Got emailed the video of the biggest family I've ever seen. Started replying. The reply was getting too long, so I thought its place is here on my blog. The Duggars family. Today they have 20 kids.
With carefully selected photos and videos you can create any impression you want. Look in most peoples photo albums: everybody is smiling, or something funny is happening. There'll be no sad pictures. So it seems a person has had the happiest life ever. But we know its not true. Thi is just what we put on the fasad.
In big families parents delegate part of their parental duties to their older children, which is unfair, because they are not the parents, they didn't ask for this, they need to be kids themselves, but they have to be nice for mommy and daddy and comply. There is no way a parent can devote enough time to each of the kids when they have a whole herd of them.
How can a parent address emotional needs, help develop unique skills, notice and mitigate individual fears of more than 3 kids in 14 hours during the day?
Most of their activities have to be joint. You can't go with one kid to a zoo, another - on a skating ring, and read a book with 10 more kids
In that video they mostly film younger guys. Try talking to those who have more responsibilities, who are entering one of the toughest periods of their young life virtually left to themselves and to make things worse, burdened with parental responsibilities. Their childhood is stolen from them, they are the helpers of their insatiable parents.
She does not want to skate, but she says 'if my dad makes me'
Makes you? What is this his holy right to force his children to enjoy something they're not thrilled about?
You can do this to kids, you can make them believe their own wishes aren't important, that they have to learn to like what their parents decide they should like. Otherwise they'll be called selfish. Kids have no resources to resist. They accept the bullshit their parents are feeding them.
The problem in such families is that kids often aren't allowed to have their own desires. They have to be in that 'we' state all the time. And what 'we' want - parents get to decide.
In general, the whole report was covering a birthday, not a routine day of their life. Sure, people try to look nice in front of the camera, and of course, they try to be cheerful on somebody's birthday. Take an interview with each of those kids, ask them if they'd like mommy and daddy to spend more time with them, who helps them when they're having some troubles, when was the last time parents stayed with them for more than 5 miutes. Ask the older ones if they know what they want to do during the day, what are their favorite activities, except helping some of their siblings tie up their shoes. If they even have their own wishes any more, if they feel they have a right to their own life apart from the needs of their evergrowing family.
When do their teenage daughters get the chance to come to their mom to talk about some boy they liked (if they're even allowed that in a religious family), when she is always busy with something? They can't.
Can the little ones share their discoveries with parents, bug them with questions and say 'look what i drew, mommy'? They can't. They can turn to their older siblings instead. To those with no childhood.
When people love children the way they love shoes - buying as many as they can to put in the closet - this is nothing to be impressed with. If a woman wants to be a mother, to really love her children, to lead them into this world, holding their hand, helping them every step on their way, living their hopes and dreams and fears, why in the world would she want more than 3? It seems as though the quantity is precisely what allows parents to escape intimacy with their kids. They have an excuse: they don't have enough time. But thats their own choice to not have it, isn't it? Had they wanted to concentrate on bringing up 2-3 children, they could have done just that. Instead, they seem to be running away from the chance to build intimate relationships with just a few kids, they trade it for a couple of minutes of 'tell me your secrets and we'll pray for you' kind of communication with a dozen. Oh wait..its closer to 2 dozens now that they have had their 20th kid.
Kids are responsibilities. And they're not your other childrens responsibilities, they are solely yours. You've had them. You take care of them.
I've found an interesting article by Susan Newman on PsychologyToday. She writes:
"Tune in five or ten years going forward when the 18 (who knows, by then the number could be higher) children unite at a family reunion. How many children are the Duggar offspring going to have? How much resentment will they feel in the future for the lack of individual parental attention and loss ofnow being spent cooking, washing, and caring for their younger siblings?"
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