Grace has seen the negative impact of large families through her extended family.It's thoughtless to have more children than one can afford.
The MORE, the Merrier and Better Philosophy
There are people who insist on, or in stronger terms, obsessed with having large families (6 &/or more children per household). They think and breathe having large families in every waking moment of their lives. Their mantra is the more children, the better and even merrier. In their assessment, there is never too many children. After all, the large family has been glorified in the past. Some psychologists, social scientists, and educators extolled the virtues of large family life, asserting how such families were beneficial to children's overall development.
Even society praised the large family as the idea family. Many people contended that the large family was the quintessential family and that one should strive to have a large family. In the past, the ideal family consisted of husband, wife, and as many children as possible. Large families were considered authentic, even true families which imbued familial camaraderie, even spirit. Religions and religious authorities further espoused that marriage was for the purpose of having children and lots of them. These authorities declared that not to have large families were acts of moral, even mortal transgression.
The Necessity of Large Families In Agrarian Societies
Now permit me to digress for a moment. Large families used to be necessary. In preurbanized and agrarian societies, large families were normal occurrences. In such societies, children were needed to work the farms. In essence, the more children to help with the farm work, the better. Also, parents had large families to guarantee that someone would have someone to care for them when they became old and/or infirm.
In agrarian societies, large families formed a caring network for those who were indigent, those who were challenged physically and mentally, and single women. Since infant mortality was high, people had large families to having a large family ensured that some of the children will survive until adulthood. For example, a couple had 12 children, hoping that at least 6 children would survive into adulthood. Large families were viewed as viable networks to ascertain that no one fell through the societal cracks.
Necessity of Large Families in Agrarian Societies
Large Families Due to Very Primitive of No Birth Control Methods In Preurban Socieities
In agrarian and preurban societies, birth control methods were more primitive, even rudimentary, and not as advanced as it is presently. Also birth control was considered quite taboo and against nature. It was expected that women married, they would have large families. Birth control, besides being viewed as taboo and unnatural, was deemed against a preordained order. Besides that, the thought of abortion was totally out of the question. Marital relationships were to result in children and as many as possible.
Sex was viewed mostly for procreation purposes. It was unheard of that couples would have relations for pleasure. That type of behavior was considered quite unconscionable to say the least. Also, birth control was considered to be illegal as it interfered with the marital act. Procreation was accepted as the inevitable consequences of the marital act. Women were expected to endure their pregnancies without question.
Large Families As a Result of Rudimentary or No Birth Control
The Rise of Urbanization and The Problematicity of Large Families
Then societies became increasingly urbanized. With the advent of urbanization, more people moved to cities in search of a better lifestyle. There was also less space in urban settings. Smaller and more congested spaces meant smaller families.. Since children were not needed to work on the farm, more children were considered liabilities because it meant that there were more mouths to feed.
Suddenly, large families were becoming problematic in urban areas To combat this escalating problem, there was an urgent need to implement better birth control methods. Margaret Sanger, a nurse and activist, was witness to women being completed inundated with frequent and unwanted pregnancies. They had more children than they could possibly take care of physically, emotionally and socioeconomically.
Ms. Sanger realized the perilous situation these mothers were in. As a result, she established the first birth control clinic. She believed that full women's emancipation included a woman's right to control her reproductive destiny. She further portended that in order for family life to be more harmonious, every child should be planned for and wanted What she was about to undertake was not easy sailing. She encountered opposition from men and particularly from religious authorities who staunchly contend that a women's role was to be married ad have as many children as God dictates.
Advent of Urbanization & the Problem of Large Families
The Pill and the Beginning of the DEMISE of Large Families
Great advancements in birth control technology came in the 1960s with the invention of the contraceptive pill. Before that time, birth control methods were quite faulty. Each time a woman had relations, there was an extremely high likelihood that she would become pregnant. Even a woman being very careful in her use of birth control did not preclude pregnancy.
The birth control pill was viewed as a boom to women, married and single alike. For single women it gave them more sexual choices and freedom. It also eliminated the fear of pregnancy for them. For married women, it gave them unimagined reproductive choices and unprecedented freedoms. Another aftereffect of the contraceptive pill was that families became smaller...and smaller.
