Thursday, September 4, 2008

Having Large Families

Everyone always says having a lot of kids is expensive. But yet every time I think of a big family I think of “Cheaper by the Dozen”. In the title it says “cheaper”, so then having a big family should be cheaper, buying things in bulk and so on. There is one family I babysit by, that is up to baby #12. I can’t wait for this baby to come, the family had been away in the summer, and just came back this past week. It was then that I noticed baby #12 is on its way.

This family is my favorite family in the whole entire world. From the day I met the kids when I was 8 or 9, I have felt a connection towards them. I used to play with the kids all the time when I was younger. I had “raised” 5 of them. Holding them when they were babies, changing their diapers, feeding them, playing with them, and everything. I love these kids so much. The oldest is 16, 9 girls and 2 boys. Each kid has 2 names or more, its amazing how they don’t run out of names.

What’s really amazing is, the kids are all so well behaved. When the kids would play outside, not one of them would go into the street. The parents would rest on Shabbos, and not one of them would wake them up, they all knew to be quiet. The kids received all the attention they needed. The mother would sit with each kid and go over parsha sheets and school stuff, and talk with them, and sing with them. They each got one on one attention.

For many years they had a one floor house, and had only 3 bedrooms. Then a few years ago they redid their house and now they have 2 floors, with plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms. They have a big playroom where they have closets full of games and toys. Each kid has a different chore. One of them is to clean the playroom. When I go over there and play with the kids, I always offer to clean the room after I play, or more like I start cleaning up, then the kid who’s chore it is, tells me that I don’t have to do it, that its her job. These kids don’t complain about their “jobs” they have.

Also, with many of the families that I have babysat for a long time, the kids had started getting used to me and misbehaved. These kids I’ve known for the longest time, and yet they always behave and listen to me. Although sometimes bed time can be hard, as is normal with all kids, they don’t give such a hard time.

Now the feeling of love I have for these kids are mutual, which makes it all the more rewarding. When the 1 year old would see me, he would start running towards me. The kids always want me to come to their house on Shabbos to play with them. Although some times I want to talk with the older kids, I end up giving in and go play with the little ones.

Now back to the expenses issue, one big expense is tuition. The reason why they may be able to afford it, is because both parents are teachers. For many years the kids got free tuition, or at least a discounted one. But even by a different family where they have to pay for the kids tuition I don’t think it should serve as a factor to stop the parents from having many kids.

I think having a large family isn’t for everyone, but it can be a great thing for those that are able to do it. It takes great parenting, if you are a great parent then no matter how many children you have, they should turn out great.

I heard a great little dvar torah recently that I found applicable to this situation. It says “Ishto Kigafno” That a wife should be like a vineyard. Now there are different types of trees. There are the really strong ones with no fruit. Then there are the fruit trees with a lesser strength of wood. Then there is the vineyard, which is the weakest type of wood. The vineyard gives all its strength to its fruits. So when it says the wife should be like a vineyard, it means a great mother is one that cares for her children and gives all her strength over to them.

Which is why if a husband comes home and sees the wife sleeping on the couch with all the kids running around wild, he should know what a great wife she is. That she has given over all her energy over to her kids, like a vineyard. So the husband gets it good, when he comes home from work, the wife has already done all the work and cared for the kids, now he gets to enjoy them.


  1. i agree that family size is not necessarily an indicator of how the kids will turn out. bad parents can screw up an only child and good parents can raise 12 wonderful kids.

    naturally i disagree with you about the $ question. this has been discussed already ad nauseum on Orthonomics. i just want to point
    out that if a family has a lot of children and can't afford the tuition, that $ has to come from somewhere, i.e., increased tuition for other families or by further draining the limited resources of the general community. is this fair? i know you are going to tell me בטחון, but that $ eventually has to come from somewhere, and it doesn't directly from Heaven.

    also, this is obviously not relevant to you, but in MO schools, tuition for pre-school can be 13-14k a year and high school can approach 30k a year. and even your RW schools are more expensive once you leave brooklyn. it is thus no wonder that yeshivah tuition is referred to as orthodox birth control

  2. ps. it's nice you have such a wonderful relationship with those kids. i just hope you are not giving them any discounts for multiple children!

