The Culture of the Large Family
The Unadulterated Truth About Large Family Life
Families have their own unique culture based upon educational, socioeconomic, and religious/ethical backgrounds. Another variant of familial culture is family size. Family size is a strong determinant in the parental attitudes toward offspring; the cultural, educational, and intellectual aspirations of the family;whether children are considered individually or as part of a cog among other factors.
In large families(6 or more children per household), parents are usually distant and have little involvement in the daily interaction and the raising of their children. Parental attention to children in the large family system is very minuscule or nonexistent. They often do not believe in nurturing and being affectionate towards their children because they consider this act "spoiling" children.
Parents of large families usually treat their children much rougher and harshly than parents of small families do. In my experience, I have never seen parents of a lot of children show any type of love and affection to their children. Indeed, it has been quite the opposite- I have observed parents with a lot of children being severely abrupt with them and barking at them.
Parents of large families are often stressed out and at the end of their ropes with their children. They do not view parenthood as a joy but as a tiresome burden. They are often perfunctory parents who view parenthood as a chore to be undertaken. They often do not see their children as joys but as onerous responsibilities.
My maternal grandmother and aunt-in-law are prime examples of this. Between them, they had eighteen children. They could not afford them financially and emotionally. They neither hugged nor showed any type of affection to their children. They were always stressed out and often barked at their children. Furthermore, they viewed their children not as joys but as onerous burdens of responsibility.
Typical parents of large families staunchly believe that children should raise themselves. The issue of children raising each other is de rigueur in large family culture. Parents just simply cannot be effective parents of a large brood of children. This task is extremely daunting for them so it is easier to let their children raise each other and let come what may. As a result of this, children from large families do not have the closeness of parental guidance and teaching that children from small families have.
Because of little parental involvement in the lives of children from large families, they are often left to their own devices. The average parent of a large family do not raise their children. Parents of large families often compel their oldest children to raise their younger siblings. As a result of this, many oldest children from large families have no normal childhood and/or adolescence. Oldest children from large families have the least freedom of all the birth signs.
Children in large families are viewed as a conglomerate mass. They are not viewed as precious, individual entities but as a cog of the group. They are inculcated that their individuality is of no consequence and unimportant and the group comes first. They are further taught not to have a sense of self because in the large family system, having a sense of self and individuality is considered selfish.
Children in large families are taught to ignore their needs and not to voice their wants. They further taught that they are last after everyone else. This rings true especially for oldest children in large families who often put everyone first before themselves. This indoctrination result in many children in large families having an extremely poor sense of self. This leads to them having very low self-esteem and being a doormat to others. Still other children growing up in large families elect to become anonymous nonentities as they are not noticed in their families anyway.
Sometimes, conversely, it often leads to many children in large families to developing an exaggerated sense of self to compensate for their familial upbringing. Because children in large families are indoctrinated to not to have a strong sense of self, constantly sharing their space and their personhood, many of them become quite selfish and territorial to compensate for their familial upbringing.
Parents of large families' primary concern is eking out a living and providing their children with only the bare rudiments of food, clothing, and shelter. Financial resources in large families are often stretched to the limit. Financial resources allocated in large families are very few and far between.
As there are very little monies in large families for the rudiments, there is definitely no monies left over for things such as cultural, educational, and intellectual activities. In large families, there is no money left for things such as cultural, educational, and intellectual activities. Such activities are not important in large families as the main emphasis is on pure animal survival. Children growing up in large families are often content with second hand clothes and inferior food because purchasing proper food and clothing can be quite expensive. Children in large families do not have the proper nutrition such as proteins and other essential vitamins. Their food is often powered, processed, and canned.
There are instances of children from large families going to bed hungry. There was a well-known celebrity, one of ten children, who reported that he and his siblings often went to bed hungry because his parents did not have monies allotted for food. On a syndicated talk show, a mother of eight children reported that her oldest children often went without food in order for the youngest children to eat. She also had no money for food and went on the show to ask for money to support her children. Many times the only sources of nutrition for children of large families are school breakfasts and lunches.
In addition to having inferior food and clothing, children in large families often have inadequate medical and dental care. To authenticate this, when I was attending elementary school, it was the children from large families who do not have private physicians and dentists. However, there was a school physician who was on call to examine these children. If it was not for this physician, these children would not have received any type of health care.
The average child from a large family lead a very penurious, precarious, and hardscrabble life. His/her environment is very meager and can be described as poverty stricken or near impoverished. He/she does not grow up in comfort. The concept of comfort is quite an anathema in the lives of large families. As a result of this familial environment, a child from a large family develops a poverty consciousness very early in life. This poverty consciousness translates into a child from a large family is used to very little and expect nothing more. He/she develops a bare survival consciousness in that he/she believes that obtaining the bare necessities is an onerous undertaking.
Many children from large families furthermore become very cynical. They do not view life as beautiful and welcoming but view living life as a hurdle to overcome. They always have to FIGHT to survive and live at the basic human level. A well known actor and producer reported that as the youngest of nine children in an impoverished family, he learned how to fight for his survival as soon as he could walk. This celebrity has a reputation of being unrefined and street tough which is par for the course for children of large families.
