Large families – what’s in a number?

I was having a conversation about something-or-other with my mother-in-law earlier this week when she mentioned something referring to a family with fourteen children.  I asked her whether the number seemed high to her.

“Fourteen?” she asked, as if she was thinking about it for the first time and I explained what I meant.

On Monday it was my birthday.  Ben and Stephanie came over for the day along with my parents and we had all eleven children in the house together.  As we gathered around the table to fill our plates with the selection of food we had set out Mike and I cast our eyes around it and commented to each other on how there still didn’t seem to be very many children there.  I have blogged before about family size and how we’ve experienced the feeling that not everyone is present even when we are all there.  It just doesn’t feel like there are that many of us.

As Mike explained it, when you think of 11 children you imagine them to be taking up so much more space, and for things to look far busier and manic than they actually are, like scenes from the Steve Martin film, Cheaper by the Dozen or something.  In truth life is a lot calmer and not as hectic as you’d imagine.

Like I said to my mother-in-law, when we had only four children and watched a programme about a family with fourteen, our reaction back then was, “Wow! Fourteen!” whereas now it doesn’t seem such a big deal at all.  I then asked her again that as she’s now familiar with us having “so many” ourselves, did she think of fourteen children being a high number.

“No.  I suppose not!” she concluded.

So what do you think?  How many children do you have and how many do you consider to be a lot?  Has this figure changed as your family has grown?  I’d be interested to hear your comments.


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10 thoughts on “Large families – what’s in a number?

  1. I have four, as you know. I pretty much said I wanted 2 or 4, back when we had the first. That was my mum's fault – she's the eldest of 3 and told me not to have 3, as you have a middle child who struggles to know their position! So, I said 2 or 4, and it was 2, then hubby said we could go for the third, so what did he expect after that?! OK, it took 6 years for the time to be right, but we have 4, that's what a wanted and that feels right to me for us. There'll always be the slight hole left by a miscarriage, but other than that, I feel we're all present and correct and my family is complete. That said, I can fully understand what you mean about more kids not feeling like you might think – we have extras come and go – now eldest is engaged, his visits mean two extras, not just one. And visitors ebb and flow and we just absorb and cater for them.

  2. We have 11 kids, 9 at home now. The oldest has a partner and a child. So when we all get together, there are 13 and it still doesn't seem like lots! We'd love lots more and we're looking forward to having more grandkids one day too.

  3. Yeah, For me growing up we had 4 kids, and I felt we were on the top limit of normal (back then it was!). 5 was the turning point from normal to large, so 5 always had this magical 'bigness' about it that I struggled to imagine, even though it was only one more.

    Fast forward a few years, my husband is second of 8. 8 seemed huge to start with, but now it seems so small, I'm always turning around wondering where the others are, because I expect more people to be milling about.

    We hope to have a large family. At the moment a dozen is the scary upper limit.

  4. we have 5. that is all the biological children we have because my last 4 were c-sections and i didn't want anymore surgeries. if it weren't for that, we'd definately be having more. i also hope to adopt some day (i'm only 29 and feel that i have many good parenting years ahead of me). i think as long as the father and mother embrace the children there are never "too many". and i too am looking forward to lots of grandkids one day 🙂

  5. I have four but would love more. I love a full house. I think larger families are great and I get cross when people suggest 2 might have been better.

  6. I don't think there can ever be too many. I guess I'll know it is the "right" number when the Lord tells me so. For now, I have 9 (only 6 left at home). We are finishing up our homestudy and our worker is going to qualify us for 6 more. Will that be enough? I haven't a clue. I do know now, there are some empty places at our dining room table too. With our 3 that are married and the 9 grandkids amongst them, plus our 6 currently at home….there are 23 of us for family gatherings. No…that doesn't seem to be too much. There are still some kids missing. Sure can't wait to meet them and bring them home where they belong.

    God's Blessings

  7. There are nine children in our family, and I am also amazed that it doesn't seem to be that "big" when we are all together. Sometimes the house is so quiet that you would never suspect so many live here. We also notice that when even one or two are missing, it's like a huge, gaping emptiness.

  8. We have 7 children, from 10.5 to 2 months. When I was young, I wanted 4 children. Sometime around my 2nd child, that number grew to 6. Then it morphed into 8. Now it's how many the Lord wants to bless us with!
    I look at my youngest and I can't imagine "being done". We have a new child every 2 years and I quite like that! People ask me often how many children I want and i respond "all of them".
    I once read a list of children's names in 1 family, totaling 15, to my mother and she said that's gross. Having 12 grandchildren (7 of them mine), I wonder what she'd say now?

  9. I always think when someone has like 14 kids that I could not handle/pay for/ clean up after that. But then God gives us more and we can handle/ pay for / clean up after them. With 8 kids now, our life is generally peaceful and beautiful. I think it is sad that so many people are too afraid to open their hearts and homes. They miss so much joy. On the other hand, a lot of people who would open their hearts and homes cannot have any or many children and I am sure they too can find joy in their little families.

  10. 17 yrs marriage, no birth control, 2 sons – eldest is 15 yrs old, younger is 10. Thank God for them. We wanted 4 and being 44/45 yrs old we still hope to have another child 🙂

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