Thoughts on Large Families for our ‘Tolerant’ Modern Society


Large families are an anomaly

Large families need an advocate in modern society.

A prompt on a health website asked,

“Are you an advocate for any cause?”

I sputtered to my self,

“I am not an advocate for anything or anybody!”

Immediately after that statement, a new idea popped into my mind,

“Hey, wait a minute. I stand up for large families in modern society!”

In my experience as a mother of nine children, I have met more condemnation than acceptance and more questions that understanding. Perhaps it is because I do not look like the mother of a large family. I am tiny, look younger than my age and all my life people have labelled me as cute. So people’s first reaction to me is shock. Confusion follows because I am happy. Now a joyful, cute, tiny mother of nine simply baffles people. I shatter all their preconceived notions. The typical image of a multi-para woman would be a large, matronly, robust, grim, battle-axe of a mother, efficiently marshaling her young charges with little time to coddle or love the poor deprived dears.

Parents with two children cannot fathom how a mother of a large family manages to cope with all the work necessary to keep up a home as well as have enough time to love each child. However, more children are easier than less. In a large family, a seven-year old will repeatedly read the same book to a toddler who loves one particular book. A ten-year old feels important when he can help his six-year old brother who struggles with reading. A young teenager delights in rocking a tiny, dependant infant to sleep.

For me, family started with three because then community started. A community works and plays together and for little children work is as fun as play. I included everyone in ordinary household chores and made chores fun. A trained Montessorian once declared that I ran my home like a Montessori school. What a wonderful confirmation that was for me. My kids were not deprived because I usually could not sit and play with them in the traditional sense. Instead they received an expensive, educational experience simply because I integrated them into the running of our home.

It was never too soon to give one of my toddlers a job such as picking up the toys his younger sibling drops from the high chair.The secret was to delegate, each according to his or her talents, but never to order them around like they were in the army. They chopped wood, helped fix the car, weeded the garden and took care of the animals. If teenagers are still treated like kids or overindulged, they don’t have a purpose and become really angry. When parents appreciate their kids contributions, their confidence blossoms and matures.

Employers love my kids because they know how to work and do not take anything for granted. Many have said,

“I will give anybody with the last name Juneau a job.”

Large families strengthen the basic foundations of our society. They live lives of greater interconnectedness. If you don’t have a lot of money, you’re not an island unto yourself. You learn how to share and barter both skills and things with others. My children who go to college or university, adapt well to communal life in a dorm or a shared house. Just imagine, they already know how to share a bathroom with a lot of other people. They know how to get along with opposite personalities, how to give and take. For starters, they know how to cook and clean up after themselves.

Healthy, large families benefit society. So open your mind and heart the next time you see or hear of one. The condemnation is really hard to handle and totally unjust in a society that loves to call itself open-minded and tolerant.

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15 thoughts on “Thoughts on Large Families for our ‘Tolerant’ Modern Society

  1. Hi Melanie,

    An excellent article indeed from our esteemed writer and eminent mother of nine!

    The family as a social unit (of analysis) is actually a vast and complicated topic. Therefore, in the limited space here, SoundEagle would just like to add that your article would be even more compelling if it could address not just straightforward discrimination or misunderstanding already mentioned, but also both the pros and cons of large families in modern societies, as well as their feasibility and sustainability, on the social and the socio-demographic scales, not just on the family/individual scale, and then their external validities, so as to include the socio-economic and the socio-environmental scales.

    Well done!

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    1. ummm…. well we were sustainable because we chose to move out into the country and raise our own meat, eggs, vegetables and berries. We bartered skills, traded, reused, remade and made do. So we were very enviromentally friendly

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  2. I don’t much understand the condemnation for large families either. If I ponder it a bit, I think today there is so much emphasis on “overpopulation” that people are now under the misconception that there is not enough room on the planet for people, which I think is absurd. I am hearing this now more in the past few months than I ever have before. I talked with a woman not long ago who thinks overpopulation leads to poverty and abortion is the answer to keep population down. This is what they are doing in China, mostly with girls, which has lead to not enough brides for their bachelors. What a silly mess we get into when we don’t consider God and His sovereignty. Great post! I’m sold on large families! My mother is from a family of 7! 🙂 I admire their love for one another! The family had their problems but grandma taught unconditional love.

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  3. Recently, after he found out I had nine children, a doctor asked me if my husband and I were insane. He asked me twice because he couldn’t believe it. I told him, “maybe”. 🙂 But then I also told him that we love it and my nine year old daughter whom he was treating was a good example of a happy kid.

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    1. Actually, it is already the 9th day of the 9th month here, according to the time zone where SoundEagle lives.

      Therefore, SoundEagle would like to greet both Melanie and Mithriluna, both mothers of nine, with nine degrees of happiness on the 9th day of the 9th month of 2013!

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  4. Melanie you know you don’t have to sell this idea to me, I agree with everything you said and my Mum of nine is a tiny, cute and positive individual too, she said staying involved with family and keeping up with what we are all up to keeps her young in the mind.

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