My mum, born in 1952 is one of ten children born to the same mother and father. She was adopted into a family with just one other child. My mother in law is one of six kids, and my father in law one of four.
I am the eldest of five children on my mum’s side. And, I gained a step sister later in life. So I have always grown up with people around me.
But I look around me today and I know very few people, very few indeed, that are below 40 and have more than three children in their family. In fact three children is considered a large family today. Many people I know have “stopped at one”… so they can afford the finer things in life. “It’s a lifestyle choice” for some… and for others it is a devastating thing they can’t change due to health challenges.
The days of large families with many children has come to an end it appears, with the national fertility rate falling from 3.6 at its peak in 1961 to slightly above its lows at 1.88 in 2013. Life, logic, and the cost of living are getting in the way of large families, with most couples choosing to stop at one or two. A large family today has three kids. But that’s not how it was decades ago. In fact, many people here will have come from larger families no doubt with many siblings.
There has been plenty of research done over the years about the impact of this changing family dynamic on the world. Smaller family sizes and children growing up with fewer or no siblings has been blamed for everything from increased divorce rates to greater loneliness later in life…
But the only people who can really see the difference and tell us about it are those who have lived through an era where there was frankly, more children in every family (almost).
So today we ask you what it was like coming from a family with many siblings…. or few? Has society changed because of the smaller number of people per household? And it is for the better or worse?