Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why Big Families Might Be Easier

I found this article on my friend Renee's blog and I thought it was very true, so I wanted to share it here, too. I copied the article and included my thoughts in italics. ;)

From the National Catholic Register

By: Matthew Archbold

Why Big Families Might Be Easier

A woman said to me recently that my five children were very well behaved. It’s one of the best things I can hear so I thanked her. Then she asked me “how do you do it with so many?”

I told her that I don’t think I’d be a very good parent of one child or two. She didn’t believe my answer but honest to goodness, I sometimes think that having many children is easier than just one.

Why big families are easier:

Patience. I never have to teach patience. My children know that I can’t drop everything for them if I have a baby in my arms. Depending on the time of day, I may or may not have a baby in my arms. However, no matter what time it is, I often find myself saying, "You're going to have to wait." And thankfully, they do. Sometimes they just don't wait very well. LOL

Work Ethic. My children have learned to work because there are always chores to do in a small house packed with little messy lunatics. And they all learn quickly that sometimes they have to clean up a mess even though they didn’t make it. This happens A LOT in our house! Sometimes there is grumbling but I sweetly remind them that I clean up messes I didn't make, like at meal time, and clean up time, and bath time, and on and on. They get quiet very quickly. ;) In all seriousness, I also remind them that we, as a family, are a team, and we have to work together as one. Working together pleases the Lord and makes our family run more smoothly.

Humility. My children have learned it’s not always their turn. They’ve accepted they can’t always get their way because other people have to get their way sometimes. They’ve learned that some children are better at certain things than they are. This is something I deal with constantly. We promote esteeming others better than ourselves and try to live that example. I also like to think that TJ and I set an example of humility when we admit our faults and ask our children, and each other, for forgiveness. We also expect our children to do the same.

Foreign language skills. You can learn a lot of Spanish by watching ten years of Dora the Explorer that you just can’t pick up in two. Although my children do enjoy watching Dora the Explorer, it's not a show we watch regularly enough to consider ourselves fluent in Spanish. =)

Laughter. The children have learned to laugh at the insane non sequiturs of younger siblings. They’ve learned that laughing just feels better when seven people are doing it along with you. We laugh a lot around here. TJ is a silly person and the children really enjoy his antics. We also enjoy laughing at the silly things Teagan does as she is definitely the "clown" in the family. She's been that way since she was born.

Competition. Do I really need to go into this? Everything is a competition in big families. The children compete over who reads faster, who drinks their milk faster, who gets to the bathroom first…etc. Everything is a competition and they’re all keeping score. This one is sooo true! My kids, with the exception of Teagan, make everything a competition. I try to use this to my advantage, particularly when I'm trying to get everyone out the door. I make things a "race" and it almost always works.

Balance. The floor of the front room of my home is a minefield of toys and childhood paraphernalia. Just walking through the room requires great skill and balance. I’m absolutely convinced my two year old will be a favorite for Gold on the balance beam in the 2016 Olympics. (She might have to lay off the cookies a little but I’ll deal with that later.) Anyone who has been to my house knows this is true. We have too much stuff and not enough room. That's one reason why we purge toys and clothes 2-3 times per year. I think it teaches the kids many lessons, the greatest of which is that the Lord has abundantly blessed us and we need to share what we have with others. As they have gotten older, they enjoy picking out the items to give away and it's become less of a "chore" and more of a "heartfelt idea."

Life isn’t fair. Sometimes you just give it to the baby because you want a little quiet. Not all the time. But sometimes. I am definitely guilty of this. As a mom of 4 kids (any day to be 5) under the age of 7, "Life isn't fair" has become our motto. However, TJ and I do promote equity in our house by making sure the children all have opportunities. For instance, I may take the younger ones to the park while Th is at school. "That's not fair!" is what I'll hear when he gets home. But, I sweetly remind him that he purchased ice cream at lunch that day. It all seems to work out in the end. . .

Just say “No.” Being able to say “no” may be the most undervalued skill in this world. The need to be liked is pervasive. The need to be cool even more so. Having brothers and sisters teaches children to say “no” about 143 times a day. It’s a good skill. Enough said. . . ;)

Praying. They learn that nothing beats praying together as a family. I love that my kids have learned to turn to the Lord for their every want/need/desire in the form of a prayer. Just the other night Th slammed his finger in the van door. After he calmed down and stopped crying, he said to TJ and I, "Don't worry Mommy and Daddy, I already prayed to God to heal it." I immediately thanked the Lord for that moment.

Nature/Nurture. Having many children has taught me that nature has a lot more to do with who my kids are than nurture. This is helpful, especially when your children misbehave you don’t have to feel bad about it. Just say “Stupid nature!!!” and blame your spouse’s genes. I just want to clarify that by "nature", I take it to mean our "sin nature." And yes, we all have one. By acknowledging it, I don't have to ask "Why did you do that?" because I already know the answer: he or she is a sinner living in a house full of sinners.

Name calling. You can occasionally call your child by the wrong name and still not be considered a terrible parent. They know who you mean just from your tone. Sometimes if you need something done you can call the wrong name and someone will still show up. That helps. I constantly call my kids by the wrong name... but in my defense, I always get the first letter right! Unless of course I get the dogs' names in the mix, too! LOL!

Spying. My children have learned that they can’t get away with anything. I have spies who look a lot like them who are willing to drop the dime on them for anything. Even at school I’ve got a child in just about every grade. If they do something I’ll hear. That keeps them nervous. And I like keeping my kids a little nervous. I don't have children in every grade. . . yet. But, the older 3 kids NEVER miss a chance to tell on another.

Friendship. The children have many friends. They’ve got girly friends, crying friends, fun loving friends, consoling friends, and crazy friends. And they all have the same last name. And they’ll be there forever for each other. No matter what. This is the best thing about having my children close in age. As they get older, the bond they share grows and deepens. I pray they will continue to be best friends for life!

Love. I think my children have learned to love because there are others around them to love and who love them. I honestly can think of no better way to teach children to love than siblings. I agree that having siblings teaches one to love because love is an action, a way of doing. 1 Cor. 13:4-8 says that love is patient, kind, does not envy, is not self-seeking, is not prideful, etc. In order to truly love another person, one must DO those things. Having a large family means there are many opportunities to practice loving one another. I am so thankful for each of my (almost!) 5 beautiful kids! Each is a blessing and have taught me so much about my God and my life!

1 Shared with Me:

Lindsey said...

You bring out a lot of good points about having a large family. Small families cannot appreciate the advantages!

Lindsey Petersen