In Defense of the BIG Family: Why is There so Much Criticism?

From overhearing people’s comments standing in the grocery store line, to remarks from Facebook friends, I have heard and read many comments these past few months about people’s opinions about large families. “Why do they want so many kids?” “How can they afford so many?” “Have they heard of birth control?” And my ultimate favorite, “They must be Catholic.” So why is there this stigma about BIG families? And, why do people feel compelled to comment and consider this a phenomenon?

150406 BIG Family @amb2nolaComing from a family of four children, I thought for many years I came from a big family since most of my classmates and friends only had one or two siblings. Yes, my extended family in the states was small in comparison to others, but as I began to meet families outside of my neighboring community, I found that our family was actually small in compared to most, especially in southeast Louisiana. As a child, I recall a few family gatherings with my aunt’s family. She being one of six children, I remember those fun gatherings. Everyone was welcoming, so many people to talk and interact with and much warmth, smiles and just an overall good time spending time with one another. Jump forward a few decades after graduating from college and I began to meet more friends with very large families – some had six to ten or more aunts and uncles, each with several kids of their own and “adoptive family members.” Their version of weekend family gatherings were more like small wedding celebrations.

My fondest BIG family moment occurred after only a few dates with my now husband. He wanted to bring me home to meet his family for Thanksgiving. He failed to mention, until we pulled up to one of his many aunt’s home, that his family meant nearly 60 of them, and not everyone was there! I recalled us parking down the street and when he opened the door, family members of all ages coming over to introduce themselves and the room filled with laughter, little ones giggling, newborns crying and an abundance of food in each nuclear family’s revered recipe in their unique container. And nothing has changed every holiday since then, except the addition of more babies.

The Fascination

Apparently, there is a fascination with large families in America; if not, The Duggars would not be in their 15th season of 19 Kids and Counting. But, I think Jim Bob and Michelle are on to something. Sure they have a lot of mouths to feed, but I recall watching one episode where Jim Bob talked about the fact they were not in debt. Obviously, they are somewhat of a renaissance family – they built their own home, lease their land for cellular towers, written books, he has served as a former state legislator, and the list goes on. And – gasp – they actually appear to like and enjoy being around one another in front and behind the camera. For me, personally, the most fascinating part of their family is how they managed to come up with so many names that all start with the “J.” And just in case you were wondering, no, they are not Catholic. I think we can all learn from this frugal, respectful, smart and faith driven family that BIG families are not to be mocked. I will support them, by watching their show anytime, say before Honey Boo Boo.

So Why the Negativity?

I am finding more and more with articles and posts, that circulate through the internet, focusing on promoting the opposite values that The Duggars seem to represent and tearing down the image of a large family. Is it because we are scared of the responsibilities and lifestyle associated with a BIG family? Is it because we cannot comprehend how mothers of large families can go through the day without “me” time? Or, a stay at home mother who cooks, clean and can discipline so many kids and still seem happy? That a father can manage to financially support so many children? Does their sense of faith and optimism make others nervous and question their own?

What I Have Learned

From my personal experience, I have learned many valuable lessons being around large families.

– By the time you say hello to everyone, it is time to start say goodbye and this interchange can take hours.

– The kids always have someone to play with.

– In a city especially like New Orleans, you are probably somehow or another related by marriage and are second, third or fourth cousins and/or once or twice removed.

– Family members seem to be more accepting of others and meeting new people.

Everyone knows who you are and what you are up to.

– Believe it or not, I hear about as many “unplanned” children from those using artificial birth control than those who are using other methods.

– You don’t even have to ask to bring a guest, everyone is automatically invited and glad to meet someone new.

– There is always someone there to pick you up during the rough times and share your laughter through the good times.

I see BIG families as a gift, not a burden. Sure, their lifestyle is completely different than smaller families, and there are larger sacrifices in terms of sharing time, resources and finances. However, the love and experiences are beyond imaginable!

What do you consider a BIG family?


