General Question

cdwccrn's avatar

How many children can one person safely raise alone?

Asked by cdwccrn (3600points) February 7th, 2009 from iPhone

Two? Four? Six? More? One person has two eyes, ears, hands, feet-at best. Licensed childcare providers are limited as far as how many children per adult. For a reason: safety.

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19 Answers

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I’m a bit confused, cdwccrn. When you say “raise” are you referring to “parent” or “child mind” and is in provide daycare for?

poofandmook's avatar

you know, that’s a good point. How is it that a child care provider has a limit according to the license, but one parent could have 10 kids and nobody would blink an eye? It doesn’t make it any more safe just because it’s the parent

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Child care has limits because you are paying for a service and have a commercial arrangement for services. Usually the children are all close in age. In your own family, unless you have multiple births, the ages of children are spread out, with degrees of independence and self-reliance.

If this question is tied to the woman with the octuplets, I think she needs to stand a competency hearing, since she already has 6 children, and no means of support.

cdwccrn's avatar

I am referring to raising, as in custodial parenting alone. The question is borne out of concern for the safety of the kids with one person raising 14 children, all under 8 years of age, some with special needs.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t think it is possible generalize. Does the parent have plenty of money to hire help? Does the parent have a large extended family or church community that will step in to offer support?

I especially would not want to have such a thing legislated.

Obviously, in this high profile case, child protective services will be monitoring the situation.

cdwccrn's avatar

I hope so…

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I think child protective services will probably be called in. My neighbors had in vitro and it cost them over $30,000, with insurance not paying for any of it. The fact that her motivation for conceiving from a sperm donor to have “just one more girl” as her mother said in an interview, makes one wonder about her mental capacity. Apparently all of her children were conceived by assisted fertilization. In addition to living with her parents, she recently declared bankruptcy. She does have an undergraduate degree in adolescent counseling, and was in graduate school.

The New York Times article raises the question whether having multiple births will become a source of revenue for people. What about the ethicality of the fertility specialists implanting so many faetuses in someone with no means of support? Her ex-husband was not the father of any of her children.

marinelife's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock Your point about the doctors seems very valid to me. There is some culpability there.

Also, we as a society, probably need to catch up regulation-wise with these new technologies.

Darwin's avatar

@AlfredaPrufrock – actually it was her mother (aka grandmother of 14) who declared bankruptcy and then failed to show up in court over it, not the mother of 14.

And I had understood that the father of her children was a friend and neighbor who actually asked her not to implant the rest of the embryos.

I also understand that the original doctor who implanted the embryos is under investigation. At the least he will be thrown out of various medical professional societies.

galileogirl's avatar

I have known people who were unable to raise a goldfish safely. Lillian Gilbreth supported her 12 children without govt aid and raised them to be successful adults. It all depends on the individual. In the case of the mother of 14, there’s no way. The era when human litters brought a lot of financial support is past. It really only happened when the family had a vast friends and family support group. The corporations who donated diapers, formula etc in the past only did it for association with an ‘all-American’ image. Nobody wants to be associated with an obsessive unwed mother who doesn’t seem to have a clue about what happens after the first 9 mos.

Actually the only people making money from their large families are Jon and Kate (and people only watch them because one day Jon will flip out and pop her in the nose-guaranteed) and that 18 kid Mormon family (just to see how many she’ll have before her uteros falls out). America loves a good freak show, and even with the TV money, they will never be rich.

So this pregnophile will receive some attention but I clearly see social services in their future.

Jack79's avatar

I’ve always said that 2 is the absolute maximum, and that is only if you also have 2 hands. People with 1 hand can raise a maximum of 1.

The number could theoretically be higher if some of the kids have grown enough to take care of the other ones, which is how families with 12 kids manage. You raise the first couple, then they help raise the next ones, while you have to deal with a different set of issues as they grow and generally keep the balance.

