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JLeslie's avatar

What do you think when someone is from a big family?

Asked by JLeslie (47974 points ) November 3rd, 2010

Do you have any immediate thoughts or judgements? Does it make a difference if you know the person/family, as opposed to someone you don’t know well, mentioning they have 7 kids, or 6 siblings?

To be clear, I am thinking a large nuclear family, so let’s say 6 or more children in the family.

Also, the assumption for this question is the parents are married, and all children are from the same parents.

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83 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Actually, I think they must have a lot of people to share good news with.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think it’s nice. I have one brother and always wanted more siblings. I only know a few people from families with 6 or more children.

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SundayKittens's avatar

I get jealous.

iamthemob's avatar

Unfortunately, I have to admit I make assumptions: (1) not well off, (2) religious, (3) undereducated.

BUT I’m more than willing to dismiss them quickly – or recognize that they don’t really have much bearing on the person per se. ;-)

SundayKittens's avatar

@noelleptc I totally pegged you for a fellow only!!!

diavolobella's avatar

I don’t think anything about it. I’m the youngest of a large family (7 kids) myself. I can tell you this though, apparently it makes some people assume you are Catholic. I got asked that constantly when I was a kid whenever the size of my family was mentioned.

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SundayKittens's avatar

@noelleptc AWOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
But really. I’m fascinated by big families.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I don’t think anything either way. Quantity does not equal quality, as well as one child can be special.

diavolobella's avatar

@iamthemob Do you think you make those assumptions because you are also assuming the number of children was unintentional?

MacBean's avatar

It never occurred to me to think anything of it at all… Hm.

iamthemob's avatar

@diavolobella – partially, yes. But that’s not a significant part of it. I would make the assumptions even given knowledge, prior to, of whether each and every one was intentional.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@iamthemob I’m curious, why would you think they are undereducated?

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diavolobella's avatar

@iamthemob Am I understanding you to say that you think people who choose to have large families are poor and uneducated? If so, why would you think that?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

The GA’s were for asking the education question.

SundayKittens's avatar

@noelleptc Hahaha yes! There’s a lady in my town exactly like that.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seaofclouds – most educated people tend to have smaller families. They also tend to get married later (although that trend has recently reversed), which ends up with a smaller family by default.

And it’s not really that I think they are – I make the unfortunate assumption, based on statistics…but am more than willing to be shown wrong. ;-)

@diavolobella – see above. The question was about assumptions, and I answered honestly. I do think that statistics show that most people who have more resources and eduction have less children. But that’s about statistics and not assumptions. And I don’t think that large families cause stupidity and poverty, if that’s what you’re asking. ;-)

wundayatta's avatar

I’m one of those people who wonders if the person is from a Catholic family, too. It seems to me that they usually are. I suppose in Utah, I might wonder if they are Mormon. The folks who don’t believe in birth control tend to have more kids.

I suppose a wealthy guy who could keep a wife at home and have her do nothing but child care might also have a big family, but that seems really creepy.

diavolobella's avatar

@iamthemob I see. I do think that the statistics you refer to are more recent though. In the time period in which I was born, large families were more commonplace, perhaps even more so among the wealthy and well educated.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@iamthemob What statistics were you referring to?

Cruiser's avatar

I think of epic fights…lots of wet towels in the bathroom, well worn hand-me-downs, and never enough milk in the fridge.

iamthemob's avatar

@diavolobella – you’re right. It often is the case that as a nation moves from a more industry to service based economy, then we see the fall in family size. I should be more specific – for people from families coming from the 70s and beyond, I make the assumptions. 60s and below and I’m less likely to make them.

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JustmeAman's avatar

My grandmother had 14 children, my mom being the eldest. My mother is still living and has 9 kids of her own, 57 grandchildren, 62 great grandchildren and many great great grand children.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@iamthemob Interesting. I’ve never seen statistics on it and I guess it’s because of my surroundings (living on a military post), but I’ve seen so many families with 4 and 5 children and the parents are pretty well educated, so I never realized that it was common for educated families to have fewer children.

iamthemob's avatar

@Seaofclouds – note that the OP was regarding 6+ kids.

