It's more rare today, but there are many benefits to being raised with many siblings.
I have eight brothers and sisters, and I’m so glad I do. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on how much I take for granted coming from a large, loving family. No family is perfect, and no person, most especially myself, is perfect. But there is a particular buoyancy and joy that comes with a big group of people who are actively trying to love each other. Here are five specific aspects of being from a big family that I cherish.
1The sense of camaraderie
As an adult, coming home for holidays or special events to a large group of people who love and care about you is wonderful. Sharing memories and reminiscing with eight other people makes for a lively, fun time. It can seem overwhelming or strange if it’s not something you’re used to, but a big family is a little like its own small tribe. And it’s such a gift when you’re part of that tribe — when you belong to this unique set of people with its own particular customs and memories. I feel so welcomed, loved, and included when we’re together.
2There’s always someone to talk to
This changes from childhood to adulthood, but it’s a beautiful thing. As a kid, there was always someone to play with or talk to, and now, as an adult, having siblings to share life with is very comforting. Relationships change and grow, and while navigating that can be tricky (as it is with any relationship), the fruits are worth it. If you didn’t get along with your siblings as children, there’s always the possibility that you will reconnect as adults in a new and deeper way.
3Sharing and pitching in were normal
To make life with a lot of people work, everyone has to be willing to help out. At some point you realize that bickering and shirking responsibility just prolongs the process, and you learn to get things done as part of a team. That has been invaluable in so many parts of life … Marriage? Check. Problem solving with a team at work? Check. Making a party or event run smoothly? Check. You can’t beat a built-in training system for lifelong teamwork and work ethic skills.
4Babies were a normal part of life
Babies are amazing. They have a way of unifying people through their utter helplessness and sweetness. It’s strange how someone so small can bring such joy and pride to much larger, more rational creatures. Getting to experience all the firsts of different kinds for siblings was incredible: from those first newborn days home from the hospital, to first steps, and first words. Watching a tiny person grow and learn is fascinating and life-changing. And often, no matter where you fall in the line of a big family, there are babies — if you’re the youngest, the oldest kids may be having kids when you’re still fairly young yourself!
5My resume for babysitting jobs was impressive
As a middle schooler and high schooler, it was easy to find babysitting jobs because having built-in experience with little kids turns out to instill a lot of confidence in other parents. However, I don’t think I would have had those skills without my family. I’m not naturally great at relating to children, but I was able to develop that skill thanks to my younger siblings.
Growing up there were many things going on at any particular time, and lots of people in any given space. But that made for a vibrant and love-filled childhood. And it’s given me a support system into adulthood that I truly appreciate. I can’t imagine life without each of my siblings. Thanks, Mom and Dad!