Grace studied all aspects of the family.The large family has a vastly different culture.The large family exists in ITS OWN universe.
Children in the Large Family Environment
A child's family size influences the standard and quality of a child's life. It dictates how h/she will be parented and disciplined. It determines how much or little material resources h/she will have.. It even governs the extent of his opportunities and education h/she will receive. In large families (6-more children per household), children's circumstances and lives are usually different from children in small families(1-2 children per household).
Children in large families have to compete with a large number of siblings for parental time, attention, and resources. They even have to compete for space as they live in crowded environments. In large families, everything is at a premium. Not only is everything at a premium, there is also scarcity. Because there is so little of everything in the large family household, children learn that it is imperative that they share. There is no such thing as privacy in large families either physically nor psychologically for in large families, children know what others are doing. In such a crowded environment, it is hard to be alone and have privacy. Privacy is a rare occurrence in the large family environment.
In a large family, children learn to make the most out of least whether it is time, space, and resources. It is an understatement that in large families, there are more people than there are resources whether it is actual and/or parental time, space, material, and/or monetary resources. There is never enough of anything in large families. Resources, monies, and human time are stretched to the limit and beyond. Oftentimes, children in large families suffer in one way or other because of this lack. The large family environment can be tough, even difficult environment for children to grow up in.
The Harsh Environment of Children in Large Families
How the Large Family Negatively Impacts on Children
Children in large families, on average, live in difficult, even harsh environments. One can describe their socioeconomic situation as tenuous at best and precarious at worst. Monies must be stretched among a large amount of children and oftentimes ends are not met. It is not unusual for them to do without. At times, they must do without the necessities in order to stay socioeconomically afloat yet another day. Living from day to day is quite normative in the large family environment. Living, if one can call it that, is at the most basic, lowest denominator. Socioeconomically, they are poor at best and impoverished, even penurious at worst. Lifestyles of poverty, scarcity, struggle, doing without, and constant want are quite commonplace in large families.
Children in large families do not receive the prerequisite parental time, care, and attention. They are quite bereft of such. Due to the sheer number of children in the family, they simply are not going to have the parental attention or interaction that children need to thrive. Parents' emotional resources are stretched to the limit in the large family environment. There are no resources for the degree of nurturing that children must have to feel loved and worthwhile. Parental styles are very perfunctory at best. Anything beyond the perfunctory style of parenting is non-existent. There is only so much emotional parental resources that can be expended per each child. Oftentimes, these children's emotional and psychological needs are not met. They are attention deprived and can be needy as a result of insufficient parental attention. They feel worthless, even undeserving and unloved. They may even develop a harsh, tough demeanor to hide their neediness.
Negative IMPACT on Children
The Objectivization of Children in Large Families
There are parents in large families who see and even treat their children as objects. There are parents who have children as one would have a doll collection. They know that logically that it is not realistic to have a large number of children but in their minds, they want the number of children imagined. For example, parents who want lots of boys because they want a ready made sports team. Some parents have many children because they want an equal gender ratio between boys and girls. Other parents keep having children because they want that particular boy or girl. There was a noted instance in which parents of twelve sons were trying for a daughter. Although they have twelve sons, that was not enough for them-they wanted a daughter. The mother became pregnant again and had the thirteenth child - another son. These parents maintain that they are going to continue having children until they have a daughter.
There are even parents who have lots of children because of the mother's need to have a baby. There are women who have many children because she wants a new baby. They are happy when the baby is born but soon the baby becomes a toddler, she loses interest and yearn for yet another baby to recapture that new baby feeling. It does not matter that the older children are cast aside and neglected in favor of the new baby. There are women who get a visceral rush each time they have a new baby so in order to get that rush again, she becomes pregnant yet again because she wants a new baby the way some women want new shoes.
Children in large families are routinely objectified. Oldest and/or older children are viewed as free live in au pairs, nannies, and/or maids. They are viewed mainly as servants and second parents for their younger siblings and even their parents. After their service, they are discarded in favor of their younger, particularly youngest siblings. The position of older, particularly oldest children, is highly precarious in the large family environment. It is not unusual for them to be continuously cast aside, even discarded in favor of succedent siblings. It must be psychologically and even psychically immobilizing to be continuously dethroned and regulated to second, third, and eventually last place in the familial scheme of things. Their feeling regarding this incessant dethronement is utter resignation. They feel that they are just there, if that.