The Pill & The Decline of Large Families
The RISE and BENEFITS of Small Families
Parents came to the realization that small families meant more freedom, especially for mothers to pursue avenues in education, job/career, and/or other outlets they may be interested in. Small families also meant less economic stress for the father He does not have to worry as to how he will support his family. In small families, the number of children per family is more manageable than it would be in large families.
In small families, there is more equal parity between husband and wife. Chances are that in small families, couples are working towards the support and upkeep of their children. Because the wife is working she is not a subordinate to her husband. She is an equal partner to her husband and has a say without equal participation in family affairs, especially on the socioeconomic end.
The Rise of the Small Family & Its BENEFITS
Small Families, Now the NORM
In the 1970s with the advent of feminism and the increase of women in the workplace, especially in high powered and professional careers, small families became the rule instead of an anomaly. In conjunction with women's entering the workforce in record numbers, they became more educated than ever before. Studies have repeatedly corroborated that the more educated a woman was, the less children she had. It has been reiterated that one method of reducing fertility is educating women.
As people become more educated, they realize the paramount importance of providing their children a decent standard of living with myriad educational and socioeconomic opportunities. They are cognizant of the fact that the more children they have, the more difficult it is to provide them with a decent standard of living. Studies indicate that poverty levels are highest in large families. Children in large families are more likely to be in poverty than children from small families.
Feminism & the Normalization of Small Families
When Will They Learn, What are They "Thinking"
However, there are people who elect to have large families despite the myriad benefits authenticated in having small families. These parents have large families, knowing well that they are ill-equipped psychologically and socioeconomically to care for a large number of children. However, they contend that their children will have to learn to adjust to their familial situation.
These parents have an idealization of having large family despite the reality of unaffordability. They oftentimes have an idealized, even fantastical view of how nice and bucolically idyllic it would be to have lots of children. While they have that idealized premise, they are quite unconcerned with, have no idea, and/or actually do not care what actually is involved in raising a large family. The reality is quite different from their idealization regarding raising a large family.
What are They ........Thinking?!
This is......SO DAUNTING.....What Am I To Do
It is a near impossibility for parents to effectively raise a large number of children by themselves. The span of control is too great between parents and children. In large families, children far outnumber parents. Parents realizing that sheer volume of the number of children they have must enlist their oldest and/or older children to be second parents to the younger children in the family.
In large families, typically parents do not raise their children. It is very commonplace, even normative for oldest and/or older children to assume parenting duties, raising the younger children. In fact, many younger children consider the oldest and/or oldest children as parents instead of the actual parents. Many parents of large families are parents in name only. Oftentimes, after each succedent child is born, the child is simply handed over to the oldest and/or older sibling to parent. Oldest and/or older children can be aptly classified and/or described as quintessential parentified children.
This is .......OVERWHELMING
In SHOULDER Deep.......So What?
The socioeconomic situation in large families is quite tenuous, if not harrowingly precarious. In the large family environment, the father is the sole breadwinner. He has to constantly worry about how to allocate monies and support a large number of children Oftentimes children must go without even the necessities because monies are stretched to the hilt. If children want and desire anything, they must get afterschool and/or weekend jobs in order to obtain what they want.
In large families, children must work in order to supplement family income and to keep their families at the bare subsistence level. The concepts of amenities, luxuries, and an affluent life beyond poverty and constant struggle are total anathemas to them. Typical large families are extremely lucky just to have a minimum standard of living, if that.
Because of the stark socioeconomic environment in large families, children in such families develop a negativistic poverty mentality. To them, life is a continual series of roadblocks of struggle. They learn to expect very little in life. They may even contend that they deserve nothing because their parents brought them up in poverty which struggle and doing without are normative. This outlook explains why children from large families maintain that children from small, affluent families are spoiled as the latter's parents can well afford to provide them with more than a barely subsistent standard of living. To a child from a large family, the concept of a socioeconomically affluent lifestyle is foreign to them as they are quite comfortable, even accustomed to a life of poverty, struggle, scarcity, and want.
STRUGGLING to Stay......Afloat
I NEED To Have Children
There are women who have large families because of an addiction to being pregnant. They often receive adulation from others only when they are pregnant. Also, being pregnant gives them a visceral high which they do not have otherwise. Furthermore, being pregnant is the main focus of their lives as they do not have outside hobbies, careers, and/or other interests. Since they have nothing worthwhile in their lives, being pregnant gives them the joy and impetus which are missing in their lives.
