In Denial -The Majority of People From Large Families Had Unhappy Childhoods Even Though They Purport The Opposite
PUTTING UP A FRONT TO COVER UP UNHAPPINESS
ALL IS CLEARLY NOT EQUAL IN LARGE FAMILIES
LACK OF PRIVACY IN LARGE FAMILIES
IMPOVERISHMENT GREATER IN LARGE FAMILIES
Separating the Truth From Fantasy
Family memories are oftentimes favorite discussions. People love to regal each other with tales of their childhoods. Family memories are often the titles of books and memoirs. Oftentimes family memories are happy ones. Sometimes, family memories are an equal mixture of elation and sadness. There are still other family memories which can be described as sad and/or horrific.
People are programmed to state that their family memories are happy even though such as not the case. They are often loathe to reveal that their childhood is less than happy. It is part of denial. It is better psychologically to say that your childhood was happy than acknowledge the undeniable fact and truth that your childhood was less than ideal.
People from large to very large families (6 or more children per household) are very fond of stating how happy they were as children even their childhood betrayed this. Everyday, you hear them detailing how wonderful it is to grow up with lots of siblings and having a full family experience. They further elaborate that their childhood was fantastic even though they had next to nothing and barely keeping their heads above water socioeconomically.
However, when questioned further about the veracity of these statements, these same people look askance at you, using defensive mechanisms and adamantly extol the virtues of their childhood. Then they relent, admitting that their childhood was less than ideal. It is a fact that the majority of people from large to very large families when questioned intensely, remark that their childhood was lousy ranging from terrible to downright abysmal.
People who came from large families report that they were unhappy. They report that they did not receive the prerequisite parental attention. They further state that they often had to compete with a huge number of siblings for the little attention of their parents. They exhort that they had little or no privacy within the home environment. They also remarked that they often had to live from hand to mouth.
Many oldest children in large to very large families report having to raise their younger siblings. They often remarked that there was no such thing as a normal childhood and adolescence for them. While their counterparts from small families had school, cultural, and extracurricular activities, they were often saddled with caretaking duties. The concept of childhood and adolescence is a total anathema to oldest children in large to very large families.
Depending upon the number of siblingships in the large to very large family, oldest children often assume adult responsibility starting from middle childhood, even early childhood. There was an instance in which an oldest child at 6 years of age with a number of siblings started caring for her younger siblings and changing their diapers. Isn't early childhood a time for exploration instead of changing diapers?
Oldest children in large to very large families often do not receive parental attention. They are considered too old for this since parental care goes to the younger siblings. Oldest children are either left on their own completely or are assigned to raise the younger siblings. Oldest children have no life of their own to speak of. Their childhood and adolescent years are devoted to raising their younger siblings. The result of this is many oldest children plot to escape from this stifling familial environment as soon as possible. Some elect to attend a boarding school, run away from home, or opt for an early marriage.
It gets even worse. There are some oldest children in large to very large families who want to live independent lives; however, the parents NEED them at home to raise and advise younger siblings. There was a letter to Ann Landers in THE DAILY NEWS sometime ago. A woman, who was the oldest of nine children, lamented that she never had a life of her own because she was busy raising her younger siblings. She never left home nor married. She lived in the shadows and never had her own individual dreams fulfilled. There is one succinct word to describe the oldest child in large to very large families-OVERBURDENED.
Forget about the middle child in the large to very large family is often overlooked and forgotten. He/she is often considered an anonymous persona non grata. His/her parents are so overwhelmed with their brood that he/she is often left to his/her own devices. Case in point, my maternal uncle, who was somewhere in the middle of 10 children, was slow mentally. However, he never received the prerequisite care because my maternal grandparents had more younger siblings to raise. As a result, he was such a poor student that he subsequently had to drop out of school. He never developed the prerequisite academic skills. He was left on his own from a very early age.
A second case in point was an elementary school classmate of mine who was one of 20 children. She was also somewhere in the middle. She raised herself and had to learn everything on her own. She was seen by teachers and classmates alike as feral and uncouth. From a very early age, she had to take care of herself as her parents were unable to do so as there were younger siblings in the house. Furthermore, her mother never interfaced with her at all-all she did was mindlessly reproduce children without any thought to their welfare.
Middle children in large to very large families only have it a little bit better than oldest children. They either are overlooked and ignored or assigned to help the oldest child raise and care for the younger siblings. The only person who acknowledge LOVING being in the large to very large family is you guessed it-the YOUNGEST CHILD.
