The Inequality Of The Large Family System

In large families, there is NO SUCH thing as equal treatment.
In large families, there is NO SUCH thing as equal treatment.
Many people who grew up in large & very large families complained or were nonplussed about the unequal treatment received at the hands of their parents.
Many people who grew up in large & very large families complained or were nonplussed about the unequal treatment received at the hands of their parents.
Children in large & very large families are often in intense competition for parental attention. Parental resources are often stretched emotionally thin among a large number of children.Some children will receive attention while others will not.
Children in large & very large families are often in intense competition for parental attention. Parental resources are often stretched emotionally thin among a large number of children.Some children will receive attention while others will not.
Oldest children in large & very large families are burdened with caretaking duties & other responsibilities.They have the SHORTEST childhoods  & are expected to be ADULTS early.They have to put their siblings' wants, needs, & desires FIRST.
Oldest children in large & very large families are burdened with caretaking duties & other responsibilities.They have the SHORTEST childhoods & are expected to be ADULTS early.They have to put their siblings' wants, needs, & desires FIRST.
Many parents of large & very large families feel that their oldest children DON'T need them at all.They seldom interact with their oldest except to give them caretaking & other responsibilities. Oldest children in large families are often neglected.
Many parents of large & very large families feel that their oldest children DON'T need them at all.They seldom interact with their oldest except to give them caretaking & other responsibilities. Oldest children in large families are often neglected.
Oldest children in large & very large families have the MOST STRESS.They must be ON 24/7/365 for their parents & siblings. They are underappreciated & overutlilized by their families.
Oldest children in large & very large families have the MOST STRESS.They must be ON 24/7/365 for their parents & siblings. They are underappreciated & overutlilized by their families.
While oldest children in large & very large families are inundated with responsibilities EARLY ON,youngest children in such families have LITTLE or NO familial responsibilities. They are treated very preferentially by their parents.
While oldest children in large & very large families are inundated with responsibilities EARLY ON,youngest children in such families have LITTLE or NO familial responsibilities. They are treated very preferentially by their parents.
Youngest children in large & very large families report being the happiest. Of course, they have the LEAST familial responsibilities, having a freer and less encumbered childhood & adolescence than their oldest/older siblings.
Youngest children in large & very large families report being the happiest. Of course, they have the LEAST familial responsibilities, having a freer and less encumbered childhood & adolescence than their oldest/older siblings.
Youngest children in large & very large families are often the parental favorites.They are coddled& indulged LONGER than the oldest/older children in the family.This often causes resentment of the latter towards the fomer.
Youngest children in large & very large families are often the parental favorites.They are coddled& indulged LONGER than the oldest/older children in the family.This often causes resentment of the latter towards the fomer.
Middle children in large & very large families get lost in the shuffle.They are oftentimes overlooked & ignored. They are totally anonymous to both their parents & siblings.
Middle children in large & very large families get lost in the shuffle.They are oftentimes overlooked & ignored. They are totally anonymous to both their parents & siblings.
The status of middle children in large & very large families can be quite nebulous to say the least.They have to learn to make THEIR OWN WAY in the family dynamic.
The status of middle children in large & very large families can be quite nebulous to say the least.They have to learn to make THEIR OWN WAY in the family dynamic.
Many middle children in large & very large families decide to fade into the background while others become very aggressive & attention seeking to obtain their place in the family.
Many middle children in large & very large families decide to fade into the background while others become very aggressive & attention seeking to obtain their place in the family.
In large & very large families, there is an unequal parity based upon familial status. There are different parental expectations of each child based upon his/her respective familial status/birth order.
In large & very large families, there is an unequal parity based upon familial status. There are different parental expectations of each child based upon his/her respective familial status/birth order.
Large & very large families are very hierarchical in nature. In large & very large families, sibling roles are more fixed & rigid with either positive or negative results & outcomes.Each sibling knows his/her role & place within the family.
Large & very large families are very hierarchical in nature. In large & very large families, sibling roles are more fixed & rigid with either positive or negative results & outcomes.Each sibling knows his/her role & place within the family.

It is SIMPLY IMPOSSIBLE for Parents of Large to Very Large Families to Treat All Their Children Equally

Most people who grew up in large and very large families(6 or more children per household) always maintained that they were "loved" and their parents "gave them individualized attention". This is their public face and persona. Many people who grew up in large families and very large families are in DEEP DENIAL. When you hear people talk about growing up in large families, they try to paint a picture perfect image of their families.

