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What's it like to be a child in a large family?
57

Cloudminnow · 10/02/2012 16:52

Has anyone been a DC within a large family? What's it like? Did it make you want to have lots of your own DCs or did it make you choose to have a smaller family?

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tardisjumper · 10/02/2012 17:03

I am one of three, so not massive at all. But we are part of a v large exteneded family. We have numerous sets of cousins who are one of three, four, or more in blended families.

The pros: Not so much obsessive 'rearing'.
Soemone to help when parents get old
not as much pressure

The cons:
You do get ignored
If you are different it shows and treating people differently shows
If you are eldest you inevitably get raised in a house of small children which I found trying (though I have always been v tolerant of small children even if I am not that 'fond' of them)
You are often expected to look after said children but are not a 'parent'
My parents both worked full time in professional jobs in London. They earned phenomenol amounts of money but it all went on houses that were big enough to house us all and nannies and then eventually helping us through uni. There is nothing left.

I want two children. I don't think we will be able to ever afford our own home if we have three.

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slug · 10/02/2012 17:21

I am one of double figures.

We all have very small families ourselves. The largest number is 3, and in each of those families, I know that at least one of the children was unplanned. I think this is very telling.

Pros
You learn how to get along or at least stay out of sight
You become very independant
Parenthood is not a shock to the system because you've been caring for babies since you were small
You learn that money isn't the cure for anything and how to get along on very little.

Cons
Where to start? With the best will in the world, my parents and the parents of all the large families I know simply can't give very much individual attention to anyone. Essentially I brought myself up and was responsible for parenting my younger siblings.
Children can hunt in packs. They gang up on each other and are ruthless with the weak.
The constant noise, the constant fighting, the crowd, the bickering etc can impact greatly on your sense of self.
You are never the best at anything, there's always someone else who can outshine you.
People outside the family can forget your name. Don't laugh, I spent much of my school years being addressed by my elder sister's name because by the time I hit the school, so many of us had gone through that the teachers gave up trying to distinguish us from each other.
You are never an individual. To take the education example again, my elder sisters are very good artists. It was assumed that as a girl of the same family I would be too. Every year I had the experience of being called to the front of the class, being handed a piece of chalk and being expected to draw something because "we were all so talented". I can't draw a straight line without a ruler but I'm a whiz at maths. Unfortunately my siblings aren't so I was always automatically put in the lower groups.

I don't want to put a downer on any Walton's Family hopes and dreams, but I found the experience of growing up in a large family horrific. I get on with (most) of my siblings, but I live half the world away and speak to them, at best, once a year. We are all a bit like that. It's not something I would willingly inflict on anyone I loved.

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dontforget2scream · 10/02/2012 17:24

I'm one of seven children. Life was noisy, fun, interesting (someone was always in trouble for something!) and I always felt very safe (I had so many people around to stick up for me). As a child, other people's houses seemed very quiet and dull. I had to do alot for myself and was gobsmacked when friends said their parents cleaned their rooms, made their packed lunches for them etc.

However, Mum and Dad spent an awful lot of time sorting out sibling disagreements. Mum was always knee deep in household stuff and didn't have much energy left for 'quality time'. Dad never got to sit down either (constantly driving children to various activities). Raising so many children has cost them alot financially and they have barely any savings for their retirement.

In terms of attention I didn't do too badly (one of only two girls and academically able) but some of my middle brothers were sort of overlooked.

I have one DD and I am agonising over whether or not to have another. I always said I would only have one. I always felt my mum was having another child because we weren't "enough".

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Correctmeifiamwrong · 10/02/2012 17:29

If you are one of the last/later children... Rubbish!

I have one fuzzy photo of me as a baby. My siblings have hundreds.
Nothing I achieved was greeted with anything more than a reference to what one of the others had done.
I had 3 siblings which were teenagers when I was at primary - they took up all my parents time and energy.
I was never allowed to clubs or friends houses to play as there was 'no-one to take me.
Parents were always exhausted, so didn't play with me.
I never got a word in edgeways (same now)
Was expected to be self-sufficient, so had to deal with bogey-men, loo monsters and ghosts by myself.
Never for a hug or kiss from parents.
Bullied by siblings and told to 'get on with it' by parents .

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dontforget2scream · 10/02/2012 17:30

Oh, 5 out of the 7 of us do not have any children at all.

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Correctmeifiamwrong · 10/02/2012 17:32

Ooh there were lots of us (not just 4)! My parents were run ragged providing for us. Not sure why they had so many - they were lovely folk - jist not very mat/paternal!

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suiledonn1 · 10/02/2012 17:39

I am one of a family in double figures too. I agree with a lot of what slug says.

Very little individual attention (I am one of the older ones) and lots of childcare foisted on us from a young age. Not much money to go round so always felt guilty asking for anything. No extra curricular activities or effort made to find out what we were good at.

We actually for the most part get on really well and speak regularly though and I like that aspect of it.

I have to say though we are the most under achieving bunch you ever met - all academically bright - most have degrees and several post grad qualifications between us but very little career success, career satisfaction (or in several cases even jobs) to show for it. None of us have hobbies or seem to be talented at anything.

All my siblings are over 26 and most in long term relationships yet only 3 of us have kids. Two of us have 2 and one has 3.

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dontforget2scream · 10/02/2012 17:41

Correctme - I find your last comment really interesting because oddly enough I don't think my mum is very maternal either!

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Correctmeifiamwrong · 10/02/2012 17:46

Mum was an only child... I think she was makig up for that and thought we'd be like the bloody Waltons (hands up all kisd from big families who have been likened to the Waltons!).

