Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Large Family Hysteria

Sometimes – not very frequently - stories of large families are published in magazines and their interviews aired on current affair programmes. These ‘day in the life’ style accounts serve rather to sensationalize than normalize the large family.

These days, any more than 4 children tends to catapult the family into the ‘large’ category, but for the purpose of gossip rags and current affairs television, 8 or more children is usually required.

Always the follow-on opinion, letters to the editor and online comment seethe with an abhorrence for these ‘breeders’, with many a dig about the lack of television, almost-certain religious foundations and cult-like indoctrination that must surely dominate the lives of these children.

How can someone handle so many children? spectators ask. One might ask how a teacher handles 30 children. Surely a mother can handle 8 or 10 of her own children of varying ages better than a teacher who has the care of 25-30 children who are all of the same age. Yet no one interviews the classroom teacher, turning her in to a cover story. It is just the late-30s mum with 8 children who bears the brunt of society’s anti-child vehemence.

So why do some families subject themselves to society’s scorn by agreeing to media coverage of their lives, even if only for a brief moment?

There is something to be said for living a quiet, happy life. Away from the media spotlight and without feeling the need to bring cameras into one’s home to show off how well one is doing with many children.

Children are a blessing. They are not an accomplishment.

© Eva Whiteley 2011

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