However, PRIVATELY, many people who grew up in large and very large families complain about the inequality of treatment received from their parents. Many people even resented their parents by having more children than they could properly care for. It is a fact that many oldest daughters in large and very large families actually hate their mothers for placing such an onus on them.

Children usually have it very rough in large and very large families. Economic resources are stretched to the limit because there are a massive amount of people competing for the same parental resources. Sociological studies authenticate that large and very large families are poor to impoverished. As a result of the fierce competition for their parents' financial resources, older children in large families often have to do without. There have been instances of older children in large and very large families going without the basic necessities so that the younger children can have them. In large and very large families, oldest children are left to provide for themselves from a very young age as their parents are unable to do so.

Furthermore, in large and very large families, oldest children are hugged the least by their parents. Many parents of large and very large families believe that their oldest children do not need them at all. The average parent of large and very large families seldom interact with their oldest children except to give them caretaking and other familial responsibilities. Oldest children are the second most neglected children in large and very large families. Many parents of large and very large families believe that they do not have to spend time with their oldest children because they are "not babies" anymore so their children do not need them.

Oldest children in large and very large families are often the most unappreciated children. Their parents expect them to be available 24/7/365 to cater and raise their younger siblings. To reiterate, oldest children in large to very large families are "parents" from the age of six. There have been instances of people from large families stating that they changed diapers and cared for their younger siblings from early childhood.

My mother, who is the oldest of ten children, maintained that at the age of six, her mother assigned her housekeeping and cooking duties. She was also forced to be the family caretaker. As soon she became a teenager, she abruptly left for boarding school and never looked back. My mother never liked domestic life and she is constantly going out. When she got married, she seldom cooked, it was my father who cooked and did the household chores. He did not mind staying at home and wondered when my mother was always going someplace or another. Kim Wayans, the oldest of ten siblings in the Wayans clan, stated that as a child, she always had a sibling on her arm and/or tagging along.

As parents have more and more children, they become overwhelmed by the sheer number of their children and relinquish the raising of their children to their oldest children. The parents have it easy. They just reproduce and reproduce without caring about the stress they put on their oldest children.

Oldest children in large and very large families often have the most stress. Many oldest children when they become adults expressed great resentment and anger at their parents. I compare the status of the oldest child in large to very large families to that being a slave in the antebellum South and that of being a forced laborer in a Nazi concentration camp. Oldest children in large and very large families are overworked and unappreciated by their parents. It is the dictum of the average parent in large and very large families is the OLDEST CHILD should be doing this things and THEY should not be paid for this.

In large families, there is intense sibling rivalry and backstabbing because a large amount of children are competing for the attention of two parents. Parents in large and very large families do not love all their children equally. In fact, parents treat some of their children more indulgently, spoiling them while they are more neglectful, harsh, and punitive towards others. Yes, Virginia, there are SPOILED CHILDREN in large and very large families despite the old saying that they are not.

For example, singer Celine Dion, youngest of fourteen children stated that she loved being in a large family because she was coddled. Singer, actor, and Holocaust survivor Robert Clary concurred with this, stating that as the youngest of sixteen children he was a coddled child. Mr. Clary recollected that his mother affectionately called him a brat. If a person truly states that he/she loves being from a large family, chances are that they are the YOUNGEST in their families.

Youngest children report being the happiest in large to very large families. Of course, they have the least responsibilities, often having a more carefree childhood than their older/oldest siblings who were usually saddled with household and caretaking responsibilities at a very young age. They can get away with things that their older/oldest siblings would be severely chastised and/or punished for. Oftentimes oldest children in large and very large families are punished for what their younger siblings do.

Furthermore, in large and very large families, it is the youngest child who is the parents' favorite. She/he often receives preferential treatment from them. They do not have to perform chores that other children in the family are required to do. Youngest children in large and very large families are coddled and pampered longer than the older children in the family.Such youngest children are coddled into their late teenage and adult years. Many oldest children in large and very large families oftentimes develop an animus towards their youngest siblings for the privileges they receive. Oldest children in large and very large families believe that their youngest siblings have it too good and extremely easy.

Middle children in large and very large families are overlooked, totally ignored, and lost in the crowd. Middle children in large and very large families generally do not have clearly defined identity unlike middle children in smaller families who have more of a defined identity. Imagine the status of middle children in large to very large families! They are totally anonymous to their parents and their siblings.

The status of middle children in large and very large families are nebulous to say the least. Middle children in large and very large families are the MOST likely to be ignored by their family members. Many middle children in large and very large families just develop their own independent personalities and go their own way.