In practice, I have often turned my house into a playground. My daughter will play with many kids her age, but I can not take care of more than 2 (her +1 more) at a time, unless I have Mike along. Mike is her best friend and he is 10, so he actually helps me out. I even have a problem if it’s him and his sister (aged 7) and my niece (aged 2). Mike counts as an adult in my equasion, but it’s still too hard to safely look after the 3 girls, mainly because his sister is a high-maintenance attention seeker. But I could easily take care of him and the 2 little ones, even on a permanent basis.

When I had to deal with my daughter and my girlfriend’s daughter (both aged just under 4) it was fairly easy, at least for a couple of days. But whenever she tried it, they drove her nuts within the hour. So 2 is really the limit.

aidje's avatar

Are we talking about how many can be raised without danger of an uprising?

Darwin's avatar

My brother says any more than two and you are outnumbered and thus doomed. He said this first when he had three children.

Now due to various oddities of remarriage, poor choices on the part of children old enough to reproduce, and borrowed children, he and his wife have have anywhere from 1 to 10 children in residence at any given time and often have several extra college kids around the house playing Guitar Hero, as well as assorted granddogs and grandcats that sometimes visit for weeks at a time.

As long as there is food and the Wii is working there have been no uprisings. Marx said religion is the opiate of the masses, but it looks as though video games have taken on that role today.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@galileogirl, Lillian Gilbreth raised 12 children with an age span of roughly 20 years between the oldest and the youngest. She had children in college when her husband died, and live-in help. She was not looking at 14 children under the age of 7, including a set of twins and octuplets.

I personally know two stories that come close to this. A guy that worked on my deck was 21 and had 7 children under the age of 5. His girlfriend got pregnant at 15, had twins, got pregnant again at 17, had triplets, got pregnant again at 20 and had another set of twins. They were natural multiples. I had heard about the mom when I was pregnant with my daughter; my gynecologist took care of her as a pro bono patient. The family was living in a house with no heat, water or electricity. He wanted to take the pressure treated lumber scraps from the deck to burn in the fireplace in the house.

The other was person I used to work with. They had difficulty conceiving their first child, so his wife went on fertility medication, and was carrying quintuplets. One died before birth and she delivered four. He had 5 children under the age of 5. They ended up divorcing, and his wife is living with her parents so she can have help with the children.

galileogirl's avatar

The live-in help does chores, not raise children. Anyway, Al, the point was she was the opposite of the birth machine in the news in resources and probable outcome. It’s not a competition but if it were, birth machine would fall flat on her face.

It is obvious, by her own words, this woman has mental problems. If her eccentricity was keeping dozens of cats, filling her home to the ceiling with clutter or showering every hour, there would be no doubt that everyone would recognize the need to change her behavior and no Dr would encourage her to continue. In those cases she would really only be a danger to herself. But when it comes to having children, mental illness and sheer stupidity are secondary to ‘the miracle of birth’.

In the 1st instance you mention, it seems like the community is enabling their behavior and they haven’t ‘closed up shop’ so they could end up with more than a dozen. Also, I’ll bet the toxic wood fuel was owned by someone else. Those children will end up raising themselves at our expense. Love does NOT conquer all.

As far as fertility treatments, reputable Drs no longer implant large numbers of eggs because of the danger to both mother and children. While all the babies have been reported to be healthy that doesn’t mean they will not have deficits. Cerebral palsy is the condition that occurs most often in multiples due to overcrowding and lack of oxygen. It can cause death, mental retardation, blindness or anything connected with brain damage. Knowing that she was setting her own children up for disabilities just because she could is unconscionable.

Michael Jackson only dangled one baby out the window, what the birth machine and her Dr did was the equivalent to dangling 8 babies all at once.

jellyfish's avatar

I am single mum and raised/raising four children – one is just 18. three was a breeze but 4 is exhausting and tho i love them I never planned to divorce both husbands and care for them on my own – so i say 3 is the limit

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

quite a few, if you’ve got a fork lift. there were enough real answers, this needed a light hearted quip

EmpressPixie's avatar

@galileogirl @AlfredaPrufrock Lurve for both of you for discussing the real life Cheaper by the Dozen (if only because we were discussing that family yesterday at home)

lisaj89's avatar

Not 14! i.e.Octomom!

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