Parenting at scale

I have long been fascinated by larger families. Now, I suppose, I officially have one myself! I spent some time this fall reporting an essay on parenting and larger families in an era of declining fertility rates. The piece ran in the New York Times yesterday.

Please give it a read! My favorite part is probably the accompanying photo of my husband helping our 4-year-old brush his teeth. My 8-year-old daughter was incensed that you can only see the back of her head in the school bus shot. Oh well!

In other news: My Forge column this week covers the question of whether you have to become a morning person to fit in regular exercise.

15 thoughts on “Parenting at scale

  1. Very interesting article! I grew up with six siblings and we got a lot of comments about our family size even back in the 80’s’!

    1. @Anne- I think 6 has been big for a while! Even back in the peak TFR days (in modern times at least) of the 50s.

  2. Nice article! I am part of an Orthodox Jewish community (where families of 5 are on the small-medium size) and I am one of eight, so I love reading about large families.

    I am really enjoying your posts about parenting with a newborn, btw. I started following your blog about three years ago so I missed out on your previous babies, and I love hearing about how logistics change when family size increases.

    1. @AR – thanks! It’s all about perspective! Sadly, one anecdote got cut for space: I interviewed Carney while he was in an Uber on the way to the airport, and after a while of us talking about the challenges of spending one-on-one time with our broods (of 5 or 6) his Uber driver, a gentleman from Ethiopia, mentioned that he was one of 12! So 5-6 seemed small 🙂

  3. Thank you for this article! It’s wonderful to see a major publication show a positive perspective on big families. I am expecting my fourth and have been dismayed by the negative reactions we’ve received, but I have no doubt that it’s right for us. Adding #3 was the easiest transition so far, and I’m hoping that’s the more-kids-less-stressing phenomenon holds up this time around as well. Finally, I’m glad you featured Kristin! She’s an inspiration to many.

    1. @Katie – Kristin is wonderful! And I’ve heard that the NY Times is getting a lot of positive feedback from big family sorts, which is great 🙂

  4. Long time reader, first time poster! Thank you for writing this NYT article, and for all your work on this subject. The exuberance of young siblings (and the camaraderie of older siblings) is a true joy to witness. I’m not surprised people are wistful.

    Most of all — congratulations!

  5. Great article Laura. I am fascinated by family size and how it shapes someone’s perspective. My dad is one of 13 children, my mom 1 of 2. I’m one of 4 kids, my husband is an only child. Growing up I always spent holidays with my dad’s family and my own life at home was loud and hectic. When I got married, my husband was semi-horrified attending our family Christmas party! Kids were running around everyone, and you could barely hear yourself over what I will call your stereotypical Boston Irish Catholic family. Thankfully he has gotten used to it and usually finds a quiet seat in the corner and naps when we get home. Haha!

  6. This is a great article! I grew up as the oldest of five kids, and hope to have a large family of my own someday. I loved having so many siblings. Luckily we all get along, so, while I know it’s cheesy and cliche, I automatically have four lifelong best friends!

  7. Congratulations on your newest addition! I’ve been a fan of your writing for some time and was delighted when I ran across your NYT article and learned you had expanded your brood. I am the youngest of two and never thought I’d be the mother of four boys, but we love it! The best thing? Seeing my oldest (13) interact with my youngest (3). Teenagers can be very inward focused, but the baby softens him and draws him out. Our house is loud and messy but my husband and I often remark that we’d be lonely without our crew!

    1. @Ann- I totally agree with this – little siblings soften teens and remind them of something outside themselves. It’s really cool to see.

  8. I really like your use of the term “modern fretting.” I can see that much of your writing is focused on helping people relax and realize that, for the most part, things work themselves out.

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