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Seaofclouds's avatar

@iamthemob True. These woman are all still in the child-rearing years though, so they could have more. I know a few with 6, but 4–5 seems to be more of the average right now.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@iamthemob Here in Upstate NY we have lots of poor undereducated families, but very few that I can think of offhand have more than 4 to 5 kids. Our per capita income in this area is 85 percent of national average.

ucme's avatar

Goodnight John boy, goodnight….etc…etc…...

iamthemob's avatar

A lot of it comes from statistics on birth rates from industrial versus non-industrial nations (where much of the issue is a need to have more children as you are uncertain if any will survive). More children are also associated with economies that require children for labor. In modern times…look at the pew social research statistics.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Horny F@#$%^#. XD

iamthemob's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe – My family is from way upstate…but lets make this clear – you know that by comparing the family size among people at a certain income level you don’t get an impression of whether people at that income level have more or less children than those at another. You need to compare them. And, on average, across the world. the more children you have, the more likely it is to correlate with a low income. ;-)

I’m not attempting to prove that large families equal poor ones, by they way…

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@iamthemob Good point. I was thinking too narrowly.

iamthemob's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe – thanks for letting me clarify – I answered this question a little afraid that people were going to assume that I was going to argue that I was right for making assumptions. ;-) NO such thing.

JLeslie's avatar

@diavolobella every person I know from a large family is Catholic, except for one guy I met on an airplane on a flight, and my father-in-law, but he is Mexican and he is 70 years old, so different time different place, and maybe no birth control to speak of, and his family also is very religious. As I think about it, because of the cities I have lived in most of my life, it was just more likely if there was a big family they would be Catholic, and in cities typically people don’t have so many children. Maybe down in the bible belt you see large families more, and they are not Catholic? The guy on the plane was from the deep south. Or, out in the country? Typically though, I do think people are more likely to have large families if they are religious. The orthodox Jews have lots of kids also, which is what my father-in-law was by the way.

I generally think a big family is wonderful. As long as the parents are happy with the choice, and don’t feel overwhelmed and continue to have kids they can’t handle or afford. But, my first thoughts are positive ones.

It is a fact that generally in societies as people become more prosperous families get smaller. Back in the day it was a good thing to have lots of children to help work the farm. After industrialization it was less practical, putting a strain on the family financially, and people lived in cities, in smaller housing, and the parents had to leave to work, rather than the family being together on the farm.

I guess there might be a correlation between education level, religiousity, and some other things that impact some of the statistics associated with large families.

JLeslie's avatar

I was going to add that many people consider 4 kids to be a large family and unusual these days, so if 4 or 5 is a lot to you, then you impression of a family with 4 kids counts.

ucme's avatar

I may break out a few bars of Crazy Horses :¬)

jonsblond's avatar

@wundayatta Having a wife at home doing nothing but childcare is creepy to you? Since when is taking care of children and family nothing. You make it sound as though a stay at home wife is leading an unfulfilled life. All this nothing that I have done the past 11 years has resulted in two teenage sons with a 4.0 and a 6 year old daughter that loves to read and is on her way to being just as smart as her brothers. Oh yeah, they also know they are loved and have a mom that is always there for them. There’s nothing wrong with it, imo, and I find nothing creepy about it. It bothers me that people think this way. sigh

I’m jealous of large families like this. I would love to have more than three children, but we can’t afford it. Parenting my children gives me the greatest joy I’ve ever felt. I come from a “Brady Bunch” family, my father had two children from a previous marriage and my mother had three when they met, then I was born. Having four sisters and a brother was an amazing experience. My best friend came from a family of six also. They were the most fun and loving family that I have met.

crisw's avatar

I think it’s a hugely selfish way to consume Earth’s resources.

diavolobella's avatar

@JLeslie I just remember it used to take me aback that the first blurted response from someone, on learning about the size of my family, was “Wow, are you Catholic?” Especially when they were pretty much a perfect stranger. I was always tempted to say NYOB.

The interesting part [which I purposely did not mention immediately] is that my mother is, in fact, Catholic. My father was not, but he did become one in the last years of his life. I personally am agnostic and do not believe in organized religion. I only have two children, but if I could have afforded to have more, I would have. Not 7 though. :) My father was also military, so it’s interesting that aspect has come up as well. My parents were well enough off to put all of us through college on their own dime, without utilizing student loans or financial aid, although two did receive academic scholarships (one a full ride to William & Mary)

JustmeAman's avatar

Our family is from Utah and most are Mormon. You ought to see when we have a large family get together. Cousins and the like, last time there were over 600 there and I didn’t know most of them. My family is all over Salt Lake City and other cities around it. We have Doctors, Lawyers and many educated in the family. My son when he was in Jr High was tutoring students in the local college in Calculus so the statistics don’t hold for my family.

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Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@crisw On the resource side, 6 kids living in a third world country consume a lot fewer resources than 2 kids in the US.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

That their parents enjoy sex without a condom.

jonsblond's avatar

@noelleptc Thank you sweetie! I’d stay and chat, but I have nothing to do. ;)

crisw's avatar

Oh, and I also worry about Quiverful lunatics.

crisw's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe

This question asked about families that I see. I am in the US, therefore I am discussing families in the US.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@crisw Got it. That I would agree with.