Still others feel like they are nonentities, either fading into the background or becoming shy and withdrawn. However, there are some middle children who become quite attention seeking, loud, and aggressive to get attention. Madonna, singer/songwriter/mogul. who is the third of eight siblings, asserted that as a child and teenager, she became loud and vocal in order to gain attention from her father and her siblings. As a teenager and adult, she curved a career and lifestyle niche which was dramatically different from her siblings. The late Charles Bronson, actor, also a middle child(eleventh child of fourteen siblings) , went his own independent way, curving a career and lifestyle niche different from his siblings. Tim Allen, actor and comedian, the middle child of nine children, developed an aggressive persona to cope with his status as a middle child in a large to very large family.

Children in large and very large families are often on an unequal parity based upon their respective familial status. Parents in large and very large families treat their children either preferentially, indifferently, or harshly depending upon their respective birth orders. They furthermore establish different expectations and standards based upon their children's birth orders.

There is no equal parity regarding children in large to very large families as opposed to children in small families who are treated equally. Sibling roles are often more rigid and fixed in large to very large families with either positive or more likely negative effects. For example, in large and very large families, oldest children have the burden of being responsible for their younger siblings psychologically and financially often into adulthood as it is expected.

To summarize, in the world of large and very large families, children are often treated differentially by their parents based upon their respective birth orders. Oldest children are treated the harshest by their parents. They have the onus of familial responsibilities from a very early age. They have the LEAST CAREFREE carefree childhood of the birth orders. Because of enormous childhood responsibilities, many oldest children in large and very large families hate and/or resent their parents and younger siblings, feeling that they have gotten the shaft.

If you hear a person glowingly states that he/she loves being part of a large and very large family, it is the youngest child. Youngest children in large and very large families are spoiled rotten. They are pampered and mollycoddled by their parents and siblings often into late adolescence and adulthood. Youngest children in large to very large families have the MOST CAREFREE childhood of all the birth orders. They also have the fondest memories of being in a large to very large family.

Middle children in large and very large families are often ignored and overlooked. In response to this, they react in the following ways. Some become very nebulous and anonymous, quietly and contently fading into the background. Others become shy and withdrawn, feeling that they are unworthy of love, respect, and attention. Still others became quite rebellious and loud, carving their own independent of their families. Many develop a loud and vocal personality in order to get familial attention. Large and very large families are hierarchical in nature. It is impossible for children in such families to have an equal paring with each other as children from small families do.


© 2011 Grace Marguerite Williams

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Comments are indeed welcome. However, any negative or disrespectful comment will be DELETED. 16 comments

Helpful Hanna 5 years ago

I think each family is different. Thanks for the info!


QudsiaP1 profile image

QudsiaP1 5 years ago

Very well written and informative.


mrali2010 profile image

mrali2010 5 years ago

nice and well written.


gonbzerk profile image

gonbzerk 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

I like the celebrity examples you give. Those "middle children" certainly didn't fade into the background!


Bridget Hainline 4 years ago

I agree with the youngest child being the spoiled one in a large family. When Michelle Duggar was a child, she was the baby of her clan of seven siblings and they spoiled her from head to toe.


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 4 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

To Bridget: You are so correct. In large to very large families, there is indeed AN INEQUALITY regarding the expectations and the treatment of children. Oldest children in such families often have NO childhood and adolescence to speak of. They are usually parentified children. Youngest children in such families are spoiled and pampered beyond the pale. Youngest children in large to very large families NEVER assume any type of familial responsibilities.

I am glad you brought up Michelle Duggar. I also read that she was the YOUNGEST of a large family. That probably explains her parenting skills. You see Ms. Duggar continuously have children but SHE does not raise them but delegates that responsibility to the OLDEST daughters.

As I have said, the ONLY children who LOVED being in large to very large families are the YOUNGEST children. Well, why not? They DO NOT have the do the work, it is the OLDEST child in large families who do ALL THE WORK. Thank you very much Bridget. Always feel free to step by. Your responses are always welcome!


