Several days ago, I had a few idle minutes during which I browsed the web, and came across some articles which spoke in the most hateful, disgustingly rude way about large families in general and the Duggar family in particular.
I should have been wise enough to turn my eyes away and close the browser window, because it was obvious such awful things could only be written by someone who has no idea what he's talking about (and should get a life!), but for some reason, I didn't do that; for a couple of minutes, I looked through some of them.
One of the most common objections against families with many children is that children are deprived and get no individual attention. Ten children inevitably get ten times less love and attention than one child, they argue. How ridiculous! Love is not a pie to be cut into pieces; our kind, loving, amazing God loves all of us infinitely, as communities, families, and individuals, and knows us better than the oldest, most faithful friend. His love has no bounds or restrictions, and none of us will ever be deprived. In a good, strong family we find a reflection of God's love for all the children, together and as individuals.
What shows the hypocrisy of this claim is that the people who shake their heads when they look at the Duggars, saying that the Duggar children are 'lost in the crowd', are usually precisely the ones who don't hesitate even a moment before shipping their own children off to daycare, where it's certain they won't get any individual attention.
Another argument was that in a large family, many responsibilities inevitably fall on the shoulders of older children. That one especially made me roll my eyes. Wow, children having actual responsibilities! What a tragedy.
My grandmother grew up in a family with seven children, and since five of them were boys and her only sister was twelve years younger than she was, you can imagine the amount of washing, mending, sewing, fixing and cleaning Grandma had to do as a young girl! They weren't rich, but there was order and dignity in their household, and all the children (except the younger girl, who sadly died when she was young) grew up to be respectable, responsible adults, without commitment phobia or self-centeredness. Surely, no one says older children can or should replace parents. But responsibilities are good for children, and help them form their character; and looking after younger siblings, even more so.
Certainly, children are a gift from God, and therefore a married couple might have only one child even if they long for more. I'm not saying being an only child means being self-centered. But to say that doing chores and helping little brothers and sisters means being deprived and 'robbed of childhood'? Excuse me, but is there any better way for developing a loving, gentle, patient, generous and noble character? I'm not a mother yet, but from my observation, teaching children to be helpers and givers early in life encourages them to develop into wholesome adults, as opposing to the self-obsessed, immersed in egoistic whims, immature 30-year-olds we sadly see all too often.
The picture above is of my Grandma (middle of the back row) and her family. I know it's blurry, but this was the best of my attempts. It was taken sometime between 1931 and 1933.