5 Ways Large/Very Large Families Tend to be MORE Dysfunctional,Even Pathological Than Small & Medium Families,Pt 1/2
The Large/Very Large Family in a Postmodern Context
The Large/Very Large Family in Today's Context
In part 1/2 of this hub, I will discuss the large/very large family as it relates to the postmodern, 21st century American society and culture and the myriad stresses that such families endure. I also will address 2 of 5 ways that large families tend to be more dysfunctional and even pathological than small and medium families in terms of parentification of children and differential/preferential of children based upon birth order and gender. Lastly in part 1/2 of this hub, I will explain the occurrence of favoritism, even scapegoating of children in large/very large families. The definition of large/very large families is 6 and more children per family.
In this postmodern, 21st century American society and/or culture, large/very large families of 6 and more children per family are a rarity. Small and medium families of 1 to 4 children per family comprise the majority of American families. However, there are some sociocultural and/or religious groups who do have large/very large families because of their cultural and/or religious values. As those sociocultural and/or religious groups become more educated, socioeconomically affluent, and/or assimilated, such sociocultural groups are also opting for small and/or medium sized families.
The large/very large family has outlived its usefulness and is going by way of the dinosaur. In this era of extremely advanced contraceptive technologies, it is very easy to prevent unwanted, unplanned pregnancies. With such advances in birth control technology, it is irresponsible, even inexcusable to have a large number of children that one cannot reasonably support, take care of, and give the prerequisite individualized attention to. Intelligent and educated people know the detriments and detriments of large/very large families and choose to have smaller families for its overall benefits and advantages.
Even religious people are choosing to have small or medium families because they believe in having children that they can afford to support emotionally, psychologically, and/or economically. They feel that it is wrong to have children that they are unable to support in the three aforementioned ways. They take issue with their respective religions regarding having large/very large families. They even contend that such religious teaching is totally atavistic, if not woefully misguided. However, there are extremely conservative, fundamentalist, and traditional religious people who believe in, even exhort having large/very large families. Besides religious people, there are people who know that they are unable to afford large/very large families yet insist in having them for some psychological reason.
Large/Very Large Families Can Be.........SO STRESSFUL
The STRESS of the Large/Very Large Family
In large/very large families, parents and children are both stressed. It can be quite daunting for parents to raise a large number of children by themselves. They are simply outnumbered by their children. The parents' emotional resources are stretched thin, trying to give each of their children the attention such children need. Many parents of large/very large families feel that it is impossible to devote the needed individualized time and attention to each child. Also, they can be emotionally exhausted as they attempt to raise their children effectively and properly. They can also react to such emotional stress by being abusive to their children as they are taxed so that they are exhausted mentally as well as emotionally.
Furthermore in large/very large families, the economic burden is placed primarily upon the husband/father. He is the sole breadwinner and support of a large number of children. He is stressed, wondering how he is going to adequately and effectively support a large number of children on one income since the wife/mother is unable to work because her sole role and responsibility is raising those children. Because of this economic stress, he can become resentful towards his wife because in his mind, she is irresponsible in having many children which he can barely support. He may even resent the children, seeing them as burdens and extra mouths.
Large/very large families can be stressful for children. Oldest and older children have to assume adult responsibilities way before they are ready. It is not unusual for children in large/very large families to assume arduous adult responsibilities as young children. They know that their parents cannot effective raise and support them so they must come up to that plate. It is common for children in large/very large families to raise their siblings and even have afterschool and weekend jobs to help their parents out and relieve their stress. They often start work at an age when most children are playing, having fun, and generally being children.
1. Large/Very Large Families......PARENTIFIED Children
1. Large/Very Large Families Create..........Parentified Children
Next, I will delineate in the following segments of this hub as to the 5 ways that large/very large families tend to be more dysfunctional, even pathological than medium and small families. In large/very large families as opposed to medium and small families, there is the phenomena of parentified children. Parentified children are children who assume the responsibilities that parents ought to assume but cannot, do not, or will not. Such children are oftentimes pressed into adult and/or parental roles at a time when they are supposed to have an unencumbered childhood. Parentified children exist in all types of families-small, medium, and large/very large. However, parentified children are more commonplace in large/very large families than in small and medium families.
In large/very large families as opposed to small and medium families, parents have more children than they can effectively raise by themselves. It can be quite daunting, even overwhelming for two parents to raise a large number of children. It simply is not humanely possible for them to do this. This means that they must have some type of help in raising such a large number of children. If they are wealthy, they often enlist nannies and au pairs to help them raise their large/very large family. Even so, nannies and au pairs cannot raise such a large number of children by themselves. This means that the oldest/older children are enlisted or even compelled to help raise or even parent their siblings. In poorer large/very large families, this is a common practice for oldest/older siblings to help or even assume full parental duties over younger siblings.
