The More the Merrier Or Full House?

What constitutes too many kids? I used to get stares with just 2 and maybe because I was carrying the third in me and the 2nd wasn’t old enough to walk, let alone get “momma” out. So to me, 4 children isn’t all that many. To the moms with 5 or 6 children, that probably isn’t all that many either.

So what it is about a big family that makes it such a hot topic? In a part of me, it really gets my blood boiling when I get the stares. I’ll admit we get them when we’re having a bad day and no one, I mean, NO ONE has ears to listen with. It’s those days I like to give myself “the stare” as well. At the same time, I too can recall a thought running through my head when I see moms with overflowing carts of kids. But I tend to remind myself that I don’t know them. Passing judgement on them wouldn’t be right. Who cares if she’s stacking kids on top of each other in the cart? That doesn’t mean they are all hers. And still I see other people cast “the stare” without any disregard to that mom or her feelings.

Don’t be shy. You know which one I am talking about. The stare that says, “Look at her. She clearly cannot control those children. Maybe she should have thought twice before having all of them.”

I like my big family. It’s what I have always wanted. But myself and other moms are catching flack for our big family. The looks, glances, stares and whispers are enough to drive us nuts. Perhaps we are already nuts for having a large brood but isn’t that our business and no one else’s?

I did have a lady sympathize with me tonight while I was deciphering the school supply lists in Wal-mart. As I was telling Shorty that I can only talk and listen to one of them at a time, an older lady with a little girl, said to me, “Don’t I know it? I used to do this with six in school all at once.” She was a nicer lady who added that there were no more kids at home. Clearly she was grandma now and shopping with her granddaughter.

Six?? Oh my yes. To me, 4 is fairly large but there are other families out there who are larger. So why does it seem to bother people so much so that they can’t resist saying things like,

“Aren’t you done yet?”

“Have you figured out what caused that?”

And my personal favorite, “You aren’t having any more are you?”

To which I like to count them and then reply, “Um yup. Still need 5 more to make a baseball team.” And walk away. (Really. How many do I need by the way?)

But I don’t hear about famous people like Angelina Jolie, Justin Chambers, and even proud papa, Chris O’Donnell who is expecting his fifth child, getting looks, stares or questioning inquiries about whether or not another round of reproduction practice will pay off.

Why is that? Is it because they are assumed to be able to better care for them? Being famous doesn’t make a better parent. What about the family that just welcomed baby number 17?

We live in a world that is getting smaller by the minute (compare your new cellphone to the old one, go ahead, I’ll wait. That thing that fits in your pocket and plays music? We used to call it a Walkman).
And families are not excluded to this. If you have over 2.5 of the recommended amount of children, you are disregarded as Irresponsible (because I like the process of making the baby?), Crazy, or even Rich (ever hear anyone say “You must be rich to afford all those children”?)

No matter what you are called or thought of as, you are definitely not favored by mainstream America. And maybe because as everything gets smaller, the cost of raising them gets bigger.

But I don’t necessarily think that’s true either (save that taboo topic for another day).

I know why this is such a hot button for me, but I am interested in knowing from the stare-givers and whisperers and the moms to one or a million and one… Have you ever watched a large family in public or known one? What are your thoughts on big families? Do you think its sorely outdated to breed a large brood? Why or why not?

Can’t I once get a, “You must have a lot of love to give.”

To which I would reply, “Yes. Yes I do.”

About Nichole Smith

Nichole Smith has written 765 post in this blog.

Founder of Chaos in the Country and (original) The Guilty Parent blog, Nichole is a professional writer, blogger, social media strategist, and collector of yarn, books, and pretty paper.


  1. Dirty Dancing Through LIFE says:

    I’m a parent of two, not my idea. My husband is gone… a lot and he only wanted two so he went and got “fixed” just after our second was born. I would have loved to have at least one more but he gave me two wonderful boys that I cannot complain about (much) so I let him have his way. We do have some good friends who just announced that baby #5 is on its way. She home schools the older 3 and the youngest is 2. The older ones help out so much because they want to. They are great to thier little sister and brother. They have a small house but they make it work. They don’t eat out much but they love to do big family meals where each of them pix something different. They may have lasagna and taco salad on the same night but thats ok. I am proud of you parents who have so much devotion and love for your family. I do know a family though who have 3 kids who they do not control. The oldest has develpmental problems and she took him off meds because they cost $5 a month. She feeds them fast food and mac and cheese. They have new cell phones and expensive clothes though. Her kids have the newest video players and games as soon as they come out. She doesn’t have a job and her husband is in school. They want to get pregnant right away again and have two more before she gets “too old”. Those stares that you get are reserved for this family (they are related to me so I can gripe about them). You even on a day when the kids forget their ears deserve a standing OVATION.

