The “New” Large Family Trend
Recently, I’ve found numerous articles about the new trend – you know, the large family ‘trend’. According to all the statistics, families with more than 2 children are increasing. Most of the articles site the 2004 study where 11 percent of US births in that year were to women who already had three children. This was up from 10 percent in 1995. Large families, it has been suggested, are the new status symbol.
Articles like these make me chuckle because I personally have five children. I am not a status symbol and I did not decide to have my children based upon current norms or because of what other people would think of me. In fact, after I crossed the ‘two child’ threshold, I noticed a distinct change in the attitudes of family and most of my friends when I’d announce subsequent pregnancies. What was I doing?
I love being a mom and I always wanted a big family. I never set out to have five children, it just sort of happened. As I look around me, I notice that yes, there are an ever increasing amount of large families, but most of those families, like ours, are blended families. ‘She’ has children and ‘he’ has children and then ‘they’ have a child of their own. If ‘she’ has two, and ‘he’ has two, that’s four children right there! If ‘they’ have a child together, you have a family with five children.
Parenting a large brood is not for the faint hearted–even if you don’t factor in the obvious worries about the budge and the sheer amount of time and energy it takes to effectively parent a bunch of kids. Since we’ve moved to the southern USA, I don’t notice the distain and negative public sentiment directed towards mothers of large families that I noticed when we lived in the north. On any outing, it was almost a given that someone would approach me and spew some sort of negative comment at me. I actually had one ‘gentleman’ inform me that I needed to find myself a new hobby! I politely informed him that I was very happy with my hobby and saw no need to find a new one. It’s one thing for a journalist to define me as a status symbol. It’s another thing all together to be living that status out in real life. Having said this, would I change a thing about my life if I could do it all over again? Never. I consider myself blessed to be a mother of a large brood.
Are large families the new trend? A new status symbol? I would say no, there’s no ‘new’ trend and I know of no one who is thinking about having a large family because it’s fashionable. Absolutely no one. Instead, I would suggest that large families have never gone away – the media is just behind on the reality curve.