Life is a struggle to the average child of a large family. This results in many children from large families being drawn into deleterious and delinquent activities from very early ages. When I was a child, there was a boy, one of eleven children, who stole in order to obtain more money. In my elementary school, there was a girl ,one of six children, who regularly shook down more affluent students for lunch money because she did not have lunch money. The abovementioned well known actor, who is the youngest of nine children, reported that he sold drugs and stole in order to have an allowance. He added that he was in jail as was his other siblings!
Because children in large families grew up either in poverty or near poverty, they are often envious of more affluent children from smaller families. I have listed the abovementioned example of the girl who was one of six children who shook down more affluent classmates. This same girl also cut up a designer dress of a more affluent classmate. This girl usually made disparaging remarks of more affluent children from small families. It was obvious that this girl was extremely unhappy in her familial environment.
The average child of a large family are quite envious of children from small families who have a more socioeconomic affluent lifestyle. Oftentimes these children from large families who are impoverished call the more affluent children "spoiled" because the latter has a life more comfortable and free of struggle while the former must constantly struggle to make ends meet. It has been documented that large families are very envious and covetous of small families because of the latter's socioeconomic affluence.
The average large family has a life of constant struggle and expect everyone to do the same. A socioeconomically affluent life is beyond the purview, understanding, and desire of the average large family. Large families often defend their socioeconomically impoverished lifestyle and believe that it is vastly superior to other lifestyles and parents impart this philosophy to their children.
Children in large families have no privacy for this word is an anathema to them. They often live on top of each other. They must share rooms and property. This result in them having no concept of privacy and are used to living "in the open" so to speak. As a result of having no privacy at home, many children from large families often go out in order to obtain privacy and quiet. Many children in large families often become quite territorial when they leave home because they were not granted privacy in their youth.
The large family environment also encourage parochialism and insularity. Children in large families often have less friends than children in small families. Some of them have no friends at all. Children in large families associate mainly with each other. This means that the main influence in their lives is the family dynamic. As a result of associating mainly with siblings, children from large families develop a very narrow and parochial mindset in terms of life.
Many children from large families do not know how to interact with children and strangers outside of the family circle. A well-known actor, one of fourteen children, asserted that he was extremely shy around strangers and seldom interacted with them. An elementary school classmate, one of twenty children, frequently played alone. She seldom had any friends to speak of.
Many children from large families have mediocre to poor social skills with other children because they do not have much contract with other children outside of the family circle, only their siblings. Siblings tolerate behaviors that other children may scoff at and not tolerate. There are children from large families who prefer to only play with their siblings and not interact with other children. Oftentimes, teachers admonish these children to socialize with children outside of the family circle.
In the large family culture, children are extremely competitive for parental attention. This often results in manipulative behavior and other forms of upmanship. Children in large families often become quite territorial with each other in order to gain parental attention. The concept of children in large families cooperating with each other and having a united front is pure myth. There is more rivalry and upmanship among children in large families than in other family groups. In large families, children learn to become territorial and competitive in order to survive within the family constellation.
Favoritism, differential, and preferential treatment are rife in large families In large families, it is the oldest children who are the most harshly treated. They are assigned the role of family slave, maid, un pair, and mascot. They are expected to be on 24/7/365 with no time for themselves. Middle children in large families are usually anonymous or next to nonexistent. The only children who have it somewhat easier are youngest children. They are often babied and treated more indulgently by their parents than the other children. Furthermore, children in large families are twice as often tend to be neglected than children from small families. To reiterate, there is NO such thing as equal treatment in large families. Equal treatment in large families is an impossibility and a pipe dream.
Children from large families are not as advanced intellectually as children from small families are. There are many variables to this. Children in large families have little or no interaction with their parents but with other siblings. Studies have shown that the more children there is in the household, the more immature and less developed the home intellectual environment is. The average child in a large family often does not have parental guidance. As a result of this, they must navigate their way in life and often live by their wits, learning as they go.
Another variable in the low achievement of children from large families is there are seldom any books and other forms of intellectual paraphernalia in the home. Academic achievement and intellectual astuteness are simply not emphasized in the homes of large families as it is in the homes of small families. Average parents in large families are happy if their children just pass their courses as opposed to parents in small families who ascertain that their children make good grades and are top academic achievers. Earning good grades and being academic achievers are clearly not a priority in the homes of large families.
Clearly the attainment of education is unimportant in the large family culture. I remember in my elementary, junior high, and high school, the high academic achievers and honor students were from small families. I was one of them. Students who were from large families were classified as C students or worse. They were either near or at the bottom of their classes. To reiterate, academic achievement is not important in the homes of large families but being adapt at everyday survival is.
To say the least, children who come from large families do not value reading and other intellectual activities. I know people who come from large families who have not read a book if it was not related to school. Children from large families are taught to be social and play and that academic achievement is secondary to this. My maternal aunt, who is one of ten children, did not believe in reading but only in socializing. She was the one who always told me to go outside and play while I preferred to be reading and gaining knowledge. Reading and the concept of knowledge was an anathema to her. Another maternal aunt, her sister, also derided me for constantly reading.