  2. madamspud169 says:

    I’ve done the staring thing but it’s not due to the amount of children he/she has in their charge it’s more to do with the total lack of discipline / control that adult has over them.
    There’s so many parents that just don’t have any control & just don’t care about the actions of their offspring. I wouldn’t dream of permitting my son to act like some of these do.

  3. Laura says:

    Actually, it seems to me that big families are back in vogue. At least I’m seeing more and more of them. Besides, four is sort of medium-sized.

  4. Chaos Mommy says:

    I have three and I would happily have at least one more. I never wanted a big family when I was younger, but now I’m having so much fun with all the kids in their various stages that I feel I don’t want the party to end!
    When I see a mom with a lot of kids, usually 6 or more, I sometimes think “Holy Cow!!” But if the family is anything like mine, the older ones help out with the younger and it all balances out. I think whatever is good for the family as a whole is a good amount. Some families just don’t do well with several kids (my sister and sil for instance) and some do!

  5. Flawed & Disorderly says:

    THANK YOU for writing this!!!! I totally hear ya! People look at us like we’re insane and want to yell at us when we say we want more. Oh well. It’s only too many kids if you can’t handle it. Some people want it and can make it work. When people say, “You’ve got your hands full,” I think “Better full than empty!” :)

    Thanks so much for letting me know about your experience with CHDs. It’s always good to hear from people who’ve been through it and are fine! 😀

  6. rainqueen21 says:

    I guess its just our society today, because when I look back to my parents and their parents they all had 5-6 brothers a piece. I actually have twin girls and i want another child but of course when we can afford another one because lets keep it real diapers and formula does not come cheap and at my rate i’ll probably have another set of twins, I wont lie even when I was young actually before I even got pregnant with these two I only wanted one or two the most but now with these two little ones running around I realized i have alot of love to give

  7. The Quoibler says:

    Hey there! I found my way here through Lori’s blog (Words on the Page).

    First, I applaud you for having as many children as you can love. I personally have stopped at one for a number of reasons too boring (and perhaps sensitive) to go into in this comments section. But I say, “Go for it!” to anyone who wants more!

    Secondly, in regards to your wondering about why you’re not getting jobs (you mentioned that at Lori’s blog). Could it be that you don’t have enough print clips? Is there a regional publication that could use your writing? I sometimes think that print mags can make a writer sound more “legit”.

    Just a thought. I believe your writing is excellent!

    Keep plugging away and your career will start to take off!


  8. Frustrated with Society says:

    I am so glad I read this! I have been dealing with the stares and whispers for 6 years now, not only for have three boys, but because I started very early. Anywhere I go, I hear the snide comments, or mean looks, and I just kiss my children on the head, and move on. I just want to yell “WHO THE HELL ARE YOU? DO YOU KNOW ME?” I love it even better now that my DH is gone in the Navy, so I even get questions like “are they from the same father?” As a matter of fact yes, but why does that matter to your life? Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  9. So here’s what I get asked about my 4 boys:

    “Are they ALL yours?”
    “Oh, you must’ve been trying for a girl, are you going to stop now?”
    “Gosh, did you have them one after the other?”
    “How can you go away for that business trip? Who will watch all of those kids?”
    “So do you work or do you just stay home with all of them?” (this is always said with the assumption and condescending tone that I don’t work.
    “Did your husband want so many kids?”

    It goes on and on. My kids are nicely spaced at 9, 6, 4 and 1. One has Aspergers and one has PDD. My hands are full, so the last thing I need is judgemental people. Oy!!

    So glad I found this post. :) You made me feel better.

  10. Hey Shannon – Moms like you and me are exactly why I created this post. I hate those comments. The next worst ones are the ones directed at my daughter implying how awful it is for her to be in a house full of boys!

  11. Just found your blog via twitter… thanks for the follow! We have 6 kids and believe it or not, that is now a lot here in Puebla, Mexico! Shopping is fun… baby in car seat and two 2 year old twins take up one grocery cart… Second grocery cart is for the food items… other three kids are taught to follow in a single file line so we don’t block the whole aisle! We enjoy our kids and enjoy spending time with them. It is so fun to go out to eat to a nice restaurant and have strangers walk up to us and compliment us on our kids. We work with them at home so they will know how to behave in public and always reward good behaviour with positive re-inforcement! Our kids are not perfect but they are fun! Our house is never boring and our house is the destination for their friends. There is always something going on. This weekend we are going to build them a play house in the backyard… it is going to be a family project we will all participate in! The key is to spend time with your kids and to discipline consistently!

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