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Funny – how society views large families September 30, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic, silliness, Society.

Continuing with the theme of unlimited reproduction from my previous post, here’s a bit I cribbed from Reflections of a Paralytic (I don’t know the story there) from an old Our Sunday Visitor on how society views large families.  Many of my readers will find much familiar here:

Here’s how society’s perception of family size appears from our side of the maternity ward:

Child No. 1: In today’s culture, everyone is entitled to have a chid. No problem there. It’s a birthright. It can be a boy or a girl – it doens’t matter.

Child No. 2: You’re allowed a second child, as long as it’s the opposite gender from your first. “How wonderful! You have one boy and one girl,” we heard when our second child came. “Now you can quit.” Quit? At 25, we’re done having kids?

Child No. 3: The culture allows you, if you insist, to have a third child, but only if you failed to get a matched set with the first two. Call it a mulligan. If you have two girls, you go for a boy; two boys, and you’re after a girl. if you blow it and get another of the same, too bad. You get no more do-overs.

Child No. 4: Now you’re just getting ridiculous, especially if the kids are close in age. You’re officially christined “Fertile Myrtle” and “Virile Cyril.” Knock it off.

Child No.5: People begin to suspect you are nuts. Or just plain irrisponsible. Or both.

Child No. 6: The diagnosis is confirmed. Besides, a family of eight is simply impractical. Most minivans seat seven. Now you need a full-size van or nine-passenger SUV, or one of those classic early 1980s station wagons with the fake wood panelings and the fold-down third bench seat (I recommend the 1983 Pontiac Parisienne).

Child No. 7: By now, anywhere you venture as a family, you are inevitably asked, “Are they all yours?” Take no offence. Between day-care, field trips and the proliferation of blended families, it’s actually a legitimate question.

Child No. 8: Since No. 5 you’ve been hearing that timelessly coarse quip, “Don’t you know what causes that?” You have permenant teeth marks on your toungue from trying to suppress snappy sarcastic replies. (One wouldn’t think of making remarks about fertility to couples with few or no children. Why are large families fair game?)

Child No. 9: Neighbors, strangers and even a few well meaning friends have pretty much given up on you long before now. They compare your progeny to sprting events: With nine, you’ve got a baseball team.

Child No. 10: You’ve gone American League and added a designated hitter.

This is exactly what happened to us.  So, we had a child, a girl.  Then, another girl.  Everyone is ok with that.  When my wife got pregnant again, everyone was saying “you’re trying for a boy, huh?”  When it turned out to be twins, friends and strangers alike laughed at the trick God played on us….”see, you got greedy, and God gave you a surprise!”  When they also turned out to be both girls, well, we had to be done now, right?  With the next baby, people immediately assumed I had some massive complex about having a “male heir” (heir of what?  I don’t have much to inherit).  When the sixth was a boy, we of course HAD to be done at that point, right?  “You got your boy, you’re done now, right?”  Well, no, not necessarily.  We don’t know.  Maybe, it depends on what God wants.  “Oh, you’re one of those God-botherers……”

I actually love telling people about my wife’s family.  My father in law has 9 children, 61 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.  It’s pretty funny having to whip out a calculator to add up all his grand-children.


1. dallas - September 30, 2010

Better than “Are they all yours” since mine all look just like me is “Do they all have the same father?”

2. Cori - October 1, 2010

A very holy woman I know said that when someone asks her “don’t you know…,” she replies, “Yes, and we kind of like it,” with the emphasis on “like it.”

She figures it is such a rude question, why not go for it.

3. Fr Matthew Green - October 1, 2010

Big families are a gift from God.

I’m one of two children, but my paternal grandmother was one of 21… from a Mormon polygamist family. As a Catholic priest, of course, I don’t have any kids of my own, but I greatly admire parents who accept the gift of many children, with all the social and financial difficulties it might imply.

4. Christina - October 5, 2010

‎”One wouldn’t think of making remarks about fertility to couples with few or no children…” Tell me who those “ones” are who wouldn’t think of such a thing. I haven’t met them yet.

I HAVE met plenty of people who will ask why we only have one, when we’ll have another, if we’re infertile, if we’ve tried IVF, when we’ll give our only child a brother or sister, and much more including some questions I wouldn’t even repeat. All in front of and sometimes actually TO said child whose subsequent tears leave them baffled and undeterred. Strangers off the street, mind you. Comments from fellow Catholics, scandalous and presumptious gossip about what we must be doing to have only one, have been among the most cutting.

Large families have no market on rude questions regarding their family size or fertility.

tantamergo - October 5, 2010

Well, probably so, whatever deviates from what someone else is doing tends to be questioned, although when we had one or two I don’t recall hearing them. Same thing for us, we get questions about the size of our family a couple or more times a month, generally from complete strangers. And we recently had an acquiantance say in front of our kids “you have too many kids.” We’ve heard that a number of times.

Most times people just don’t think before they speak. It’s more funny than anything else.

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