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The Heretofore of the Large Family System, Part 2/3

Updated on November 24, 2013

The Whys, Hows, And Whats Of The Large Family System

Part 2 of 3 of this hub is in response to the request WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF HAVING A LARGE FAMILY by esteemed hubber cardisa.


The percentage of large families took a significant decrease in the late 1960s after the event of the baby boom from the period of the late 1940s to middle 1960s. In the 1960s, there was the contraceptive pill, the most potent form of birth control. The pill opened new sexual avenues for women. They were free to have sex without the constant worry of pregnancy. The pill made it possible for women to control the number of children they would have. This translates into less pregnancies.

The pill in conjunction with the women's movement of the 1970s gave women new and broader avenues of expression which was not afforded to their mothers and grandmothers. In the early 1970s, there was concern with world overpopulation. It was believed that there were more people that could be properly sustained.

Professor Paul Ehlrich author of THE POPULATION BOMB argued that if the population kept increasing at the rate it has in the past, there would be mass starvation in addition to major societal upheavals. Professor Ehlrich adamantly stated that overpopulation places undue strain on natural resources. Other social scientists added that population growth must be curtailed or all the earth's natural resources will soon be depleted.

Groups such as Zero Population Growth in the 1970s stated that there must be a demographic balance. This meant that the population as it stood neither grows or declines. Zero Population Growth maintained that the long-term purpose of demographic balance would be a stabilization of the overpopulation problem leading to a long-term environment sustainability. The premise of Zero Population Growth was having a replacement fertility rate. This means that 2 children per family.

The veering of women from traditional gender roles and the increasing numbers of women becoming highly educated made them consider having large families. Women wanted to be free to advance in their careers and to pursue other goals/dreams. They realized that if they had large families, they would not be able to pursue and/or having careers and/or other interests. Women just do not want children to be the be and end all to their lives.

There was also a social agenda in the past that a woman was nothing if she did not have children. The more children she had, the more desirable and esteemed mother she is. If a woman choose not to have any children or a small family, she was looked upon as peculiar. She was considered to be narcisstic and self-centered, oftentimes accused of not liking children.

In addition to the past pronatalist social agenda, religious authorities, psychologists, and other social scientists were strong proponents of large families. They contended that large families encouraged cohesion and built character. These proponents further asserted that large families taught one how to interface with all types of people. They contended that real and genuine family life were only to be found in large families.


Whereas in the past, large families were viewed more positively and even glorified, since the late 1970s, large families were beginning to be viewed quite negatively. As people became more educated, they realize how beneficial small families were for the family unit. Men are not under extreme stress to support their small families. They are not necessarily the main socioeconomic support in their families. Their wives often contribute to the support of the family.

Men are under undue stress to provide for their large families. Oftentimes, the wives cannot work as they are home with the children. This means that men are the primary and sole socioeconomic support in the large family.

Women are freer to seek outside work, advance their careers, and/or further their education in small families. They contribute with their husbands in the socioeconomic support of their families. They have more free time to pursue their individual interests.

Women in large families do not have outside work. Their husbands are often the primary and sole socioeconomic source of support for the entire family. They also do not have the time to pursue any interests outside of that of the home because their children occupy most of their time.

Women in large families also experience a lot of emotional, mental, and/or psychological stress regarding providing the children with the care and attention they need. Often or not, they are emotionally, mentally, and/or psychologically exhausted because there are often more children than they are able to devote the prererquite time and attention to.

Socioeconomic resources are few in large families. There are more children than there are monies. Impoverishment is greater in large families than it is in small families. Children in large families often do not receive the necessary medical and/or dental care. They often do not eat nutritious foods because such foods are often expensive. They begin to feel that poverty is a legitimate lifestyle in their lives. Many of them have to depend upon donations from charities, the government, and/or from relatives in order for them to live at a merely subsistent level.

Children in large families learn to expect very little as they know that their parents can barely afford to support them even at the basic level. They develop a survivalist psychology. They believe that life is against them and it is an arduous battle just to barely survive. They are so used to living on so very little that they expect very little in their lives.

For children in large families, poverty is the only way of life. They also believe that poverty and/or being poor is acceptable and normal. To them, socioeconomic struggle is a matter of fact. They tend to develop a poverty consciousness and mentality.

Children in large families often must work if they want something beyond the rudiments. Oftentimes, they must work to get even some of things they need. Depending upon their individual birth order, some work to supplement their meager family income while others work to entirely support their families, much to the detriment of their education and/or schooling.

Children in large families do not receive the individualized parental attention they need. It is impossible in the large family for parents to gave all their children individualized attention they need. In the large family system, some children are paid attention to while others were overlooked to the point of benign neglect. Children in large families are often show less parental affection than their counterparts in small families.

As a result of little or no parental attention, children are left to their own devices. They often turn to each other for emotional and psychological comfort and solace. The average child in a large family often report not having any type of relationship with a parent/parents. However, he/she remembers that his/her primary relationship were with siblings. In large families, sibling interaction takes precedence over parent interaction.

As parents are not able to raise all of their children in the large family system, children often have to raise themselves or the oldest/older children raise the younger ones. It is de rigueur in large to very large families that the oldest/older children, particularly daughters, raise their younger siblings. This phenomena of oldest/older children raising the younger one is the parentified children syndrome.

Parentification is the process of role reversal whereby a child fulfills the parental role. It is a child's excessive responsibility for family members without any type of appreciation from the family members. This describes the oldest/older children in large to very large families very well. They are often at the call of their parents and/or siblings 24/7/365 with little time for themselves. Studies have shown that older children are often not equipped psychologically to care for their younger siblings; that is the parents' job, not the oldest/older sibling.

Gregory J. Jukovic, author of books such as LOST CHILDHOODS, THE PLIGHT OF THE PARENTIFIED CHILD and BURDENED CHILDREN with Nancy D. Chase, Ph.D., stated that parentified children are often overburdened either caring for parents and/or younger siblings at the price of sublimating their own needs and/or pursuits. Dr. Jukovic maintained that such children eventually resent the responsibilities placed upon them. Oldest/ older children in large to very large families do not have normal childhoods and adolescence because of their parentified roles.

Because there is very little parent-child interaction in large families, such children are not exposed to normal, nurturing, and involved parenting models. To them, children raising each other is viewed as a normal occurrence. When they become parents themselves, they are likely to be little involved and nurturing with their own children, expecting them to raise themselves and/or each other in addition to learning about things on their own.

In large families, individuality and a sense of self is not stressed. Children in large families are raised that their individual needs and desires do not matter and the needs of the group take precedence over the needs of the individual. In the large family environment, children are taught that it is selfish to consider themselves or their individual needs. They are raised to be part of the group construct and to have a groupthink mentality and psychology.

As a result of this inculcation, children in large families have a low or no sense of individuation. They are strict conformists who believe in following the consensus of the crowd. Individuality to them is an anathema. They are truly have a mass psychology and ethos.


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    • gmwilliams profile imageAUTHOR

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Thank you for your response, it is greatly appreciated/

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 

      5 years ago from New Jersey

      I am glad I came of age in the 1970's, where women had more choices. In defense of men, they don't often get the chance to "stay home and raise a child," even for a few months. I read a study years ago, I believe it was taken in Sweden. Men who had a new baby in the family could have 6 months paid leave, and only a small percentage took it. It's very hard to be home with a child all day. I've done both, I worked F/T for 20+ yrs, and when my son was 2 tried all sorts of P/T jobs. But even once they go to school, they have early dismissals, late openings, and you can really only depend on your spouse. Mine was cooperative, but he would come home from work and I would leave, so it's not so great on the marriage.


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