My Big Family

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on December 10, 2009

Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the youth. Happy is the man whose quiver is full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3, 4

six little ducklings

Yesterday the kids and I stopped at Carl’s Jr. while we waited for a few prescriptions to be filled. Noah was asleep and it was just the kids and me. As we sat there eating, a woman came and sat down near us and just stared at us. Now, I’m not talking about just watching us, but she sat with her mouth agape, glaring at us. My kids were not loud and obnoxious, but quiet and somewhat docile. All of them.

That got me thinking… Thinking about my family. Thinking about my big family.

Are big families that much of an anomaly that people have to stare, or was she just captivated by my children’s charm and cuteness?

As the oldest of five, growing up with a very large extended family, I didn’t really think much about the world’s perception of us. Except for when I’d hear “okay, kids, get your coats on… time to go,” a time or two, from a tired hostess. Or, when my parents were complimented on their children’s “surprisingly good behavior,” as if it was shocking that a large young family could also be nice dinner companions.

Now, as a mom of six young’ens myself, I am struggling with everyone’s perception of our family. Simply due to the fact that there are SIX little ones in tow, I know that people see us sit down at a table nearby and shudder. I guess if I didn’t have so many kiddos myself, and I saw half a dozen young kids parade in, with only two (sometimes even just one) adults, I may too.

On many occasions Ray and I have also been complimented on our children’s ability to behave in a restaurant or other venue. By those same people who cringed when we walked in, mind you. Maybe people shouldn’t be so quick to label the large families they see as unruly and chaotic.

No matter how well behaved my siblings and I were growing up, my family was hardly ever invited to any other family’s home. Now I understand why, because the same is true for us. I’ve discovered that people think of the sheer volume of us and the noise and activity that encompasses the eight of us and shy away. That and most homes just aren’t big enough to accommodate five rough and tumble boys. Ha!

To be fair, many of our friends are more than happy to come hang out here at our place. Perhaps that’s because our floors are already sticky or we can send our kids to their rooms, but I’m cool with that. You may be surprised at how strangers react to us, though. Aside from the stares and glare, many people just point, count, and frown as they walk by us. On more than one occasion I’ve turned around, before an unsuspecting passer-by even had a chance to add us all up, and said with a smile, “There are six of ‘em and they’re all mine.

What do you do when you see a mom with more than a few ducklings walking behind her? Are you quick to assume they are a walking mass of chaos?

Perhaps you’re the mama or papa of a large family… How do people react to you and your brood?

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet December 10, 2009 at 8:23 am

Other than the fact that we only have four right now, I could copy and paste your entire post. My husband I were just commenting today on the fact that we are never invited to peoples homes. And we also get a lot of, “wow, your kids did GREAT” with total amazement that four kids six and under can go somewhere without reeking total havoc :)

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Lorie December 10, 2009 at 8:31 am

I certainly count how many children there are but I hope I’m not glaring. If I have a disapproving look on my face it’s probably because I know I couldn’t handle that many little ones & I think God knows that. I didn’t even start my family until I was 33 so I feel that the late start God gave me will prohibit me from having anymore children (that & other health related reason). I’ll be having #3 in early Feb. & often wonder what God was thinking in giving me a 3rd child. I will love this child as much as the first two but I feel like I struggle with them way too much. But, then again, I’m still thinking about adoption, so who knows. We have several big families at church (5 or more children) & I always admire them, especially the mother, & wish God had blessed me in that way. Anyway, sorry about my rambling.

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Kristen December 10, 2009 at 9:28 am

We only have three at this point, but will have more… we get stares with only three…lol… mostly because we were 20 when we started and both look so young… but I say to those people who stare, “get a life!” I mean really?!? Is it that interesting that someone has 6 kids?! HA! Aside from wondering how in the world you do it all…lol… Enjoy your kids, they are all beautiful!

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Casey December 10, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Soon after I had my son, my husband and I went out to eat. It was my husband, 3 month old baby (if that) and me. There was a woman that had a freaking fit bc they were going to sit her in the same section as us. HE WAS SLEEPING in his carrier. We were so mad that she was so rude.
Now days I have my 2 and honestly usually have 3 or 4 extra if we go somewhere. It is so ridiculous that people can be so rude about you taking your kids somewhere. I have had MANY good experiences with some.

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Christine December 11, 2009 at 4:26 pm

That is unbelievable!! Sometimes I wish people would just get over themselves and lighten up.

