mom and Dad have several children, each develops a sense of responsibility and independence at an earlier age. 

Kids who have multiple siblings are said to have higher self-esteem, confidence, and a sense of a support system.  Remember The Brady Bunch?

After all, we all do a little better in life when we know we have a lot of people who love and support us, and big families have this in spades.

They may have to make more sacrifices.  They may have to do more with less.  

But in not sweating the small stuff, they have more time to work together and understand what it takes to make things run smoothly – and to appreciate what really matters.

It appears the trade-offs (like lots of hand-me-downs) are well worth the sense of being a part of a big, happy, crazy family.

If you know a large family, offer your support.  But don’t hesitate to ask for their advice, as well.  They’ve got a lot of practice and some great strategies we can all learn from!

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