I am married to a man who is the oldest of nine children. The youngest is currently four, almost five. Nothing, absolutely nothing, kids do freaks him out. I see the youngest popping an action figure into her mouth before playing with it, and my jaw drops. You're almost five, why are you doing that? But my husband just laughs. All kids do stuff like that all the time, punch holes in things, bite stuff, etc, etc, etc.
I worry so much about whether I'll be a good mother when we have kids and that sort of thing, but the thought doesn't even phase him because he has been raising kids most of his life. There was always a baby in the house. He doesn't see a baby and freeze the way most of my friends do. He sees a baby says, "It's okay guys. The baby is a person just like you, just smaller." It amazes me sometimes.
It really seems that growing up in a big family, like my grandparents and husband did, teaches you parenting, and how to deal with children. That's how people got along for most of human history, without endless manuals and guides to birthing and children. Just being a part of a family and knowing other families, seeing children and learning from those who had been there, was the best guide book there could be.
My mother-in-law, the serene mother of nine, knows how it is. She was part of a family of ten children. She says most of the books and little rules out there just contribute to anxiety for pregnant women, and don't help all that much, like feeling your belly all the time to make sure the baby kicks once an hour. What about when he/she sleeps? Waiting for the baby to kick all the time does nothing but produce anxious waiting, it won't cure or help anything. When my times comes, I'm just glad that I know my husband, and our families.
Things can be so compartmentalized now. Often, once you are no longer a child, you no longer see children really, unless you work at a day care. Gone are the days of kids coming home from school and playing in the neighborhood together after school. We don't know how to react to babies and children anymore. It's sad. We don't integrate all of life... we just separate everything into its own little area, and because of that I think we can miss the big picture of life, in all its glorious and less glorious aspects, together as a unified whole.
Do you agree that coming from a large family can help prepare you for becoming a parent? What are some other benefits for a child of a large family?