Susanna 4 years ago

I am the youngest of four. Had a horrible childhood. I always read how the youngest child has all the privileges. I was Cinderella. Had to wait on my siblngs hand and foot because they were the "important" ones and I was "just a child". Got abused by sisters boyfriend. Noone cared. My older sister said I was lying. I had to take care of her children... because she was now a mother and I was "just a teenager". Please aknowledge the ills of the youngest child in large families. I have know a lot of youngest children in my life and all cry over the same issuues: no privacy, bullying, eternal servitude and being considered "less than". And on top of it all you always come last. YOu have to wait for all the others to get whatever it is first. Guess what... you wauit and wait... and it is never your turn, because when the time comes for it to be your turn, your older siblings have managed to change the focus to whatever they need at the time. Children in large families suffer a horrible childood no matter in which position they are born. And about the duggars.. that insane mother was the youngest child... ever wondered why she is so needy as to produce 20 babies? This is classic affection deprivation during childhood issue. The youngest child is the forgotten child.


Sarah 4 years ago

Dont you Think your mum is depressed and uses her childhood As an excuse for not bothering about her own family, or maybe she found out the chores are done by others if she is hiding. Or maybe ADD.

Dó you have children , everyone is different and should Be treated differently.

Large familys or only kids are One and same, parents dont spend All their time on the kids , where the chances are in large familys - the mum is at home , hence more time close by.

You Sound As if you mum just had Good excuses for not bothering about her kids,, maybe life is what you make it into , by choice , a hynny that Can spoil her like her childhood where everyone Elsé did her Work while she hid herself.

Sorry but you Sound a bit endoctrinated


Jez.... 3 years ago

I am the first born of six. Also,female,and raised in a fundamentalist, baptist ,legalistic, family. All the implications you addressed are exactly how my youth ...or rather, years of my life...often called childhood,teens,young adult,among most other persons,yet for myself were , years I was never to truly be able to even claim . Ironically, of three girls, and boys, myself and sister of eighteen months younger are the best educated of all the kids. Ironically, we do not have any true kind of real relationship, as the intense dysfunction of issues as children, have left painful adult scars. I am not at all even remotely close with any of my siblings. Both the family dynamics of your highly honest assertions can create difficulties among siblings, even decades following childhood. The religious doctrine my parents ascribed to, often with highly abusive tactics further increased friction, especially with myself. Currently at middle age, with one daughter, and a very loving, supportive spouse, plus a well determined success with a highly comfortable lifestyle, a lot of personal resources, and proper support...for all aspects each of us...to minimize as much stress as possible, I am at minimum able to live life with some youthful abandonment....and my daughter may be able to smile for her life.


Elide 3 years ago

How people treat their children has nothing to do with how many then have but what type of parents they are. I have 8 children that I care for. My oldest has never been without for her siblings. All my children are treated fairly. I believe in treating my children based on their personality not their birth order.


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 3 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

That's what YOU think? Really? Oldest children in large families are treated the worst and the most differentially. YOU may said the opposite but YOUR DAUGHTER is the ONE who KNOWS. Children in large families are NEVER treated equally. The oldest is often seen as disposable and cast aside or he/she is the usable servant. The only person who receives preferential treatment in large families is the YOUNGEST child. Please get real here!


mad mom 2 years ago

I grew up the oldest of 6 children. As Igotolder I was always the one my mom hollered for to get the baby, seewhat Joe was doing, wash the babysface, change his diaper, etc, etc, etc .So when I Married I only wanted one child so he could do the stuff my siblings and I couldn't do because of money!


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 2 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

Mad Mom, AMEN and PREACH ON MY SISTER. Oldest children in large families are in conditions akin to forced laborers in Nazi Germany and enslaved people in the Antebellum South. There is NO REPRIEVE at all. Reminds one of the Temptation's song, Slave. To paraphrase, hear THAT sound, that hammer pounding, pounding, from sunup to sunset, not a name but only a number. That is why I am against large families- children have NO childhood at all. They live at a subsistent level bereft of things that normal children have. Any parent who has a large family is considered to be abusive and there is a SPECIAL PLACE reserved for them. Thank Mad Mom, for stopping by and telling THE TRUTH!


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 2 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

Mad Mom, I also have written some hubs specified to oldest children of large and very large families, please check them out!


Bob 17 months ago

Very bias article. Author fails to acknowledge the countless examples of small families that are disfunctional. There are so many factors that influence childhood, and these factors can impact any type of family. For example I have several friends that grew up as the only child and they complain about the same issues you state for large families. Ex. My parents don't spend any time with me, always sending me to camp or boarding school, using expensive gifts to substitute for love. Bottom line there is no prefect family large or small. How good a family is depends on many factors. Especially the type of character the members of the family have


Mo 14 months ago

I disagree with almost everything in this article because you left out GENDER......I was the youngest. I was left to fend for myself. I also had to cook and clean for older brothers and sisters....I also worked earlier than any of my older spouses.

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