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Krista December 10, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Well, growing up some of the most well behaved kids I knew were from a family of 6. There house was always fun and peaceful. I wanted to have a big family because of them… somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen, I’m exhausted just working on #2! But I like big families!

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Christine December 11, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Big families’ homes are usually the ones where all the neighborhood kids hang out… What’s a few more? lol

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Beth December 10, 2009 at 2:09 pm

We have seven children, the oldest being 11. We too get the glares at restaurants, and then the compliments. The hardest thing for me is the judgement in peoples questions, words, and eyes. Yes, I know what “causes” babies. And I know where they come from. They came from my loving Father who for some reason blessed me with them all. I even have family members who are less than kind when it comes to the size of our family, or our decision to be open for more. When it all comes down to it, it’s no ones business by my husband and I. And really, it hurts. So if you are out there and see a huge family, go ahead and count heads, be amazed, then speak some kind of encouragement. We love that!

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Christine December 11, 2009 at 4:28 pm

You are so right, Beth. If those people who stare and count would then off words of encouragement, it may make the sting of being gawked at just a bit bearable! ;)

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julie December 10, 2009 at 2:26 pm

as the oldest of 5 kids and now I a mom to 5 kids. I get stares by other people. My kids have good manners.My kids will always have friends and playmates and share with their siblings. I know we don’t have 2.5 kids but this is my life, and I wouldn’t change it. we choose to have them close in age and its been a blessing and a challenge.

When picking up my kids today..I had that same thought of all my ducks in a row. I know people think its chaos but I love the routine I have with them. I don’t assume anything about anyone and their family. Its not my place.

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Shanna December 10, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Hey there! Arrived here via twitter. :) We have 8 kids.. 6 boys, 2 girls. :) We get the same glares, stares and comments. Normally I just brush off any rude comments. People sometimes speak before thinking.. most comments though are simply awe.. basically a wow, how do you do it. I usually leave off the part about working from home, homeschooling, running a design biz, etc. I think it would probably be too much for some people to handle. LOL. It’s nice to have a little fun sometimes. I mean, do people really think I would make a trip to the grocery store and bring a few extra kids along for the ride?

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Christine December 11, 2009 at 4:35 pm

“How do you do it?” is the most commonly asked question of me, after people realize all six are, in fact, mine. I just shrug and smile any more. lol

I had to laugh, tho, when I read the part about taking a few extra kids along… We’ve been known to bring extra kids with us to church, but certainly not grocery shopping!

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Stephanie December 10, 2009 at 2:54 pm

I actually love it when I see big families. It makes my heart happy.

I have four sisters and one brother – and have many fond memories of growing up with lots of “built-in” friends.

As for the argument about bigger families having unruly/disobedient children, I think that is completely unfounded. In fact, the families in my circle that have 4+ kids have the BEST BEHAVED kids. They’re polite and tender-hearted and they know how to share. :)

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Kailynn December 10, 2009 at 2:56 pm

OK- You said be honest :)
I grew up in a household with six kids and I was the oldest. My mom was an amazing mother and I don’t think any of us felt left out or my mom loved one more than another.
BUT… I do feel like I was a second mother and I was always so distraught to go out in public with all the kids in tow. Not that I didn’t love them but growing up in Southern california it wasn’t the average family size. We got a lot of stares and questions like “is this a day care?” or “Wow..how many are there?”.
So being the oldest I saw and heard alot of these comments and I was ashamed. I’m sad to say this now but I feel like having so many kids that we were not as close. who knows… the real reason but sometimes I feel like I might as well be a cousin and not a sister.

My sister is 28 years old and just had her 5th baby in Oct and at Thanksgiving was already talking about number six. I just don’t understand how she could already be talking about the next. I enjoy and savor each baby (2 kids) and its beyond me why she’s be talking about her next when the new one is still on the Teat ;)

I love my family but having a lot of kids is not for me…I’m lucky I can deal with two and having several businesses- forget about it..LOL

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Christine December 11, 2009 at 4:41 pm

I think you’re right, Kailynn, about making sure we don’t expect too much of our older kids. I was nine when my youngest sister was born, and always very motherly towards her and my other siblings. This was because I wanted to, tho, not that my Mom ever expected too much of me. It certainly is one thing to expect the older kids to help, but it’s certainly not their job to parent.

