Big families are better

Filed under: Your Pregnancy, Extreme Childhood

I grew up in a larger-than-average family, by today's standards, and I have to say I've always felt that big families were better for the kids than smaller ones, even as I worry about the effects of over-population. Cassandra Jardine, a British mother of five, with the help of Sky News presenter Colin Brazier, makes the argument that not only are big broods better for the kids, they're better for the planet as well.

When Brazier heard that it costs £180,000 to raise a child, he knew that that didn't hold true for every child. I know we've bought less (well, slightly less) clothing for each of our three kids. The same is true of toys, books, and other gear. Brazier goes on to claim that, on a per capita basis, large families are actually better for the environment than small families or individuals. Certainly, it's easy to see that cooking a meal for six or seven does not use anywhere near as many resources as cooking individual meals for the same number of people.

Jardine and Brazier offer quite a few additional reasons why children from large families are better off, including:

  • They are better and making and keeping friends because they have to learn to share and get along at home
  • They learn to be part of a team and to resolve disputes
  • They are more likely to learn to cook, wash their laundry, and do other household chores
  • Because playtime is less closely supervised, they take more risks
  • Saving money is something they that becomes second nature to them.

Of course, there are downsides too:

  • While the cost of feeding five kids is not five times as much as one, it is still significantly more
  • My family made do with a two bedroom house, but generally more kids means more house
  • Eating out, going to Disneyland, and almost anything else becomes prohibitively expensive
  • Not only do larger families need larger, more expensive vehicles, they spend more on gas too
  • Swim lessons for one kid aren't cheap; multiply that by five and you start thinking about selling a kidney

While my experiences don't support all of Brazier's claims, I still believe that growing up in a large batch of kids is preferable and better in the long run. Rather than have a huge family of my own, however, I am glad to be part of a group of like-minded parents so that my kids get to feel like they have a dozen siblings without having to sacrifice too much.

How many kids do you think make the ideal family?
One -- I don't want to have to divide my attention17 (6.1%)
Two -- So they have someone to play with without getting lost in a crowd46 (16.4%)
Three or four -- Enough to be a group of friends without being overwhelming112 (40.0%)
Five or Six -- A big family is best (but let's keep it reasonable)57 (20.4%)
Seven or more -- You can never have too many kids and I've got plenty of love to go around38 (13.6%)
Sixteen plus -- My name is Duggar...10 (3.6%)

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.