Children? The more the merrier… or are large families selfish?



gemeinsam sind wir stark



This morning’s debate on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ was extremely short and didn’t do very much for debating large families, in my opinion.

Kicking off with the question of adoption; why don’t large families adopt instead of add to their family biologically (asked in not in that way but to that effect).  Why is that a large family issue?  Surely that could be asked of any person who chooses to have children – any number of children – or even perhaps, no children at all.  ‘Adopt and do your part in this ever-ailing world!’  Yes, true that there are many children waiting to be adopted but this isn’t a large family issue.  True, raise awareness of the need for adoptive families, but don’t make out that it is an easy process to go through because it isn’t.  It contains beaurocracy and red tape which can go on for years before an adoption is finalised here in the UK.  And for goodness sakes, don’t question me on my choice to have biological children whilst asserting that your own choice to birth a child rather than adopt is acceptable.  My children have as much right to be born as yours, no matter the number.  You don’t need an explanation from me any more than I do from you.

You can see the debate (which was a little difficult to speak in at times!) and the comments over on the ITV This Morning website for the next few days.

Time just seemed to run out too quickly and there were so many things unaddressed.  The point is, however, that I was not there to persuade people to have a lot of children and neither is that the intention of Colin Brazier, the Sky news reporter whose research for Westminster think-tank Civitas, led to the creation of the book Sticking Up for Siblings: Who’s Deciding the Size of Britain’s Families?

Colin and his wife Jo are the parents of six children, and in a recent article Colin extols the virtues of large families, and explains why he believes siblings are the greatest gift a parent can give to their child.  

Now, I didn’t get a chance to talk about how lack of attention isn’t an issue, as all too often it is overlooked that the dynamics of a large family are very different to that of a smaller family.  I didn’t have the opportunity to talk about the wealth of different characters under one roof, encouraging tolerance of those they disagree with or may not get on with as well as others, and the amazing, heart-stopping closeness they’ll demonstrate automatically – without pressure or feeling of ‘must-do’ – because to them this is simply how things are.

I didn’t have the opportunity to tell how the children could not fathom the idea of not having one another, when talking about only children.  Then again, apart from the oldest, nobody knows any different. To them it’s just life.

Colin Brazier, however, puts many points across in his article.  The article explains: ‘Siblings, he concluded, were one of the greatest gifts a parent could bestow on a child. And yet, he says, the predominant trend is clearly towards families with just one child. “A generation ago,” says Colin, “only children accounted for about one in five. Today it’s one in four, and the prediction is that in another generation it will be one in three.”‘

And he continues:  “There’s increasing pressure, and some of it is very subtle, on people to limit the size of their families to as few as one child – my contention is that there’s another side of the coin to explore,”

“We’re in danger of moving towards the one-child template as the gold standard of parenting, and I think we should be wary of that. We’re already seeing, for example, a limit on the number of children you can take to the swimming pool … if you’ve got a big family, as I have, you can easily find yourself breaking regulations when you take your own kids out.”

But lest his words threaten to lead us back to the only child vs siblings debate, we need not worry :  “I don’t want to demonise people who’ve only got one child,” he says. “I’m very aware of how sensitive what I’m saying is, particularly given how many children I’ve got. But my big fear is that we’re moving towards a time when the multi-child family isn’t going to be tolerated, and I think if we let that happen we’ll be ignoring the huge value that siblings bring.”

I look forward to reading Colin’s book on its release later this month.

So what do you think?  Are large families unfairly stereotyped, maybe even demonised themselves or simply just misunderstood?  Or do you believe that there isn’t actually an issue in how they are perceived?  And what do you believe to be the truth about large families?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


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5 thoughts on “Children? The more the merrier… or are large families selfish?

  1. I haven’t seen the debate on This Morning as I have lost a lot of respect for that programme since they put the awful Katie Hopkins on debating children’s names! But there is no reason why parents can’t have the choice in how many children they have. If your both in agreement and have the ability both physically and financially to have more than one child then there should be NOTHING stopping you including how many children you’re allowed to take to a swimming pool (stupid crazy H&S rule I expect! ) I would love a large family I currently have 3 children (two teens and a toddler) and some would say that’s a large family! But I’m planning my last child now (sadly no more due to me getting severe SPD in each pregnancy) and I’m already getting the whole ‘you’re brave/crazy’ comments!?! Anyway I think it’s down to the couple on how many children they have and no one elses decision x

  2. The number of children a couple choose to have is no one’s business but their own. 20 years ago it may have raised a few eyebrows to have 13 children but that is all. The ‘instant media’ age we live in now leads people to believe they have to express an opinion, whether they have one or not. Less than an hundred years ago large families were the norm and you were frowned upon if you didn’t have one. How times change. If you want a large family and can care for, love and support those children then I think you should be applauded. Large families are not for the faint hearted. x

  3. Hi,

    I watched it last night. That other lady was rather, er, ‘pushy’ !!!??? Adoption – oh yeah, because you can just go and ‘adopt’ like buying a baby from the supermarket.

    I have 1 child, and as you know he’s always begging to go & stay with you all – it’s the nearest he’ll get to siblings 😉

    DH and I are both only children, and have never ‘suffered’ – in fact – the thought of sharing {{{{{oooooooh}}}}} sends shivers down my spine 😉

    We all have our reasons for the size of our families, some NOT through choice, but we have what we have, and are what we are…….


  4. When I had one child I didn’t compare myself to people with several children. When I had two and then three I didn’t look down on those with just one or compare myself with those with more.

    I think these debates are pitting people against each other when there is no “winner”.

    Some people have one child and make a great job of that, others can’t cope with just one and make dreadful parents.

    Every family is unique and should celebrate the smiles and love that they share.

  5. I thought the other lady was incrediby rude. Sadly it was never going to be a proper debate as she spent the entire time interrupting and talking over you. You on the other hand came across really well and were a great example for all us big family mums.

    It’s a shame that you were having to constantly defend your right to have a large family while she constantly attacked you. After all, you didn’t have a go at her decision to just have one. And when did someone’s choice to have a large family give another person the right to be rude and offensive?

    My eldest daughter tweeted the show to say how she loves being the oldest of 9 but it wasn’t read out.

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