In the large family dynamic, children are not seen nor treated as individuals, rather they are seen and treated as part of the group. Individuality and a sense of self-worth are neither engrained nor encouraged in such children. Children are taught to have a group consciousness, mindset and philosophy. It is not unusual for children in large families to be dressed alike. For a child to assert his/her individuality is disturbing, even threatening to the large family dynamic. The most important thing in the large family is the overall family unit, never the individual. The individual is nothing in the scheme of things in the large family. The belief is that if everyone acted as an individual, the family dynamic would stop functioning. In order to function, children in large families must act, think, and even function as a group.
Being Objectified by Parents
Children of Large Families are....DEVALUED
Children in large families oftentimes live at the lowest possible level. They are reduced to the lowest common denominator in terms of lifestyles and life options. In large families, there are more people than there are reasonable financial resources. The average large family is poor, even quite poor. There are large families who can be classified as impoverished and even extremely penurious. There is a constant struggle to keep socioeconomically afloat. The large family life does not include amenities, luxuries, and socioeconomic affluences. In fact, these things are foreign, even anathemas to large families. The normative lifestyle of large families is get the most out of scant economic resources.
Children in large families are used to having very little. In large families, there is a disproportionate number of children to allocated finances. It is very difficult to make ends meet. The main concern is living from day to day. Children learn very early to be content with only rudiments of life if that. Sometimes they do not even have the rudiments as money is stretched too thin. There is a saying or truism that children from large families have....LESS in terms of assets and quality of life. This issue of less includes having to settle for lesser quality in terms of goods and services which can make them feel devalued.
Because of the disproportionate ratio of children to scant finances, children in large families have inferior, even poor quality of food and clothing. Good quality and nutritious food is way too expensive for the average large family. It is not uncommon for children in large families to consume cheaper brands of food which have little or no nutritive value. They get their food from food pantries and other places where they can get food in bulk. Such foods are often of inferior quality. Besides powdered foods, the main staple are processed and canned foods because such foods are cheaper. Many children in large families do not get enough food because food dollars stretch only so far. There are instances of some children in large families going to bed hungry so that other children can eat. Furthermore, there are children who only get complete meals through school sponsored programs as their parents cannot adequately feed their large family.
Children in large families do not have better quality clothes as their financial circumstances prohibit such. It is not unusual for them to wear secondhand, cast off, and/or inferior quality clothing. Shopping at secondhand stores, even bargain basements is common for them. Their clothes are oftentimes utilitarian and not fashionable. In addition, their clothes are frequently of very cheap quality. There are instances which their clothes are outdated. If the large family is extremely penurious, they have clothes only through charitable and church donations.
Children in large families have inadequate, even no health, medical and/or dental care. Parents in large families cannot afford to take their children to doctors and/or dentists for regular and/or preventive health, medical, and/or dental care. These children learn to put up and endure minor ailments and illnesses. They may have to tolerate major illnesses as going to the doctors and hospital is beyond what the family can afford. Those who are lucky have school sponsored health, medical, and/or dental programs to take care of their health, medical, and/or dental needs.
How Children in Large Families are......DEHUMANIZED
Children in large families are not seen as precious entities by their parents. In fact, they are treated in a very abrupt and perfunctory manner. They are also seen as mere numbers or en masse instead of being seen as unique individuals. There is a psychological coldness in the large family environment. Children in large families do not receive extensive parental love and affection. Many parents of large families feel that to give children attention and affection spoils them. They are quite cursory in their interaction with their children.
Parents of large families are quite undemonstrative towards their children as opposed to parents of small families who are very demonstrative. Parents of large families have a matter of fact way in terms of parenting. They stretch their parenting methodology to effect the most children. Also, parental interaction occurs only when absolutely necessary. There is no warm parent-child interaction as there is in small families. In the large family environment, parents are cold and distant. They are also little or not involved in their children's daily machinations. One can state that parental interaction and involvement are very sketchy at best.