Youngest children in large to very large families have the best of all worlds. They are the babies and the jewels of the family. They often have a much longer childhood and adolescence than their oldest and middle siblings. They also have the MOST FREEDOM and the LEAST RESPONSIBILITIES of all the siblingships in the large to very large family.
Youngest children in large to very large families receive the most affection and attention from their parents. Parents of large to very large families are often more indulgent towards their youngest children than they are to their oldest and middle children. Youngest children in such families are chastised less, if at all, and allowed to get away with things that their oldest and middle siblings would be punished for.
However, there is a downside to this. Because of the preferential treatment that the youngest child in such family receives, there is often jealously on the part of the older siblings. Sometimes this can result in the older siblings bullying the youngest siblings. Older siblings often resent the youngest sibling because he/she often have an easier life than they did at similar ages. Many times, oldest/older siblings are often harshly punished for things that the youngest siblings does.
In large to very large families, there is an increased incidence of favoritism. This is because in large to very large families, there is a strict dichotomy of birth order and status among the oldest, middle, and youngest children. Each child is aware of his/her status within the family and parents reinforce this.
Parents of large to very large families have strict expectations of each child based upon birth order status. Oldest children in large to very large families are usually expected to be adults at a very early age and not to be childlike. They are expected by parents to raise the younger siblings without question. They also bear the brunt if their younger siblings misbehave.
Parents of large to very large families because they are overwhelmed by the family environment, often overlook their middle child. The situation of a middle child or children in large to very large families is a nebulous one to say the least. They are either left to raise themselves or forced to assist their oldest sibling in raising the younger siblings.
To reiterate, parents of large to very large families indulge their youngest child. Youngest children in large to very large families are often the centers of their parent's world. They are pampered, indulged, and spoiled in ways foreign to that of the oldest and middle child. In other words, youngest children in such families have it made in the shade. A further revelation: the youngest child in large to very large families often receive the most education of all the siblings and is often the most successful. There are many verified cases in which the youngest child in large to very large families was the ONLY ONE to attend college and to have a profession while the other siblings are living from day to day.
Many people in large to very large families decry the lack of privacy and space in their early familial environment. They reported having to live on top of each other. Children raised in large to very large families have no concept of personal space and privacy. These concepts are Greek to people who were raised in large to very large families. Cramped and crowded home environments are the norm for children in large to very large families.
As a result of this, many children from such families are always out and about. For example, the abovementioned classmate, who was one of 20 children, was always out of the house. I remember she called me one day while I was in high school, asking me why was I always home. I replied that I LOVED being at home. She could not understand this at all. She had to escape because she had no peace and privacy at home while I, as an only child, ALWAYS had peace and privacy at home.
Children from large to very large families often have inadequate and nonnutrious food and second hand clothing because their parents often do not have monies allotted for these things. In the average large to very large family, financial resources are stretched very thin. Children in such families have what they can get in terms of material resources Socioeconomic affluence is nonexistent in the homes of large to very large families. Such families are often at the lower socioeconomic level, eking out a living and living just above the poverty level! This results in many children from large to very large families working at a very early age to have spending money. Many others resort to worse behaviors i.e. shaking down more affluent children for spending money.
In summation, if the truth be told the majority of people from large to very large families actually hate their status. Who could blame them. Children in large to very large families are considered as cogs in the family machine. They do not receive adequate and individual attention.
They also have no sense of individuation nor privacy. Their economic and lifestyle status is often very precarious in that they live at a mere subsistence level. Furthermore, dependent upon their birth order status, they receive differential and/or preferential treatment which often impact on their self-esteem and personhood later on in life.
- The Large Family is Pathological, Part 2/2
I hope that this is going to be my last hub on the large family. We are all too familiar with the extreme megafamilies presented on cable television such as the Duggars and the Bates. The Duggars of Arkansas now have a total of NINETEEN children....
- The Large Family is Pathological, Part 1/2
Many decades ago, the large family was revered by society. Parents were praised for having lots of children. Psychologists and sociologists heaped emulations on parents that how beautiful and altruistic they were for bringing so many children into...
- The Inequality Of The Large Family System
Children in large to very large families are cast into hierarchal roles. As opposed to children in small families who have an equal footing, children in large families are unequal status. Depending upon the children's individual birth order in larg
- Parents Who Have Megafamilies Are Putting Their Children At A Severe Disadvantage
Despite the authenticated studies of psychologists, social scientists, and sociologists stating that there are myriad disadvantages of large families from being economically disadvantaged to abysmally low academic achievement, there are parents who..
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© 2011 Grace Marguerite Williams
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