Thoughts on Mothering A Large Family

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"Thoughts on mothering a large family" by Melanie Jean Juneau (CatholicMom.com)

By Evil Erin (http://www.flickr.com/photos/evilerin/3565026821/) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I can honestly say my husband and I are joyful because we answered a particular call to parent a large family of nine children. Many small experiences kept reinforcing the truth; God called each of our children into being with our cooperation. I stumbled blindly at times and then a burst of clarity would shine a light on my purpose as I lived out my calling as a mother of a large family.

Not everyone is called to have a lot of kids but I would like to share a few benefits of a large family.

Reflections on a Large Family

Parents with two children cannot fathom how a mother of a large family manages to cope with all the work necessary to keep up a home as well as have enough time to love each child.

However, more children are easier than less. In a large family, a seven-year-old will repeatedly read the same book to a toddler who loves one particular book. A ten-year-old feels important when he can help his six-year-old brother who struggles with reading. A young teenager delights in rocking a tiny, dependent infant to sleep.

For me, family started with three because then, community started. A community works and plays together and for little children work is as fun as play. I included everyone in ordinary household chores and made chores fun. A trained Montessorian once declared that I ran my home like a Montessori school. What a wonderful confirmation that was for me.

My kids were not deprived because I usually could not sit and play with them in the traditional sense. Instead, they received an expensive, educational experience simply because I integrated them into the running of our home.

It was never too soon to give one of my toddlers a job such as picking up the toys his younger sibling drops from the high chair. The secret was to delegate, each according to his or her talents, but never to order them around like they were in the Army. They chopped wood, helped fix the car, weeded the garden, and took care of the animals. If teenagers are still treated like kids or overindulged, they don’t have a purpose and become really angry. When parents appreciate their kids’ contributions, their confidence blossoms and matures.

Employers love my kids because they know how to work and do not take anything for granted. Many have said, “I will give anybody with the last name Juneau a job.”

Large families strengthen the basic foundations of our society. They live lives of greater interconnectedness. If you don’t have a lot of money, you’re not an island unto yourself. You learn how to share and barter both skills and things with others. My children who go to college or university adapt well to communal life in a dorm or a shared house. Just imagine, they already know how to share a bathroom with a lot of other people. They know how to get along with opposite personalities, how to give and take. For starters, they know how to cook and clean up after themselves.

Healthy, large families benefit society.


Copyright 2017 Melanie Jean Juneau

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About Author

Melanie Jean Juneau is a mother of nine children who blogs at joy of nine9. Her writing is humorous and heart-warming; thoughtful and thought-provoking. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life. Melanie is the administrator of ACWB, the Editor in Chief at CatholicLane, CatholicStand, Catholic365 , CAPC & author of Echoes of the Divine.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for this fine essay Mrs. Juneau. I will add one item as a man who grew up one of five children. You mentioned the objection of parents not “having enough time to love each child.” Nothing could be farther from the truth in big families.

    In fact, in the modern one to two child families growing out of the contraceptive/abortive culture, the focus was on “self esteem” and paying more individual attention to fewer children. Enter the “millenials.” A generation who is spoiled, entitled, weak, and ultimately angry as they grow into young adults and have to face the reality that they are, in fact, NOT the center of the universe.

    Growing up with many brothers and sisters precludes you from ever being burdened with the destructive notion that you are the centerpiece of God’s creation. And that’s a good thing.

    May God continue to bless you and your family.

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