In large families, parents simply do not have the emotional and psychological energy, not to mention resources to spend individually with each child. In order to survive psychically, they must conserve their emotional and psychological energy/resources for more important familial matters. Children in large families learn to be independent and to lean upon themselves and/or each other very early in life. Those who are successfully independent and are able to navigate their familial environment will survive, if not thrive. Those who cannot navigate their environment and/or dependent will sink, if not fall through the familial cracks. It is commonplace for children in large families to raise themselves and/or each other. Child neglect is quite normative in the large family dynamic as children are left to their own devices.
Oldest children in large families are subjected to the most disparate treatment. They are inundated with adult responsibilities early in life. They are pressed into parenting their younger siblings as the actual parents are unable or unwilling to assume their parenting duties. When older, they oftentimes must work to supplement family income, oftentimes foregoing their education. Middle children fade into the background, even becoming lost in the shuffle because parents cannot give them the needed attention. It is not surprising that many middle children in large family fall through the familial cracks. Youngest children in large families hardly know who their parents are as it is the oldest and/or older siblings who raise them. Such youngest children may be even abused by the oldest and/or older siblings because of combined factors of resentment and jealousy.
EXPERIENCING Being Dehumanized
Children in large families are oftentimes objectified, devalued, and/or even dehumanized. There are parents who have large families because they view their children as mere collections of some sort. They even have large families to fill some goal and quota which is not pertinent to the benefit of their children. They also treat their children as a mass because it is easier for them to do so than to exert the effort to treat them individually.
Children in large families are on the short end of the stick in terms of goods and services. They have the worst of everything whether it is food, clothing, and/or even medical care if they have such. They feel that since they have inferior goods and services, they are not valuable nor worthwhile people. They are relegated to second best or inferior status.
They grow up in an environment where there is little or no interaction from their parents. Their relationship with their parents is cursory and quite utilitarian at best. They may also be neglected as they must fend for themselves because their parents are not there for them. Children in large families are subject to a harsh and even harrowing life because their parents elect to have children, not thinking about the emotional, financial, and psychological ramifications of their actions. It is the children who always suffer.
Treatment of Children in Large Families
© 2017 Grace Marguerite Williams
Betty A F from Florida on November 09, 2020:
Grace, I totally identify with this article.
I was the 12th born in a family of 13 children.
My father died when I was 2 years old.
You touched on so many truths of the difficulties for children in large families.
All of which are true.
Two things that I can say were good about all of it is I learned very well how to share, and most definitely care about others even those who let up down the most.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on September 10, 2018:
Thank you so much for stopping by & responding. It is greatly appreciated.
Deborah Reno from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on September 10, 2018:
You certainly have an interesting perspective. I appreciate your opinion, although I do not agree with it.
Wish you all the best with your writing.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on September 10, 2017:
Thank you for responding.
Kari Poulsen from Ohio on September 10, 2017:
I come from a large family (5 children). Lucky for me, my father made enough to support us comfortably. There was never money for extras, but we did get allowance in exchange for chores. I remember wearing hand me downs almost every day. I still love lime candy (the kind no one else wanted) and chicken wings (again, not popular in my family). I do have some self worth problems and I'm pretty co-dependent. Working on these issues, lol.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on May 14, 2017:
Exactly, the birth control pill freed women from reproductive tyranny. However, smart women in the past KNEW how to prevent pregnancies. Thank you for stopping by & for your response! It is greatly appreciated.
Martie Coetser from South Africa on May 14, 2017:
Every word so true. Unfortunately! But before the arrival of the Pill, children were seen as 'blessings' by almost all cultures in the world. Trying to prevent pregnancies was a terrible sin. Somehow the Pill has opened many eyes, and encouraged people to accept responsibility and the right to make choices.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on February 19, 2017:
Thank you for reading and responding. I have studied the large family system extensively.. In addition to academic study both formally and informally, I had relatives, friends, and associates, not to mention parents who came from large families. Their lives could be described as a living hell. The "lives" of many children in large families can be analogous to that of labor camp prisoners. Both parties endured inhumane conditions and were considered to be less than human. Many people fail to realize that children in large families lead hellish lives which imparted to them a harsh, cynical outlook. They are abused but do not know it. They have been negatively impacted so much that they believe that their lifestyle is normal-that is what INCENSE me. They have an INVERSE psychology and consciousness. Thank you again for reading the article and for responding.
JR Krishna from India on February 19, 2017:
Brilliant article. Truly, children of large families are deprived of luxuries and many a time even necessities. They crave for attention. It is poverty among plenty.