It is not unusual for oldest/older children to be second, even the unsung, parent to their younger siblings. Many parents of large/very large families even delegate full parental responsibilities to oldest/older children, even forgetting that such children are children themselves. Oldest/older children in large/very large families do not have a normal childhood and adolescence as their counterparts in small and medium families have. They oftentimes must be there for their parents and/or siblings 24/7/2365. Some parents of large/very large families continuously have children, fully aware that they are not the parents who are going to parent such children at all. All they do is to have the children and give them to the oldest/older children to raise. What they fail to realize that their oldest/older children resent, even hate them for robbing them of a normative childhood and adolescence. There are many oldest/older children who leave home as soon as they are able to experience the freedom they did not have as children and adolescents.
2. Large/Very Large Families....QUITE Differential, Even UNEQUAL Treatment of Children
2A. Birth Order as it Relates to Large/Very Large Families
1-Oldest/Older Children in Large/Very Large Families
2-Middle Children in Large/Very Large Families
3-Youngest/Younger Children in Large/Very Large Families
2B. The Role Gender Plays in Large/Very Large Families
2. Large/Very Large Families.............Children TREATED Differentially
In large/very large families there is more differential treatment of each child depending upon his/her particular birth order and gender. Yes, there is differential, even preferential treatment in small and medium families. But such treatment is not to the extent that such treatment is in large/very large families. Also, in small and medium sized families for the most part, oldest, middle, and youngest children are treated more or less equally. In small and medium families, there is an equal parity among oldest, middle, and youngest children.
However, in large/very large families, there is a pronounced unequal parity in the treatment of oldest, middle, and youngest children which is glaringly apparent and obvious. Some children in large/very large families will given responsibilities far before than they ready while other children will have prolonged childhoods, coasting through their childhood and adolescence. Still more children will be considered anonymous, fade in the background, and even completely fall through the cracks.
Children are also treated differentially by their parents according to gender. In small and medium families, daughters and sons are more or less treated equally and considered as individuals in their own right. Although there are exceptions to this, but on average, there is an equal parity between daughters and sons in small and medium families. In large/ very large families, daughters are oftentimes viewed, even treated as second class citizens as opposed to sons who receive preferential, even deferential treatment by their parents.
There are children who experience favoritism in their families. In small and medium families, any birth order can be favored by their families. It can be oldest, middle, or youngest children. A child's particular birth order does not preclude him/her from being parental favorites. In large/very large families, oldest/older children are oftentimes cast aside, even discarded and middle children left to their own devices while the youngest/younger children are the ones who are treated the most preferentially by their parents.
Unfortunately, there are children who are unfavored, even scapegoated in their families. Being an unfavored, even scapegoated child occurs in all sized families-small, medium, and large/very large. However, there are social and family dynamics in large/very large families which increase the likelilhood of some children being unfavored and perhaps scapegoated by their parents. The situations of large/very large families can be stressing, daunting, and even paralyzing for parents and the reality of the large/very large family environment create a toxic environment in which scapegoating of some children are normative behaviors.
2A. Birth Order in Large/Very Large Families
In large/very large families, a child's ordinal birth order is a very strong influential factor, oftentimes determining and even deciding as to how he/she will be deemed and treated by his/her parents. In the large/very large family environment, parents oftentimes treat their children very differentially according to the latter's respective birth order. Children's individual birth orders within large/very large families determines whether their parents will be overly harsh, even extremely exacting towards them; be indifferent to, even ignoring them; or treating them very preferentially, even idolizing them.
In large/very large families, oldest/older children are treated the most differentially by their parents. They are continuously dethroned by succeeding younger siblings. Besides being dethroned, they are often cast aside, even discarded in favor of their younger siblings. They are expected to assume adult roles and responsibilities- and FAST! They are subjected to very high, even strenuous expectations placed upon them by their parents. They are the ones who must be adults while they are still children. Oldest/older children in the large/very large family environment are treated the most differentially of all large family birth orders. As a matter of fact, they are treated the most differentially of ALL birth orders period.
For the typical oldest/older child in large/very large families, a normal childhood and adolescence is an unheard and foreign concept. They are adults from middle childhood on. They seldom have the normal interaction with their parents that their counterparts in small and medium families have with their parents. Many oldest/older children in large/very large families are not shown affection or even hugged by their parents. Many parents of large/very large families deem shows of parental affection to their oldest/older children to be quite unnecessary, if not downright infantile.
2. Middle Children
To say that in large/very large families, middle children are overlooked is the understatement of the millennium. To put it more succinctly, middle children in large/very large families oftentimes fade into the familial background, get lost in the family shuffle, and/or even fall through the familial cracks. It is middle children in large/very large families who must learn early independence as their parents sure will not be there for them as they have other children who need them more.
Middle children in large/very large families must learn to navigate and survive, even thrive in their particular familial environment. They learn very early in life that the only people they have to depend upon are THEMSELVES. They realize that if they swim, fine or they drown, well that is tough. These are the children who raise, teach, and even parent themselves. In essence, they really have no other recourse but to take care of themselves. Those who are strong, thrive in their familial environment while those who are weak, simply go under-falling through the familial cracks to a point of no return.
3. Youngest/Younger Children
Youngest/younger children in large/very large families are adored, indulged, and even spoiled by their parents. Such children are deemed the precious ones in their families. They can be even the center of attention. However, that all depends on the particular family. In some large/very large families, parents are so tired after giving birth to their youngest/younger child/children that they abdicate all parental responsibility as far as the latter goes, giving them to the oldest/older children to parent. If such is the case, the oldest/older children will be perfunctory parents to them. Such youngest/younger children will only receive the necessary care and no more.