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Stephanie December 10, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Also: I think that our society is generally not very “kid-friendly.” It saddens me to say it, but I feel that, by and large, children are considered a nuisance in our culture…rather than the gift and miracle that they are.

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Christine December 11, 2009 at 4:46 pm

I think you’re right, unfortunately. And, to be honest, I think that’s the very reason people see us and cringe… They don’t understand what a blessing children are and that the noise and clutter truly pales in comparison to the gift they are and the joy they bring.

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Lesley Miller December 10, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Hi Christine,

I don’t have any kids yet. I sure hope I’m not holding my mouth open when I see big families, but, I probably do. I think big families are actually really neat. But, like many things in life, when something is rare people tend to either be fascinated, make judgements, or simply feel the need to comment. For instance, I’m really tall. I can’t tell you the number of times complete strangers want to tell me about how tall I am, ask if I play basketball, or want to know how tall my husband is (as if that matters!) We humans are curious beings, and sometimes curiousity steals our manners.

Good luck with the strangers. It sounds like you know how to handle them well with poise and confidence. Your kids will turn out wonderfully with that example.

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Melissa December 10, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Awww, I wish you were here – I’d happily have you all over every week! You enjoy your little boy ducklings + lovely Julia, and I’ll enjoy my little girl ducklings, and hopefully we can all get together again in the not too distant future!
Love, Melis

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emily ban December 10, 2009 at 3:56 pm

I always dreamed of someday having a big family (5+ kids) but now that I have a toddler and infant in tow my view has changed. For me, I want to be the best parent I can be and have close relationships with each child. I don’t know if I can succeed at that if I have a big family. For me, 2-4 may be where I fall. I think having a big family is up to each couples’ discretion. I’m sure there are many parents who can successfully raise 5+ respectful,obedient, tightknit children. Then I say, go for it! If they can afford them? Go for it! Children are a blessing and I try to take the stance of not judging because I shouldn’t and I can’t walk a mile in anyone else’s shoes but my own.If I stare at a big family I’m usually amazed at how well-behaved they are (that is, if they are being well-behaved)and if the mother is slender after having all those kids I’m just in awe and a wee bit jealous. I would love to have a big family but I just don’t think I could handle all the work it entails! But, to each his own!

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Amanda December 10, 2009 at 7:49 pm

This subject seems to come up more and more lately. Above all, I do not believe it is anyone’s place to judge the beliefs of others.

Personally, I do not believe that the words in the Bible are meant to say that the number of children you have should be left up to God. Or in other words, “We will leave it up to God and be happy with as many children as he blesses us with.” I believe that God gave man free will. I do not believe that having so many children and having to depend on government (or otherwise) assistance is alright. Falling on hard times and needing it is one thing, depending on it permanently to raise your family based on the belief that God will provide is another. It is my belief that in those circumstances, God is not providing, man is providing.

I am not willing to form an opinion on how many is too many. I do believe though that children should not raise children, help to care for is one thing, raise is completely another. While I do believe that is good to teach your children how take care of small children- be it changing diapers, making lunches or whatever- depending on your children to raise and care for your other children so that the parents can tend to yet other children is NOT okay, IN MY OPINION.

I believe that many God fearing people who believe in the word of the Bible translate it in many different ways. It is possible they translate it in ways that may not be what God necessarily meant. Which is not to say they are wrong. What I am merely saying that filling your quiver children could mean 2, it could mean 30, it could mean have 1 biological child and take other less fortunate children under your wing and guide them. But all too often there are those who take that verse to mean that they should have as many as “God will bless you with.” without thinking that, perhaps, that verse is meant to say something completely different.

One of my concerns is world population. In a comment I made a while back about the world being overpopulated to someone with 5 children and I was quite rudely told that that is an old hippy view and given a website to look over so that I could change my opinion on it. Whether or not the world is or is not overpopulated, I believe that the modern world is heading in a direction (if we aren’t already there) that will be irreversible. Our nation, as a whole, is extremely frivolous and environmentally unfriendly. If everyone in this world could live more harmoniously with the earth, I believe we could support the population. But we don’t and therefore we can’t whether we are here yet or not.

While this may be a bit off topic, I am sure that with those last few comments I may be labeled as a tree hugger. That’s not entirely the case but my family and I do do things to lessen the waste and lessen the burden, not a much as some but a whole heck of a lot more than others.