  3. I have noticed how you said the father comes home from "work" You are most probably dreaming and this will never happen. The father doesnt go to work he goes to learn in kollel and the mother works. (kidding)

  4. I also agree that children from large families tend to be well behaved, polite, and unselfish (I guess they've learned to share). But I can not imagine how two parents (particularly teachers) can afford to support 12 children. That must be very very hard.

  5. Lion Of Zion: Your right the money has to come from somewhere, I don't like the whole idea of leeching off of other people. But you know if your meant to have a certain amount of expenses, you will have it no matter what. If you don't have a lot of children, then perhaps the expenses will come in other ways, like things will break down and have to be replaced.

    Plus, if a family of 5 uses 1 of the parents income, then if 2 parents work, that means it's double and should be able to support at least 10 kids.

    We were learning in Taxes that there is a $1,000 credit per child. So then one guy said, we should have more children because of that. Then my prof said it's a loose situation. The $1,000 doesn't even begin to cover the expenses of a child.

    But I still think people worry too much about money. A family could reduce their spending a bit. They don't have to be so lavish. This family works very systematically. They even get more stuff than other people. They get new shoes twice a year. They each get a robe twice a year. They each get uniforms. etc. But they won't buy their kids 5 knapsacks throughout the year. 1 should last through the year. While in other families if a kid sees something they want then they automatically get it.

    Also, another expense is food. This family the mother makes supper every single day, and she has a menu for them, so they know what they are going to have. By other places I know where the children have to look through the fridge finding leftovers to eat.

    So even though it would seem they shouldn't be able to afford things, they are living a much better lifestyle, and seem to be able to afford everything, by spending their money wisely.

    About tuition, by MO High School's they offer the kids scholarships. It's sad that it should prevent people from having more kids.

    lol, its one rate per family, so yea they do get more for their money. But most of the times I go there, I go for free. They only recently started paying me, because I hadn't had time to go over on my own.

    M in M: that is not everyone, there is still a work force of men out there.

    SuperRaizy: they seem to be able to afford it pretty well. I never hear the kids complaining about wanting things.

  6. i dont know about the kids running around wild when the dad comes home... i would think the dad would be a little annoyed, if the kids are well behaved they should not be running around like vilda chaos. if the mom did her job right they are doing their hw and in pj's so the dad can enjoy quiet (as much as kids are "quiet") delighfulness after a hard days work and the kids should understand that. that is my goal as a future mother. i never want to hear my kids shouting and screaming for more then 1 minute unless they are outside playing and having fun.
    i also know a family ki"h with 12 kids growing up... (i think 13 or 14 now) its an amazing thing. they were also doing all the things necessary to keep the house normal as much as possible(not much vilda chaos going on! :D)

  7. Miriam: yea I think when I heard it, the person meant it as a joke. But yea, the family I know with baby #12 on the way, all the kids behave excellently they are never wild animals. One kid has a little wild streak, but she knows there's a time and place for it.

  8. Just surfing and came across your article. I think it's adorable, I really enjoyed it. -A Mommy of a large family!

  9. "I don't like the whole idea of leeching off of other people."

    but in effect that's what happens.

    "If you don't have a lot of children, then perhaps the expenses will come in other ways, like things will break down and have to be replaced."

    there is no relationship between the amount of children and the amount of incidental expenses (such as things breaking). you can have a lot of kids AND have a lot of things breaking.

    and btw, the more kids you have the greater chance things will be breaking :)
    not everyone is as well behaved as that family you babysit for with 43 kids

    "if a family of 5 uses 1 of the parents income, then if 2 parents work, that means it's double and should be able to support at least 10 kids."

    not if the second salary bumps you up into a higher tax bracket. and there are also a lot of families that already have both parents working

    "by MO High School's they offer the kids scholarships.

    unfortunately it is not as easy as you make it out to be

    "It's sad that it should prevent people from having more kids."

    sad, but that's what happens.


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