JLeslie's avatar

@diavolobella I was one of those people, first question, “are you Catholic?” why does it matter if you are? And indeed your mom is. I went to college in MI, lots of Catholics there, and indeed, many have 4 and 5 children. None of my friends, but several of their friends. My most religious friend has her children in Catholic school, and she feels bad she did not have more sometimes, she has two kids, she has one of the smallest families among her close peers from the school. She herself is from a 6 children family, has a brother with 6 kids, and other siblings have 2 or 3, except for one brother has none. I grew up with girl who had 9 siblings, Catholic. My boyfriend in high school 1 of 5, Catholic.

JLeslie's avatar

@diavolobella what aspect were you referring to?

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diavolobella's avatar

@JLeslie I was referring to @Seaofclouds comment that they see more large families on the military base where they live.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond I love hearing that you love being a mommy, I told the same thing to @redpowerlady recently. I vividly remember my mom one day talking with some women on our block, and they were saying how awesome college was, their favorite time in life, and my mom said having children has been her favorite time. I was close enough to hear her say that, and it made me sooooo happy! I was maybe 9 or 10 at the time.

diavolobella's avatar

@jonsblond kudos to you. I stayed at home with my children from birth until they were both in school and I loved it more than anything. Most important and most rewarding job I ever had.

JLeslie's avatar

@diavolobella oh, I missed that comment. Well, most military wives don’t work, I wonder if that is part of the reason? And enlisted men tend to be from lower socio-economic situations formerly, to go with that stereotype. But I am just guessing. I also think some of the large family phenomena has to do with doing what others around you are doing, it kind of feeds on itself. Creating a “norm” within individual communities.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Her’s a bow to the stay at home moms. We chose to not have children and then took care of nephews and nieces for weekends, holidays etc. Holy shit, it’s exhausting. I’ve worked two jobs and not been as worn out.

diavolobella's avatar

@JLeslie Every military wife I know is employed, but most were not back in my mother’s day. I think the days when they did not work are long gone by. Back then everyone was housed on post, but now they don’t have enough housing, so they live in the community and usually have to work for their family to get by. We also attended school on post, but now the kids attend public schools. Military pay hasn’t kept up with the increase in the cost of living since my dad was in the Army [he retired in 1980]. I think back in the day the fact that housing was provided, along with health care and education, contributed to larger military families. It’s probably true though, that some enlisted men are from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Those who join that are not typically have college educations and go through OCS

JLeslie's avatar

@diavolobella I meant those who live on post, but some still work anyway. When a family is being moved every couple of years it isn’t easy for the spouse to have a career, although she might work at times. This is part of the reason the military gives extra money for dependents, and moves everything on the governments dime when transferred. Probably your parents would have had many children whether you dad was in the service or not. I don’t know how old you are, the military mix is different throughout history, especially during times of the draft. I think today’s military and family size might be more of a function of the cultural norms in the communities they came from. Well, maybe for your parents too? My dad was military, but not armed forces, and he went in as an officer with a college education.

diavolobella's avatar

@JLeslie Actually, so many military wives work in the city where I live (and specifically in my career field) that it has created a unique problem. None of them need health insurance, so employers there use that as a reason not to provide it. It creates a real hardship for those who aren’t military. That’s one reason I work in Nashville, instead of my city. Here it is a standard benefit, but where I live, you can’t find a law firm that offers health insurance.

JLeslie's avatar

@diavolobella interesting.

I am outside of Memphis by the way.

DominicX's avatar

I think of the Duggars (and they make me want to throw up).

No, but seriously, I don’t really have any assumptions about large families. I only knew one girl at school from a large family (7 siblings) and her family was as normal as ever except for the fact that they had 8 kids. In this day and age, there are some people that actually think I have a “large family” because I have 3 siblings…

diavolobella's avatar

@JLeslie Both my parents are from Memphis. I have lots of family who still live there. My brother has a radio show on a local station.

wundayatta's avatar

@jonsblond It’s not the part about the woman staying home that I find creepy. It’s the part where a guy deliberately sets out to find a woman he can dominate that I find creepy. I’m not talking about relationships with fairly equal power relationships. I’m talking about a guy who doesn’t really want an equal. That’s creepy.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t really care that much, but I assume they’re either one or many of these:
Very religious
Catholic
Didn’t have much money growing up
Have old-fashioned values: Where the woman is a housewife and the man is the breadwinner.

john65pennington's avatar

Somebody forgot to use birth control.

That someone did not ask to be born, so they are still a friend to me.

JLeslie's avatar

@john65pennington I don’t understand your answer.

perg's avatar

@JLeslie Going back to your comment about 12 up (dang, I wish these were numbered), in which you mention enlisted/low income status as a stereotypical factor in large families: FWIW, @diavolobella‘s and my dad was an officer. He did come from a poor family, but had only three siblings (the same for our mom). And to the best of my recollection, we knew very few other military families with more than four kids. In high school, I had classmates from (non-military) families of 16 and 17 children; I believe one was Mormon and the other was Seventh-Day Adventist, if that has anything to do with it.