When the baby is born, these women are initially overjoyed, even elated but once the baby becomes a toddler, he/she is no longer that cute, cuddly baby so she gets pregnant again in order to have that cuddly baby-often neglecting the older children. Such women oftentimes go through several pregnancies until her baby hunger is fully satiated. However, while she continuously gets pregnant to satisfy this obsessive need, there are casualties of neglected, attention deprived older children.
There are women who continuously get pregnant to fill a void in their nondescript, empty lives. These women do not have outside interests and/or activities whether it is hobbies, jobs/careers, friends, and/or other intellectual pursuits. They feel worthwhile only as mothers. So they use incessant motherhood as a ruse to avoid finding more constructive ways to use their time and energy.
Needing to HAVE Children
Having Children is.......Preordained
There are still women who vehemently believe that the only function of sex is for procreation. To them, the idea that sex is also for pleasure is inherently, even morally reprehensible. They subscribe to the idea that sex should always result in having children and any other use for sex is lustful, even indulgent. They are of the school that sex is preordained for the purpose of having children.
They even believe that the act of using contraception to prevent pregnancies is an egregious violation of some type of preordained law. A subcategory of such women even consider contraception as a severe mortal transgression. As a result of having unprotected sex, there is a high likelihood of pregnancy. If their children are unplanned and/or unwanted, that does not matter to them in the least. Their attitude is whatever comes what may, nothing more, nothing less. There are women who declare that if they become pregnant, they will just have the child, being unconcerned about the negative impact of yet another child will have upon their existing children.
One MUST Multiply
Having Children Makes Me A......MAN
There are men who contend that the duty of women is to be barefoot and pregnant. These men portend that women are destined to be mothers, specifically mothers to as many children as possible. They further assert that it is their prerogative as men to have relations with their wives. It does not matter in the slightest whether their wives are interested or not. This is not their concern. If their wives become pregnant, so be it.
There are men who view having lots of children as a badge of honor. They actually measure their masculinity as the ability to sire as many children as possible. They maintain that it is the epitome of manliness to have large and/or very large families. In essence, the more children they have, the more macho they feel.
Children as BAROMETERS of Masculinity
I WANT Children, No Matter WHAT
There are parents who know that they cannot support a large family. However, this thought does not preclude them from having a large family. In fact, it is their intention to have a large family no matter what the negative consequences will be. They want that large family and no intelligent nor logical reasoning nor advice will deter them from reconsidering. They are going to have that large family for whatever reason they conjure. They find it totally futile to using planning and strategizing in order to have the number of children that they can reasonably afford. They are of the school that they will do as they please and to hell with the consequences.
Such parents believe that no matter how negative their familial environment will be, their children will adjust. This attitude is the height of being lackadaisical and even callous, if not irresponsible. Children function best, even thrive when their needs are meet and taken care of emotionally, psychologically, and most of all, socioeconomically. There is no way that parents of large families can effectively do these things for a large number of children. Children in large families oftentimes suffer in one way or another because their parents are incapable of providing for their children emotionally, financially, and psychologically.
I Want What I.......WANT
In conclusion, large families were fine in preurbanized, agrarian societies when children were needed to work the land and there were very few social networks outside the family. As societies became increasingly urbanized, there was less need for large families. Furthermore, in burgeoning urban societies, large families were starting to be seen as liabilities. With the advent of more advanced methods of contraception, broadening of women's options, and higher levels of education, people considered having small families and saw the detriments of large families.
Despite the advances of and widespread knowledge regarding contraception, there are people who insist on having large families. Many of them know the perils and detriments of having large families, especially upon the lives of their children. However, they are obsessed with the idea of the large families, not caring how negatively impacted their family life will be emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and particularly socioeconomically. Responsible parents have the amount of children that they can take care of emotionally, psychologically, and socioeconomically. Only parents who are irresponsible have more children than they can afford.
- The Large Family is Pathological, Part 1/2
Many decades ago, the large family was revered by society. Parents were praised for having lots of children. Psychologists and sociologists heaped emulations on parents that how beautiful and altruistic they were for bringing so many children into...