Typical youngest/younger children in large/very large families are the ones who are treated more preferentially by their parents and even their siblings. They are the ones who have it good compared to their oldest/older and middle siblings. They have the longest, most carefree childhoods and adolescence. They also have the opportunities that their older siblings did not have especially in terms of economic and educational opportunities. It is quite common in large/very large families that youngest/younger children were the only ones to have attained high educational and success levels out of all his/her siblings. Their parents, more or less, have more time to spend with them in their formative years than their older children. Many times, youngest/younger children in large/very large families are resented, even hated by their older siblings because they had opportunities and other accoutrements that the latter never had.
2B. The Role of Gender in Large/Very Large Families
In large/very large families, birth order is not the only determinant as to how each child in the family is treated. A child's gender is another factor as to how he/she is treated in his/her family. In the average large/very large family, boys are treated more preferentially than girls. Boys in large/very large families are seen and treated as worthy, even first class citizens while girls are viewed and treated as mere subordinates, even inferior to boys. In large/very large families, gender roles are strongly pronounced, even demarcated. Also gender roles are highly emphasized with boys and girls knowing their specific gender place within their particular familial order and scheme. In large/very large families, boys assume and perform functions and tasks that are far different from the functions and tasks that girls assume and perform.
In large/very large families, daughters are not viewed as equal to nor as important as sons. Their only roles are that of helpers and assistants to boys and men. They are not respected, valued, nor treated as individuals in their own right. They are inculcated that women are never as important nor vital as men are. The needs of girls in large/very large families are oftentimes considered secondary to that of their male counterparts. They may be even deemed to be mere appendages of the males in their families. Parents of large/very large families view girls as only suitable for roles as wives and mothers. Girls in large families are seldom encourage to attain a high level of education. They are only given the most rudimentary and necessary education to fulfill their feminine roles. They are also given very little freedom in their families.
Boys in large/very large families are inculcated that they are somehow better, even superior to girls and women. They are given freedom, even carte blanche by their families. It is reasoned by their parents that they are boys so let them play and explore, generally doing what boys ought to do. They are also given less responsibilities and duties than their female counterparts. They are afforded preferential, even deferential treatment because they are male. They are the ones who are encouraged to obtain an education because they will someday be husbands and fathers.
2C. Favoritism in Large/Very Large Families
2C. Favoritism in Large/Very Large Families
In large/very large families, favoritism is very prevalent, even rife. It is also rampant, pronounced, and very obvious. In large/very large families, there is incessant and intense competition for what is already very scarce parental attention, time, and resources.There are more children vying, even fighting for fewer familial resources. As a result, siblings exercise one-upmanship and gamesmanship to see if they would be deemed deserving and worthy of their parents' attention, time, and resources.
In large/very large families, some children are bound to be parental favorites. In the large/very large family environment, children's ages and even birth order are taken into consideration as to who will be the favorite child or children. Oldest/older children in large/very large families are less likely to be parental favorites. They are considered to be protoadults who really do not need their parents as there are children more deserving of such parental care and attention. Middle children in large family are mostly ignored, even greatly overshadowed. They know that they must be on their own, no questions asked. It is usually the youngest/younger children who are parental favorites as they viewed to be more lovable, approachable, and even fragile. They are deemed by their parents to be more worthy of attention as they are "only babies" and cannot possibly take care of themselves and need looking after. They can be even elevated above the other children in their families as they are viewed as special, even precious by their parents and even other siblings.
2D.Large/Very Large Families & Incidents of Scapegoating
2D. Scapegoating in Large/Very Large Families
In large/very large families, there are children who are unfavored, even scapegoated by their parents. These children are objects of their parents' negative emotions and feelings. Such can encompass dislike, indifference, resentment, and even hatred. These children are oftentimes treated more differentially in the very worst manner from the other children in the family. They are even deemed to be the odd children out by their families.
Such children can be given the emotional, even mental and psychological cold shoulder by their parents. They can be even subtly or overtly abused by their parents. They are oftentimes punished more harshly for things while the other siblings receive more lenient, even no punishments for. They can be targeted or even blamed for things by their parents for anything including dire, penurious economic situations, a slight mishap, or just parents' having a bad day.
There are varied reasons why some children in large/very large families are unfavored, even scapegoated by their parents. They have different, even opposite characteristics and personalities from their parents and their siblings. They may even have different, even opposite beliefs, outlooks, and viewpoints from that of their parents and siblings. They can possess outstanding, even prodigious talents and gifts that other members in their families do not have. They may be unwanted children seen by their parents as extra family expenditure. They can even have disabilities and other challenges which the parents cannot handle given their familial situation.
In the concluding part of this hub, I will delineate the remaining 3 of 5 ways that large/very large families tend to be more dysfunctional, even pathological than small and medium families. Such ways include very little or individualized parental attention, putting little or no value on individuality and self and having a very poor or no sense of self. and having to fend for, take care of, and support oneself very early.
© 2015 Grace Marguerite Williams
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