I’m not quite sure what I’m getting at except that I hate stereotypes…

JLeslie's avatar

@perg A couple of things. First stats and generalization certainly do not mean a whole group is one way. Second, I do not think for example most Catholics have large families, I think the opposite, but if a family is large, I think statistically they are likely to be Catholic, two different things. The families you site that had many many children, sounds like they are very religious, I said pretty much the very religious are probably more likely to have more children, but again I don’t think most religious people have 6 kids, most families in America have 1,2, or 3.

JLeslie's avatar

@perq also, why does it matter if these things are statistically true? A stereotype does not have to be negative. I don’t have negative feelings about large families at all, I said I think it is wonderful. Seems Catholic, Mormon, religious, military all kind of fit ironically, going along with some of the stereotypes. A generalization about the group I belong to is we go to college more often than the average. Generalizations can be good and bad, they are just statistical facts, and we can never, or should never make an assumption about an individual just based on stats.

perg's avatar

@JLeslie Sorry, I’m not trying to say it’s negative. I’m honestly not quite sure what I was trying to say except maybe our particular situation, apart from being a Catholic family, is different from what was being described as typical/stereotypical by a few folks here. I just seized on your remark because @diavolobella hadn’t addressed that part of it.

I do have to say that I’m waiting for someone to provide the actual statistics that support the notion that large families tend to be… anything. The only stats I could find on family size were basic Census figures that didn’t go into that kind of detail.

JLeslie's avatar

@perg Fair enough, asking for actual stats is certainly reasonable. I’ll have to search a little later today when I have time. My stereotypes were based on my own experience, although the stats on poverty is an actual stat I learned, it related to averages in countries if I remember correctly, the wealthier the country the fewer children per family. Something like that.

flutherother's avatar

My grandparents on my father’s side were not Catholic and had 11 children. That was not at all unusual at that time and not all children survived in those days. The next generation mostly had two or three children.

flo's avatar

I make no assumptions whatsoever. But if you are talking about the immediate picture that comes to mind, it is “married the usual the parents are married, and all children are from the same parents.”

tranquilsea's avatar

I am one of six children. My mom was not religious nor was she stupid…far from it in fact I don’t know whether I would classify her as under-educated either. She had six children for a couple of obvious reasons and many more not so obvious ones. Firstly, she was an only child who was orphaned at 11 (her mother had been in the hospital since she was 4, her father was killed in WWII). That had a big impact on her. Secondly, the first five of us are girls and she really wanted a boy because my father is a complicated guy who couldn’t seem to pay attention to us and constantly wished for a boy. She kept going until they had a boy.

People used to assume we were religious or that we came from a farm. Often “they” settled on joking that we mustn’t have a tv.

My childhood was loud and there were many fights and an equal number of reconciliations. I have always had someone to talk to. I went through a period in my teenage years where I had been ostracized by my so-called peers at school. I had my sisters at home and that made that period bearable.

I have a hard time imaging what quiet is as I have rarely experienced it.

JLeslie's avatar

I guess maybe we should exclude the generation who would be 90–100 years old or older now as parents if they were/are living, because birth control was not readily available I would think. Although my maternal grandma did wait 5 years, and planned her 2 children, she would be 92 today, but she had more access to information I think. She did have a college degree she earned immediately after high school. She also did live in the city, none of her girlfriends had more than 3 children.

Akua's avatar

When people tell me they are from a large family I am honestly a bit (very) jealous. They must have loads of fun together and holidays at their house must be like a parade!

wilma's avatar

I am from a large family, but not nearly as large as some of the kids I went to school with.
There were three families with 15 kids each, one with 14 and one with 12, three with 10, four with 8 and that made mine and all the others with just 6 look pretty puny. By the way, I only had 100 kids in my graduating class.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

That they’ll find it easier to enjoy a relationship since they’re used to sharing, compromising, tolerating, etc.
That they are probably used to a lot of love.

YARNLADY's avatar

I think it is fascinating. I always wonder how the family dynamics function? My Dad was one of 5 boys, and they all lived within walking distance of our house when I was growing up. None of the brothers had more than for children of their own, but when we all got together, it was a whole lot of fun.

chinchin31's avatar

I think they probably never really feel lonely. If they come from a happy family that is. I often wish I was. Everyone I know from a big family always seems to be so happy. I get a bit jealous when they always have photos on facebook of family get togethers. It makes me sad. Because my family is very broken up and full of drama. I actually try to avoid most of my family at all costs.
But I guess the grass always seems greener. You could be from a large dysfunctional controlling family that you can never escape .

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