  1. I just have one sister but still have a huge family. Dad was one of 10, I am the middle of 27 grandkids, my son is the 30th of 35 great grand children and we now have 4 great-great grandchildren. My cousins we’re my first and best friends. My sons favorite weekend activity is teaching younger cousins to do things. I wouldn’t change this for anything in the world, and if I could have I would have had a large family as well.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Monica! I am glad to hear you enjoy being a part of a large family. And, it sounds like your family reunions are as big as ours.

  3. A little late, but 4 kids isnt a big family.
    The DUggars may have been financially ok in the early years, but let’s face it. A family that size cost $$$$ to feed. The reason for the negativity is no matter how loving the parents try to be there’s no way to squeeze even 10 minutes of one one time with each kid I recall Michelle saying the kids signed a sheet to schedule face time. I think one of Anna’s siblings mentioned this and they had half as many kids! Many of these ‘no birth control families live in poverty.
    The DUggar didn’t always live in that huge house. TLC stepped in and helped pay for the completion of the house.I read they only paid for the kitchen. . It’s so unfair to the child who is forced to sacrifice such and such when they dont make the choice to have so many kids. As far as always someone to play with what about kids who are introverted?There was a time larger families made sense but now it is down right selfish. How does passing on your gene pool a dozen times make you special?
    Speaking of the DUggars, they aren’t real good examples.

    I used to be a fan until I found out the darker side of their Fundamentalists/Quiverfull beliefs. They make women feel so guilty about doing anything for themselves. The dads are just there, and heck they may as well not be there. Go read up on Andrea Yates Maybe if she had ‘me time’ those kids would still be alive today.

    It’s not a matter of promoting ‘opposite values’ or ‘being scared’ of anything , but using good common sense. # of kids shouldnt a competition. And dads should be just are involved as mothers. some of us never have kids any because of fertility issues or circumstances. It’s odd bigger families complain of criticism when they are the biggest critics .It’s the same when you 0 kids, or one kid, or still single at 30., they tell you to get busy. And those like the Duggars want to enforce their lifestyle on everyone. Women are still getting denied access to birth control and health services because of this thinking.

    Fine if you want more than the average 2.5 kids, whatever.5 means,, but dont tell anyonen else they are selfish for limiting fmaily size of choosing to have 0.And dont give criticism if you cant take it. I think people, especially parents of multiple kids, who complain about when others choose differently have self-reservations about their own life.

    since this post, Josh the oldest kid, was found to have molested 4 sisters and a girl only IDed as babysitter.Then he got caught on the Ashley Madison ‘adult’ website and admitted to cheating on wife Anna. Yea good old family values.

  4. A Roddy: that’s the point. No one is telling anyone TO have kids, but seemingly everyone, yourself included, is telling parents NOT to have more kids. Yes I agree that fathers should be just as involved as mothers, but it’s not up to you to define the standards of fairness. It’s not for you to decide what’s fair and what’s not. As how many teens, for example, want one-on-one with their parents? Hint = none. Or at least not too often. Honestly I remember I didn’t really want to be alone with any of my parents, because my siblings pretty much satisfied by need to socialize. I agree that it’s in the parents’ best interest to limit the number children they have to the number they are able to handle, but who are we to tell them what to do? This subject should be off limits entirely. If a family is a healthy family with healthy relationships where everyone is fed and has their basic needs met who are we to dictate how large that family should be? Besides, for the most part, the comments and perceptions of parents with no or few children are unwarranted and ignorant.

  5. Check up on the Duggar’s a bit more… oldest son is child molester and has been arrested for tons of child pornography. Hes admitted to molesting three of his sisters as well as another underage girl and also cheating on his wife multiple times (see Ashley Madison Scandal)… but he apologized, which makes it all ok (I hope you understand sarcasm). He hasn’t admitted to the child porn (which included sex act with toddlers) but its apparently a fairly open and shut case. Pretty terrible example.


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