- The Large Family is Pathological, Part 2/2
I hope that this is going to be my last hub on the large family. We are all too familiar with the extreme megafamilies presented on cable television such as the Duggars and the Bates. The Duggars of Arkansas now have a total of NINETEEN children....
- Parents Who Have Megafamilies Are Putting Their Chi...
People often have children without thinking about its socioeconomic ramifications for their families. People who have large families often do not plan for their children's socioeconomic futures. People who have large families are often subjecting the
© 2012 Grace Marguerite Williams
Comments: the rule is to make logical, intelligent comments. Any comments disparaging small families & personal attacks therein will be......DELETED...
Tara on June 23, 2017:
I think that if you can afford and support your children through their lifetime, than you can have many children, but I also feel that if you can't support your family you shouldn't have many children. This is my opinion.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on July 13, 2016:
Quite welcome indeed. Only children don't have to be bereft of companionship. They can reach out to others & not be so insular. One doesn't need siblings to be happy or cared for. Other people care- there are friends & cousins. Cousins are wonderful people. Onlies just reach out. There is a beautiful world of people out there. Please note, there are siblings who AREN'T close & don't gave a damn about each other. They are only there when they NEED something. Family means people who love & care for each other. & ISN'T necessarily blood. Remember that!
Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on July 13, 2016:
Hi GM, I understand what you say about old-world, tribal thinking. In the Philippines, however, we would probably would not see it as a bad thing. Filipino families are very close. My friend is the most financially successful in her family of 7 other siblings, under a single parent. She has never complained that she supported some of them and some grandchildren, too. Yes, it is tribal because our cousins feel very close. We are a huge clan (imagine the offspring of 12 children) but we always know that when you are a Gaviola, your other cousins are there for you. We really feel like a tribe, and we love it.
On the other hand, I can understand your advocacy of small families. It does add weight to the budget. I knew a girl from the province who had 12 siblings, half of which died as babies, because when they were ill, there was no money for medicines. In the Philippines the Catholic church doesn't allow birth control which is weird because you can buy it in drug stores, so only those with money can access it and those without cannot. The government wants to give free birth control pills in government hospitals, but the church is against it. I also believe birth control should be accessible to the poor for free, and let them choose to use it or not. You would be very frustrated in the Philippines. But having lived here most of my adult life (I grew up the daughter of a diplomat), warts and all, one tends to love one's own.
Thank you, too, for your kind advice that my daughter is going to be okay. I am very reassured by that.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on July 13, 2016:
Don't worry, your child will be fine. Only children have interesting lives. They have friends, cousins, & if she is married, her husband & child(ren). One need not have siblings to have someone to be there in old age. There are PLENTY of people who have siblings yet the siblings AREN'T THERE for them in their old age. Get real! This thinking is atavistic, old world, tribal thinking which isn't relevant in this post-computer age. Large families are irresponsible & causes poverty which results in lack of educational & socioeconomic opportunity for children. I am a small family advocate. I have cousins who are comfort zones in my old age. I know plenty of people w/siblings who NEVER contact them unless they want something. I know a person w/siblings who weren't there at her funeral. They didn't care which this person revealed to me. So siblings mean nothing-friends & cousins do care & provide comfort. Your thinking is old-world, tribal thinking.
Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on July 13, 2016:
Large families aren't uncommon in the Philippines, but they're getting smaller. There were 12 children in my mom's family, and they were the greatest mentors the children could hope for. We are a family of six, and what I really miss, now that everyone has moved onward and have their own grandchildren, is the Christmas holidays when we would have such a big group of us together and have so much fun. Today, families are smaller. My sisters only have one or two children. It wasn't always by choice, but we are thankful for what we have. I just worry sometimes that having just one child, who will be there for her as she grows older? Because our sisters and brother are such a comfort zone for us in our old age.
Erin on July 07, 2016:
Clearly written by a smug, arrogant liberal. Your superior intelligence is dazzling.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on October 03, 2013:
Totally agree with you, justareader. There are some challenged parents who really refuse to acknowledge when enough is ENOUGH! It is not only selfish to have a large family, it is also THOUGHTLESS and IRRESPONSIBLE!
justareader on October 03, 2013:
I am quite happy stating that I have no desire to help a family in trouble that has more than two children. I don't mind tax dollars going to help a family of four when jobs are lost, but no more. When financial assistance is required for more than a family of four, let "the Lord provide" or make the parents work doing jobs such as cleaning roads. If "the Lord"decides when to close the womb, "the Lord" should be providing for the extra kids. Large families take up more resources yet get tax breaks. They eat more, excrete more, use more fuel and water, put extra weight on the roads, etc. And there is simply no reason for people to do more than replace themselves. How selfish to have more than two kids per family!
