By Rachel Ballin, Contributor
It’s funny to think that my family of five, two parents and three kids in 2014 seems to be considered to a ‘large’ family. I can remember when I was a child, in a family of five and we were the norm or the average size. But at some point as society has evolved over the years, this new generation of parents seems content with an only child or just two children, preferably one boy and one girl. I don’t think that this new generalization is inherently a bad standard, I just hate getting those funny looks from people when they see me out with my three young children.
To start this off with a little background, I haven’t changed much looks wise in the past ten years, I know that. Yes, it is a gift to have not aged, but at times when people still think I’m just out of high school with three children the oldest now six, it can be a little misleading and discouraging to say the least. Especially, because I am far older than 18! But, in the end, I guess I’ll consider having my id checked in the liquor store still to be a compliment.
As I’ve said before having each of our children has been a conscious decision between my husband and I. Yes, the girls may be a little bit closer than expected, but I won’t change it for the world. However, when other people found out I was pregnant again, with our youngest, as I showed rather quickly, the comments I would receive were at times unbelievable! I actually had someone ask me “if I knew how I got pregnant and where babies come from, because it could have been avoided!” – Really? I’m not delusional or ignorant, I’m positive that I know how it happened! More recently, when out as a family, we ran into someone we hadn’t seen in a while. They asked about our kids, joking about how many we had now and if we were up to six or eight yet? I responded with a silly joke about trying to beat out the Duggars, you know the family from Arkansas with 19 children. They only snarled, when I made a joke back instead of becoming offended. It was so worth it! I feel like the size of my family shouldn’t matter to anyone, but my husband and I. If we felt like we could afford three more children, we would most likely have them!
I understand that society and the media like to dictate the way we see the world around us. However, when you come from an average size family, plus your parents’ families were large and everyone seemed to manage then; what does this say about our society today? My father is from a family with seven children and my mother in-law is from a family with nine children. Although, we are jumping back generations and years, I’m sure they felt the growing pains of supporting a family of this size and faced hardship over the years too. But bottom line, they made it and primarily on one income! They succeeded and raised healthy, happy, productive, contributing members to our society. I’m not saying it was easy as pie, I’m sure they each had struggles in their own right. But it also couldn’t have been so unbearably difficult, because these larger family sizes were more common. People normally attribute the economy for the decrease in the average family size, which I certainly see. Money will most likely be the number one reason why my family stays the size it is. But if large families could make it through the Great Depression, inflation, job loss and every other financial rocky road over the past 120 years, why is it so crazy to be a family of five today?
So I will leave you with this thought – What do you consider to be a ‘large’ family? Are you guilty of giving those funny, judging looks when you see someone with more than two young children? If we could all take a step back and look beyond each other’s differences, maybe we would find we have a lot more in common, family size large or small. I’m sure we all do things a little bit differently, in terms of managing our families. But I bet if we look beyond the wide view to the nitty-gritty, we would see we all put our pants on the same way, one leg at a time. We most likely have some of the same goals for our children too. I’m sure we all want them to be happy and be loved. I bet we want them to be contributing members to our society one day and to be embraced by those around them. Didn’t they used to say “it takes a village to raise a child?” Maybe we could make our community, into that village, into one ‘large’ family.
I’ve really been loving writing these Friday – Baby Talk columns. I’m even happier that the readers have been enjoying them and interacting with me throughout the week on my Facebook page – ‘Baby Talk - with Rachel’. Which makes me so excited to say that starting next week you will be able to read my columns on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday right here in The Evening Sun on page five! That being said, if you have ideas, questions or topics you want to read about please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me via my Facebook page. Thanks!