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longtresses's avatar

What's it like growing up in a large family, raised mostly by siblings?

Asked by longtresses (1327 points ) June 28th, 2011

What is it like growing up in a large family, with elderly parents, and consequently raised mostly by older siblings? Say, you have 4–18 siblings and you’re one of the middle children?

I imagine growing up would be completely opposite of being an only child—e.g. you didn’t get as much attention, you weren’t demanding, you were confused, you didn’t enjoy being at home, you were very close to your siblings, etc. Anyway, would love to hear your story.

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15 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

Like a pack of dogs. Knowing what it takes to handle just 2 boys I have asked my mom how in the h@ll she raised 5 kids and her reply was “I didn’t…you guys did. Apparently we did most of the heavy lifting all those years.

tranquilsea's avatar

I’m number 3 of 6. We were all close growing up. The downside was that you couldn’t do anything without someone knowing about it. Everyone had an opinion too. The upside was that you had 5 sibling to blame something on. That’s something an only child can’t do lol.

You had to learn to develop a voice because it was so loud. Some us did and others didn’t.

The concept of quiet was foreign to me.

Today, we all go through times when we are pissed at one of the sisters but there is always one sister that you can talk to. I’m glad I have 4 sisters and and brother.

I’ve often wondered just much we messed up my brother, who was the baby of the family

dannyc's avatar

You mature quickly, learn to share, and cooperate or there is chaos. We were 10 in the family. Selfishness becomes non-existent and being spoiled is impossible. You become a survivor and ahead of your peers in life skills. I was the 4th child and mastered diplomacy at an early age.

SuperMouse's avatar

I am 4 of 6 and after our mother died when my youngest sister was only 2, I was kind of a mini-mom to her. I love my sister and I have a closer
connection with her than
anyone other than my
husband, but it was a tough
row to hoe. As she got older
and started doing the things
teens do, I found myself
shouldering a lot of the burden
of watching out for her without
any authority to actually do
anything about it. My sister is
an incredibly smart woman so
even with a couple of bumps in
the road she has a very
happy life now. I also found it
tough re-negotiating our
relationship to be sisters
after she had outgrown her
need for me as a mother
figure. We did it though and
she is my best friend.—Again
aside from my husband.—

A story I love to share is of talking to her one day when she was around 7. I asked if she was her doll’s mother she said “No I’m her 16 year-old sister.” I still tear up a little writing that!

Hibernate's avatar

I wouldn’t know since I was the first born . Though I needed to help out my brother a lot even if we were different .

But when I read @dannyc ‘s response then I understand how one is supposed to feel .

AshLeigh's avatar

I’m the youngest of five, and my father was abusive.
So, my mother did her best, but it’s hard to raise five children from the floor, where you’ve been thrown.
My borther is only three years older than I am, but he raised me, after my sisters left.

chewhorse's avatar

It’s terrible for the youngers because they get it (orders) frrom all sides. I had an aunt and uncle who sported eight kids and it was dysfunctional to say the least.. A wonderful experience to watch from a distance but not something that you would want to get into the eye of. Having to share hand me downs.. Not exclusively but selectively as other clothes would be new but the very idea of having to wear your big brother’s jeans after he grew out of would take the new right out of your mind.

Bellatrix's avatar

I am 4 of 5 but because there was a big gap between my older siblings and me and my younger sister, it was a bit like two families. I think we got away with a lot more than our older siblings did and because my mum died when I was young, my older sister had to take on the huge responsibility of making sure I got to school, my older brother went to school and the shopping and things were done. It was tough on her but my dad didn’t have much choice. She did a good job though.

SuperMouse's avatar

@chewhorse my grandmother used to say my youngest sister had five bosses.

longtresses's avatar

@tranquilsea “You had to learn to develop a voice because it was so loud. Some us did and others didn’t.”

Does it mean that some of you keep it all inside or have difficulty being spontaneous or expressive?

chewhorse's avatar

I should like to add something about their future that (unfortunately) the only child can’t fully experience and that’s family reunions.. A group now the size of two football teams gathering together in a park playing games, eating home made food, lazing about and reminscing about the ‘good old’ days.. Priceless.

Pandora's avatar

I was number 5 out of 5. I don’t remember my siblings raising me. Both my parents where heavily involved in our lives. You learn quickly that law is law in the home. My parents didn’t fool around by letting us get away with things because we were so cute when we did it. We were not spoiled and had to learn to share or lose what we had. However, being with siblings did come with perks. It was us against the parents every once in a while. Not in a bad way. Just if we wanted to break some minor rules, we usually had the assistance to do so. Except my elder sister. She would usually not go along with our schemes. We did learn to push boundries though. LOL
But over all we kept each other busy and I remember always being slow to get ready for school and my sister having to try to dress me to help my mother out. Things also happened like a school lunch line order. Get up, get dressed, get breakfast, or get in line at the bathroom. (1 bathroom). Then my mother would be in the bathroom with a wet face cloth as we went in 1 by one. She would wipe faces and neck, look over our uniforms and inspect our hands and comb our hair, and then go to brush our teeth, as we brushed the next kid would come in. She had it down to a science. In less than 55 minutes we were all out the door at the same time. I remember waking up by 8 and being at school by 9. School was only across the street but we all went together. After school, it was come home, have a snack. Relax watching tv, than begin on homework and have it done by dinner. Dinner was always the same time every day except Sundays (it was 2 hour early because my mom would press out our uniforms for all of us for the week.) On weekends my sister would take care of my hair and clothing. Having older siblings was great for homework help since my mom would be busy getting things ready for the next day. But she would still occasionally check up on our work to make sure it was all done.
Mostly siblings were great for the daily interaction and what @dannyc mentioned.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

My best friend in school was from a family of 9 kids, father deceased, mother working constantly. There was no raising going on there. Like @Cruiser said, a pack of dogs. When I was at her house, we just tried not to get hit with flying objects and stayed in the house as little as possible. There was never anything edible in the house. One time she snuck two cans of food out of the locked cabinet and hid them in the basement. We snuck down there in the night to eat them and guess what – it was a can of pears and a can of saurkraut. Yummy!

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