Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Having Lots of Kids

Shtreimel has a relevant post here.

I know people, mostly country folk and Yeshivish types, who have lots of kids. By lots, I mean more than 4, sometimes multiples of 4. This brings up two issues for me. 1 – How can they afford it? I’ll discuss this in a later blog. 2 – How do they manage to effectively parent this brood.

I understand that every kid needs something different. I also understand if you have 10 kids, you probably have them over a 15 or 20 year time period. This is nice because you have some older ones that need less time (and probably more money) and little kids need just the opposite. Especially when you are talking about 99% hand-me-downs. Okay, but imagine you have even 3 or 4 kids between say 2 and 8. Each one is going to want something different. Imagine I get home from work at 6 and the kids go to bed at 8:30. Forgetting all of my needs and assuming my wife stays home with the kids full-time and takes care of all chore type things (like food prep, cleaning, taking care of the kids, etc.) – which is by no means an easy task – how could I do it? I mean, one of them wants to read a story, the other needs help with homework, a third wants to learn how to ride a bike. ALL AT THE SAME TIME. And I just couldn’t get to all of them. But each is a reasonable request.

Plus, we need time to talk to the kids, discipline them, impart morals and values, etc. None of this is a small thing and should all be taken seriously.

So given a finite amount of time (G-d, how about a 2-hour extension on each day), how can one really parent 8 kids, or 10 kids. Imagine you have 6 kids in elementary school. How can you really be involved in their lives, in their school work, etc.? I mean, the amount of time you dedicate to each kid is necessarily pretty small. What if you have 15 kids in a class and each class needs a room parent and an assistant room parent. If you have 6 kids, you ought to do at least one of these functions every year, sometimes more. But you won’t. You don’t have the time. You can’t possibly. So what happens? One of the other parents does the work for you. Now you have short changed your kids because you don’t have time to be their parent (because you are so many other people’s parent) and you have shirked responsibility to other parents.

How is this fair? Why does this not occur to you? Where does it say you have to have 8 kids or 10 kids? I’m going to have to do some of the work for you (not least of which is paying for them) and its not fair to me. Why would you do this? It doesn’t make any sense at all. I mean love is wonderful, but I’ve yet to hear a convincing reason (halachically or not) to forgo a vasectomy after having 6 or 8 or more kids. PLEASE.



At 4:17 PM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

I'm all in favor of the "quality over quantity" bit. That being said, I have 6 psychotoddlers of my own.

The answer's very hard. The first few get individual attention. After that, you start to look at them as more of a group. 3 kids in the tub at once. 4 kids on the couch as you read a story (and they tug at the book). 4 kids riding laps around the block, while you keep up with the one on the trike.
Huge grocery bills.
Neverending laundry.
Multiple mortgages for tuition.

And if you're lucky, one of them will be nice enough to pick out a good nursing home for you.

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Texas Mensch said...

Thanks. I really am torn about a few things - how to spend time with
my wife if we have so many (we have 1 now - very young still). Who
baby sits 6 kids? Also, not having grown up as part of a large
family, I worry a lot about giving them specific attention and making
each one feel special rather than being "a part of the team/family."

And, the bills just for a nice day school. Oh my. I cannot even
imagine. That doesn't even get into grocery or clothing or anything
fun even.

That said, I admire you. And everyone I know who has a family as a
hobby, is very happy and they have happy wonderful kids. So maybe
there is something I'm missing.

At 10:00 AM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

The time you spend with your wife will be spent with the kids...until
> they get old enough to keep themselves occupied. Then you'll have to
> figure out how to get away from them. Believe me, it happens a lot
> faster than you think. Particularly if there are a few in a row close
> to the same age. I have 3 boys all within 4 grades, and they do
> everything together, computer games, legos, army men. We just let them do their thing.
> But they will miss out on the one on one with you. Nothing you can do
> about it. Not enough hours in the day. I posted something somewhere about this.
> I have a friend who has just one son and two daughters, and he and his
> son are inseparable. I don't have that kind of relationship with any
> of my kids. But I do spend a lot of time with them. My wife thinks
> I'm one of them. We play video games together, and now they can beat me.
> Money is a problem, even on a doctor's salary. But most schools give
> a group discount. As for hobbies, you can probably tell from
> psychotoddler that they haven't suffered much. I run a full time
> band, play videogames and do nonsense on the net. If something is important, you make the time.
> If my life was all work and chores, I'd be done for.

At 9:27 PM, Blogger WBS said...

This is a good topic and too bad I'm late on commenting.

I intend to have kids but five or six, no. No one wants to tell me how the birth control issue is handled in marriage and that just leaves me nervous. Also, no one wants to tell me about TH because they think it will dissuade and scare me. Well, I keep telling "them" that not knowing is scaring the hell out of me.

Anyway, good topic.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger samiira said...

i understand why poeple are so scared about having kids.

At 3:57 PM, Anonymous all at once said...

i have 3 girls ages: 3 1/2 and 2 two year olds. Now I'm 4 weeks pregnant (surprise baby). Would I be cheating my kids by having another baby so soon? They hardly get enough of my time as it is with the amount of time it takes to care for 3 and household things. My hearts says to keep the baby but my mind says it's crazy to think I can handle it. We never had any help with our 3...even when the twins came along when my 1st was 1 1/2. It was "hell on earth" for the first year. Any suggestions?

At 8:03 PM, Anonymous Shylah said...

I totally believe in Quality over Quantity! I am a young mother of 5 and just found out I am pregnant. We weren't preventing it, but not planning it. I lost my mom about 5years ago, with no other family to turn to, I realized I was missing something...Family. I didn't want my children to feel alone like I do. The holidays aren't so happy without family. So, here I am. I have a 1, 3, 4, 7, and 9 yr old. It's tough, all around, I won't lie. The laundry, cleaning, shopping, chores, activities and everything else. But it's life. And nothing else is more rewarding than your little one making you laugh. Everyone plans their children around their financial status, believe me, you will find a way. If you are deciding on not having a child because of money, rethink that. You can do things to bargain shop, second hand, shop internet, shop off season to get the deals. Whatever you have to do, do it, but live your life to the fullest. Do what you want. You can do anything if you put your mind to it!


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