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on February 23, 2013:
Thank for your eloquent response, it is greatly appreciated. I have written more hubs on the subject if you are interested. Thank you so much for stopping by and responding.
Oldest Daughter on February 22, 2013:
I am the oldest of 7 kids. My parents foster parented and then adopted more kids as we grew up. Every child in this day and age needs more emotional care and attention. Unfortunately neither me or my siblings received that.
My parents used the kids to distract themselves of their miserable marriage. They distracted themselves from spending time to really figure out how to handle my adopted siblings' complex issues. They don't have time or energy to be proactive, just reactive. As the oldest, it's been extremely tough to watch the train wreck. It reminds me of how "orphaned" I felt in a large family.
Now we are in our 30's to 20's, none of us know how to be in a healthy relationship. I'm watching my adopted siblings failing to become adults because of the emotional baggage that my parents did not help them handle. And what do my parents do? They take on ANOTHER CHILD instead of taking care of their current ones (or themselves). It sucks.
Right now I'm focusing on re-parenting myself to be a well-adjusted adult. The only thing I can do is be an inspiration to my siblings. Maybe someday I'll be close to some of them. But the emotional intimacy in the family just isn't there, so we're all pretty disconnected (except when mom wants us together).
Large families are a bad idea in this day and age. Period.
D on February 02, 2013:
Interesting article that supports your point of view. Their opinions, although it offends many large family supporters, is supported by data.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on January 17, 2013:
Leanne, everyone has a right to his/her opinion. People should be free to disagree, after all, it is a democracy and disagreement is good for discourses in a civilized society. Thank you for stopping by and responding.
Leanne Smith from United Kingdom on January 17, 2013:
Great hub! I was definitely against your views when I began reading the post, but once listening to your thoughts I have begun to see a different perspective of the topic.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on October 27, 2012:
Again, thank you for your response. I have gotten quite a bit of flak for this hub. Well, whatever to each his/her own as long as our precious children are not neglected, harm, and/or hurt in the process. I am a strong proponent of responsible parenting. Children need the best that life has to offer, they should not suffer or be deprived at all!
Suzie from Carson City on October 27, 2012:
OK....great topic here! Did I hear someone say, "The Duggars??" LMAO Sorry for even mentioning the family of 24 people.......but I had to! They are soooo pathetic, but the truth is....they don't even know it. They think they're just WONDERFUL.... Oh well. It takes all kinds.
Although I raised 4 sons.....(2 per husband) I am a staunch proponent of "only children." It is clear to me at this point and time in our world, that one child is sufficient for most young couples......whether they can AFFORD more or not. Problem is, one can't seem to convince these couples of the positive aspects to only children.
Great work here, gm......you write very well and I might add, convincingly!..UP++
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on September 03, 2012:
Thank you, Magicfive. I have been studying family dynamics, birth order, and family size for decades.
MAGICFIVE from New York on September 03, 2012:
Well, I chose to have one child, and I must say, I LOVE the way it is working out! My husband and I both have lots of time for our daughter, AND for each other! All I can say, is that it's the best choice for me! This is a very interesting, well written, and well researched hub!
Olga on July 30, 2012:
Thank you for this well rounded post. (the macho father and she-rabbit mother is hilarious) Also the post of gmwilliams is spot on although it has carried along the note of serious looking down on the social status of large families ; I do not see if this is true in real life. An objection: Nobody ever on this earth is ever comfortable with poverty and want unless they are indoctrinated in a poverty cult or something. Even if and probably because they were raised in a large family. Children of large families are acutely conscious of the economic and social disadvantages of being poor in our competitive society and they probably develop an all-out struggle to improve their status even if this takes them a lifetime. So they rather envy privileged children than frown on their luxuries. Also may I add that many of the traits recounted in the analysis of gmwilliams could also be present in smaller families with two children when the parents have lost their jobs, have economic problems, only one parent is working and there is no financial security. Poor people should not have children then at all? Is it this not a wee bit racist?