Because of the intense competition and upmanship among children from large families, they are more likely to be bullies than children from small families. In the book THE BULLYING PROBLEM, HOW TO DEAL WITH DIFFICULT CHILDREN by Alan Train, it illustrates that children from large families are more likely to be bullies because they had to constantly compete for the attention of their parents with their siblings. In the large family culture, it is the survival of the fittest and strongest. This means that siblings must constantly outdo and outmaneuver each other to curry parental favor. This behavior often includes verbal and/or physical abuse. Another sociologist maintained that the larger the family, the more intense the sibling rivalry.
Girls in large families are treated as chattel and indentured slaves. They are often delegated to traditional feminine roles such as housekeeping and caretaking. They are seldom encouraged to pursue outside and career interests. They learn that the role of a woman is a subordinate one to the male.
Education beyond the rudimentary aspects are discouraged in girls from large families. They are inculcated by their parents to be passive wives and mothers. This result in women from large families not being as career and achievement oriented as their peers from small families. Many girls from large families view being a female in a very negative sense. They are taught to accept their roles without questions and to bear its burdens.
Boys in large families are inculcated with the premise that men are superior to women. They are usually given more leeway than females are. They usually do not have to cook, do housecleaning, nor caretaking chores. They are often assigned to perform more traditionally masculine tasks. They are taught that women are inferior to them and that their duty is to subjugate them. This results in males who grew up in large families being very chauvinistic and traditional in outlook towards women.
In large family culture, there is a survival and poverty mentality, not a prosperity mentality. Parents of large families do not care about their children's educational and economic future. They only believe in living tenuously at the mere subsistence level. The attitude of these parents is that their children do the best they can, if not, tough. All these parents are concerned about is just reproducing children en masse with the forethought to properly nurture, educate, and prepare their brood of children for a profitable future. The average parent of a large family just believe in instant gratification without any forethought of their children's futures. They act before they think as opposed to the small family culture in which parents think before they act.
Children from large families also have a devil may care attitude towards their future. The average person from a large family usually did not attend college and other forms of tertiary education. He/she usually finish high school if he/she does that. As a result of low education status, he/she is relegated to dead end jobs without any prospect of advancement. This translates into children from large families being in the same poverty and/or near poverty status of their early familial environment.
As parents, children from large families often adapt the nonchalance of their parents. They, too, are of the belief that children should raise themselves. They often view parenthood as a perfunctory duty instead of a joyful experience of interacting with their children. They learn from their parents that parenthood is joyless and onerous. Parents who come from large families are the LEAST interactive with their children as they have learned from example.
Children from large families are very clannish and insular. They have the LEAST friends. They prefer to remain and have friendships within the immediate family circle. They are often mistrustful of people outside of the family circle. They are almost incestuous(in a proverbial way) regarding the family. Their only friends and associates are siblings as they do venture outside of the family circle. The average person in a large family is often unfriendly, wary, and extremely distrustful of outsiders.
In conclusion, the culture of the large family is a unique and strange one to say the least. In the large family, there is a strong family dynamic. Children in large families because of their familial environment and conditioning, learn that life is often harsh and unwelcoming with a constant struggle for survival. This causes them to be very cynical and rough around the edges.
The large family culture also encourages a poverty consciousness because there are few resources in relation to the familial population. Children in large families learn to survive and live on very little. However, this could lead to them indulging in criminal, deleterious, and delinquent activities.
Parents are often uninvolved and less nurturing in large families than in small families. There is little or no parental interaction in large families. Children mainly interact with their siblings in large families. They also raise and teach each other. Because of little parental interaction and intense sibling interaction, children in large families are not as intellectually advanced as children in small families who interact with their parents are.
Intellectual and academic achievement are not greatly stressed in large families because the emphasis is on mere survival. The large family environment stresses street smarts over intellectual acumen. In large families, unequal treatment and favoritism are rife because there are more children per household competing for parental favor. As a result of this, there is intense sibling rivalry and competition which often includes verbal and/or physical abuse. Studies show that children from large families tend to be bullies because they often are in intense competition with siblings for the attention of their parents.
Children in large families often do not have outside friends as they only interact with their siblings. They are often more insular and more parochial in their interactions and outlook than children from small families who often have friends and interact with children outside the family circle. They usually are distrustful of relating to people outside the family circle and can be considered highly clannish.
The large family culture further encourages the strict demarcation of gender roles for women and men. Women and men raised in large families are more traditional regarding such roles. Women in large families are inoculated to be submissive and passive regarding their femininity while males in large families are inoculated that the male is superior and is in charge of the woman.
Large family culture encourages the culture of poverty which means instant gratification over concerns about the future. Parents of large families are usually not concerned about their children's futures. It is their motto that their children swim or sink. This nonchalance is transferred to their children who adapt the same pattern in their approach to life and parenting.
© 2011 Grace Marguerite Williams
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