Finally, and most importantly, I feel that if you have a quiver full of children, be it 1 or 500, and are raising them to be good, law abiding, moral, ethical, honest people then that is worth more than someone with 1 or 2 children who are not.

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Christine December 11, 2009 at 4:49 pm

I do agree that quivers can be all sizes…. Ours happens to be quite large!

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QuatroMama December 10, 2009 at 8:37 pm

We could go on for DAYS on this topic, Christine! DAYS! We’ve receive about every reaction possible to our not-as-large family, but equally or perhaps even more attention-grabbing family. I certainly didn’t plan to live a life in the spotlight, but I try my hardest to put myself in other peoples shoes, to react with love, to bite my tongue and be gracious, and to learn a few lessons on refraining from judging others.

All in all, we strive to overwhelm their low expectations and display our children as a BLESSING, rather than what they might perceive.

Keep up the great work, mama! You are a LIGHT in the darkness!

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Elizabeth Norton December 10, 2009 at 11:45 pm

You may not think I can relate to this being a mama of 2 kids but I so can. Yes, I only have 2 boys but…..I have had over 23 foster kids. Those foster kids have come in all sizes, shapes and colors. I was born to be a foster mom and loved each and every one that came through my house…..but with driving a mini van and having a rainbow of children come out of my car I did get looks. Heartbreaking looks because I was trying to make a difference in the world. I only had those kids for a short time. They didnt all have the same dad, they didnt all have me as a “real” mom but for that moment they were with me and they were part of my family. People asked birth dates and tried to figure it out. I usually had a quick answer for every one. I remember once telling someone that they were all born on the same day, the same year and each a minute apart.LOL If I was going to make an impression on their little lives,,,,,I had a short time to do it. The judging was insane, and the looks made some of the older FK kids duck there heads. It was brutal. Its a good thing that I could careless what those people think and I was driven to do the task that was set before me. Those people have no clue and in the end I do not answer to anyone of them. Thank GOD for that!!

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Annie December 11, 2009 at 10:37 am

My husband and I started young and got our family fast. I’m 28 with 4 little ones under 5. We hear it all, from “my goodness they’re close”, to “You do know how this happens right?” Mostly I try to let it roll off my back, they’re my family and I love them right? But sometimes it just gets to be to much.
On one such “to much” weekend, we attended church with my husbands family and the gentlemen behind us, a neighbor to my inlaws for many years, just stared. I braced myself. There was gonna be another one of “those” comments. But to my suprise he tapped me on the shoulder and said, “my goodness, they are beautiful! You two sure are blessed!” This sweet man taught me something that day. I don’t care what others say. It may irk me sometimes, but I shrug them off and remember that I am blessed!

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Christine December 11, 2009 at 5:37 pm

I had 4 little ones by the time I was 28, too.

And, you’re right,it’s easy to focus on the negative comments, but there certainly are good, positive and encouraging ones, as well.

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Sheri December 11, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Hi Christine,
I have also gotten some very strange comments at times from people when I’m out with my three girls. On at least a few occasions people have said…”oh I bet you wish you had a boy” or something else insensitive. But many other times people say nice things, open doors, or just try to be helpful in their little ways. People are just people, messy and imperfect. I try not to let the comments get to me…but they have at times too. But I think your large family is beautiful!

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glenda December 11, 2009 at 8:29 pm

I am totally jealous of big families. I know they are lots of work but the rewards must be tremendous!!

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Leah @Bookieboo April 7, 2010 at 6:58 pm

I always stare in amazement at the mother. ;)
.-= Leah @Bookieboo´s last blog ..Congratulations to the Finalists =-.

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Monica October 5, 2010 at 12:52 pm

I know this was written almost a year ago but I am happy I found this post. I am a mother of 5 and people always look at me like I’m crazy. My mother also was very judgmental of my choice to have a big family. She always said 2 was pleanty. Now I am planning on having more because I am remarried. I am sure she will not be happy with me. Thanks for the great story.

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Lea December 24, 2010 at 3:50 pm

My husband and I have two children, 1 and 3, and a stepson
who is 6. People already look at like we are crazy too, with just
three close in age. Whenever people ask me if I want more, they
mouths gape in surprise when say we would love more. I don’t see
myself likely to have a quiverfull size family, but can see myself
easily having at least two more. I think that big families are
beautiful and having three kids close in age is awesome!

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