15 Kids and Counting – Dispelling the myths about large families or doing them a disservice?


The third and final episode of “15 Kids and Counting” aired yesterday.  It showed three very different families and, like the previous episodes, each of the families had a very different story to tell.

Knowing our own personal experience of how editing works to tell a story that isn’t necessarily true, I couldn’t help but watch it with a certain scepticism, and wondered how the context of things were actually said compared to how they were finally shown.  I couldn’t help but watch Jo Watson and her family, and listen to the story of how all her children were from one marriage spanning over two decades and think, “There but for the grace of God go I”.  None of us knows what is around the corner.  (Benefit fraud, I couldn’t quite comprehend, though).

All in all, I don’t personally feel that “15 Kids and Counting” was a negative series on large families at all.

I think it did show a good side to families with a greater than average number of children.  All families had someone who worked, if not now then until very recently as in the Bland family’s case.  All the children were unconditionally, undoubtedly loved and cared for and the show covered everything from the happy events to the difficult side of raising a family – any family.  Who couldn’t have loved last night’s wedding after all?

Before the series began and as the adverts were aired there was a lot of Twitter fuss and, for want of a better word, hate, about large families.  The usual stereotypical views and prejudices were being tweeted.  It was to be expected yet it was far more widespread than even I expected it to be.  What was noticeable though, was how many of the naysayers quietened down as the series progressed.  Whether they did actually quieten or became less noticeable through the positive commenters who became more and more vocal as the series progressed, I don’t know.  But, there was an undoubtedly a turning of the tide and I felt all families involved in the programmes should have been pleased with this outcome.

EDIT: I have removed a couple of the paragraphs from the original post as the mum of many I referred to (although didn’t name) quite rightly pointed out that I didn’t request her permission to retell our conversation about the programme.  I have apologised for c&p’ing excerpts of the conversation and for any distress I may have inadvertently caused and wish to do so publicly also. 

I found a lot of the comments made were very positive – and I’m not talking about comments made to me directly but made generally.  I find it very sad that one particular individual’s family has supposedly come under such fire because of the series, as I know all the families involved wanted to show a positive side to the stereotyped idea that people have about large families.

Now that it’s over, what do you think?  Did the series do large families a disservice?  Do you think the series helped dispel any myths about large families?  Has it made you look at large families differently and if so, how?  Do you think they should make another series? If not, why not and if so, what would you like to see?  Particularly, I am interested to know if you have a large family and if you have come under fire because of the series?






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9 thoughts on “15 Kids and Counting – Dispelling the myths about large families or doing them a disservice?

  1. I think, on the whole, it portrayed a different view of larger families, which is a good, great thing! The media find it a sport to bash us on a daily basis and I wasn’t intending to watch this at all, because of that. I have enjoyed the series and while it won’t change the minds of the daily fail moron mentality, it has definitely made more intelligent people sit back and think that maybe we aren’t all bad.
    The family last night, that were media bashed almost daily, I did feel sorry for, but felt that they bought a lot of it on themselves by inviting the media into their lives in the first place, but nethertheless, that is no reason for them to be hounded so. Wow they have lots of kids, so do others, the husband got done for benefit fraud, so do others, and he paid for it with jail and paying it back, the daughter got pregnant, so do others. They are not situations that are related to larger families solely are they.
    I wish I could meet that mother though, and say to her ‘why the hell are you even communicating with the parasites!’ when I saw her on the programme getting angry at reporters on the phone I wanted to shake her! Now they have more fodder, they can say that they actually spoke to her and insinuate that she said things that she didn’t. That’s how they work!
    Anyway, I watched tv for a short while to watch something that I actually enjoyed. Now I will happily go back to my book, and sit in blissful ignorance the next time someone mentions a programme they watched 🙂

  2. I think all the families were very brave to do the series, Its such a shame that people are so generally down on big families! All of the families showed a quite realistic insight I thought ALL the familys were lovely. The only thing that annoys me is the constant need for people to go on about benefits for goodness sake whose business is it! Why are other people’s finances anyone else’s business and its a shame that larger familys need to justify getting them or not! I didn’t see one horrible bratty child on that program all the children were great even with some familys having issues it was clear that the support they give each other is very special.

  3. The program showed how these families exist and how they handle life and that the children are both loved and educated, but for me that was never the issue with large familes. I am one of 4 and my mother is one of 13, all self-sufficient and not relying on benefits, so I know firsthand that large families can work and that love simply grows as the family grows.

    My problem with large familes, which the show did not address, and nor does this website, is the fact that this little world of ours has limited resources, the population is exploding at a never-before-seen rate, and sooner or later it is going to cause problems. Even within the UK, if the population continues to grow rather than remain steady, food prices will go up because we only have a finite amount of space to grow crops, housing will become even more expensive, hospitals and schools will be under even more strain etc. Therefore I do feel it’s selfish to indulge your love of having lots of children while ignoring the future predicament of said offspring.

    I am not anti-family, I just believe people should think of the future generations and how our actions now will impact them later, which in practice means most people shouldn’t aim for more than two children.

      1. You’re quite right, I found the articles not long after after posting (whoops).

        While predictions on time scales may have been incorrect, I still think the theory is right. Quite simply, we’ll run out of space sooner or later, which will cause an almighty war or a famine the minute crop yield is less than optimal. Population used to be controlled by a terrible infant mortality rate, shorter lifespans and big spikes in death caused by disease or war. Since I don’t think we want to return to any of that, the best way to avoid overpopulation in modern times is to not have loads of kids.

        In nature, once a group of animals are too successful, and there are more creatures to support than the habitat can handle, that group of animals suffer either terrible famine or fighting for resources. I just don’t want that to happen to mankind.

        1. Sorry to keep rambling on but I forgot to include a point which seems often to be overlooked.

          What irks me most is people don’t seem to look beyond the immediate. I hear the argument, ‘I may have 8 children but I use less electricity than an average family of 4′ or words to that effect. That may be true, and I salute your energy-saving ethos, but let’s do some basic maths. Assuming each child has a minimum of 2 children (which is the lower side of average), in 4 generations’ time, 2 children will have created 32 descendants. Now imagine the 8 children of my imaginary large family also have 2 children each, they will have become 128 descendants in the same period of time. Even if all those descendants live as green a life as possible, they are not going to be able to use fewer resources than the 32 descendants, and these are rather conservative estimates. Population growth is exponential and increasing at a rate that our ability to live efficiently simply cannot keep up with.

          I am not knocking you as a parent at all (you seem to do a great job). I just think there are wider problems that need to be addressed.

  4. I have just watched the series on the internet as we dont have regular TV in our house and i was sick of people approaching me to talk about it!
    I thought there was some very clever editing around your home schooling to make your eldest look tired and bored when you were clearly address just the little ones to recap.
    What people fail to realise is that hours of footage get shortened and edited to look to the public how the writer of the series wishes to portray their subjects IE on this occasion larger families.
    I have 5 children, 2 from previous relationships and 3 with my now husband.
    People have been asking me about this program loads. Where i live its rare to have 3 children let alone 5 but i will have more if god chooses to bless us with more.

    Tanya (sp?) you are a credit to parents, with one or more children and i think your choice to homeschool is brilliant!!
    I would love to homeschool mine but im not teachery enough i dont think.
    Well done!!

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