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Confuseddd · 10/02/2012 18:04

I am third of six. As a girl, me and my older sister Did loads of Childcare and housework - it was all I felt valued for. And I still have trouble asking for anything as I grew up being made to feel like a nuisance. Neither my parents are that much into kids - just Catholic. Having a big family is hard is a rubbish idea imo

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Correctmeifiamwrong · 10/02/2012 18:10

I am the youngest. Aparently, according to a dear aunt, it was my fault that my mothers health was ruined and my father worked himself to death, so they shouldn't have had me (and she told them that when she found out that I was on the way).

I do love families. There's a psychology dissertation in there somewhere.

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Correctmeifiamwrong · 10/02/2012 18:13

Oh and number 5 was the apple of everyones eye. Not quite sure why number six caused all the familial disharmony. Maybe I was just an evil baby!

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Pagwaatch · 10/02/2012 18:29

I was 7 of 8

Pros
There is always someone to be with
Great fun - games were brilliant. We made stuff up, we had team games - brilliant
Nicking my sisters clothes. Being exposed to so much music - motown, heavy metals, rock, soul etc etc

Cons
It sucks
You are never alone
You never have privacy
Your parents cannot, however much they want to, give you enough time. Those who are the most trouble get all the attention.
Teasing. Endless fucking teasing.
Being treated like the spice girls -you arrive in every situation with every good and bad deed of your siblings around your neck. 'are you a live wire like x?' 'y is such a great sportsman -are you not like that'. And that works both ways. There is nothing like the resentment of being much better at school than your older siblings.
No new clothes, ever
No access to anything extra. I wanted to dance. No way could my parents afford that or get me to lessons etc.
No holidays. Well 2.

Some of those things were just the poverty of course. But buying for 8 obviously made things even tighter than if we had been 2 or 3. Although I was 7th so they would have been 2 or 3 Grin

I had three children. I would never have had 8. I think one more would have been nice, especially as my dc are spaced out.

Actually reading that so starkly makes me uncomfortable. I spent years saying 'oh yes, it was lovely -great fun although it had it's drawbacks' but actually it was pretty shit really.

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Correctmeifiamwrong · 10/02/2012 18:32

Oh Pag - at least you had a younger sibling to bully. All I had was my imaginary friend!

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MUM2BLESS · 10/02/2012 19:18

I am the 3rd of 7 kids. Born in the 60's.

It was fun. We had each other. I only had one sister. We became independant very quickly.

We did not have a lot of material stuff like some of the other kids. Christmas was always pretty special as we love to give presents to each other, even though it was not expensive.

My parents were always quite busy with us all.

When I was a child children did not really get lots of material stuff like today. We watched tv and played with each other inside and outside the home.

My dad was one of 13 from what I can remember. He had less than what we had.

It made me appreciate the little things in life. We grew with manner (please and thank you etc) I have passed some of the things unto my our four kids. I am hot on manners. I am also a childminder of seven. Still hot on manners with them.

It was not always easy being a a large family but we made it through the hard times.

I think its more challenging to bring up kids today compared to years ago (financially).

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lockets · 10/02/2012 20:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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Thinkingof4 · 10/02/2012 20:05

I am no4 of 5.
I loved my childhood mostly, and have lots of v happy memories of family times, holidays, picnics etc. My dad had a good job and we were ok money wise which I am sure made a big difference ( though still lots of sharing and handme downs.

I have 3 and we are planning one more. I think an even number will help reduce someone always being left out.

I'm quite surprised reading some of the posts above which are a bit negative but very big families and not enough money seems like a common theme.
Maybe the answer is only having as many as you can comfortably afford?

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Pagwaatch · 10/02/2012 20:05

But that is the thread isn't it Confused

Were you in a large family, what's it like?

Of course we are only describing our own experience. Just because my experience is mine alone does not change it.

If someone said 'do you own a mini. What's it like' I wouldn't refuse to answer on the basis that my life is different to that of other mini owners.

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pinkappleby · 10/02/2012 20:12

My DH is 6 of 6, there is a gap between him and the next 5 up. He agrees with Correctmeifiamwrong, basically feels it sucked.

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MrsBrownX · 10/02/2012 20:43

Oldest of 4 and the only girl.
My 'childhood' consisted of changing nappies and making up bottles.
Mum was eldest of 4 and all her sisters have at least 3.
We did have a laugh though, especially in the back of the car < no seat belts in those days, we used to climb over the back seat and play in the boot>
I have 2; my youngest brother has 3 and the other two are not in a relationship and have none

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MUM2BLESS · 10/02/2012 21:41

Sorry I still have my sister. I wrote only had.

Most of us were quite close in age, so we kinna grew up together. Oldest in his 50s younger now 40.

my family was kinna average in size compared to some. Some had 9 and 10 kids.

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lockets · 10/02/2012 21:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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HillyWallaby · 11/02/2012 05:24

I don't see how it cannot have been shaped by how many there were of you TBH, in the same way as I can't see how someone's childhood would be shaped by being a singleton. Every family is 'shaped' by it to one extend or another - it's just less noticable for 2,3 or 4 children than it is for 1 or 7, or 10.

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oneof14 · 11/02/2012 06:19

It was busy, busy, busy
Teased ruthlessly
Never been alone with either of my parents
Parents had no idea of my life - what I liked, who my friends were etc
One photo of me in childhood, at least they think it's me, no one is sure
Endlessly compared with one another
No privacy
To this day, none of us knows much about each other as we have spent so much energy fighting for our respective corners and trying to create privacy.

I have two children and I love the quiet and the closeness.

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oneof14 · 11/02/2012 06:21

Oh, and it's not about money. My parents were well off and we had domestic help. But 2 adults simply cannot provide quality time to 14 children.

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