Feeling judged on my family size
“Even when they’re good as gold, somebody will have to have a dig”.
If you’re raising a big family or a small one, chances are you’ve had your fair share of judgemental comments and questions. But when it comes to raising a family, whatever the size, the only right way is the one that works for you.
Average family size in the UK
According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2020 the average size of the UK household was 2.41. And that’s not 2.4 children, that’s a statistic covering the entire household. One thing’s for sure, family dynamics are never static, and what’s changed is how those families look, and the different ways in which they’re choosing to raise their children.
Raising a big family
There are many reasons why you might choose to have a large family. But whatever those reasons are, they’re yours and yours alone. Unfortunately though, judgement happens.
You might find yourself faced with completely unnecessary questions and comments, for example, ‘are they all yours?’ or ‘you’ve got your hands full’.
What is the effect of family size on child performance?
A potential worry for anybody raising a big family, is the effect of family size on child performance. Are children of big families more likely to struggle academically? Does having a larger family mean less resources and less time to help your children learn?
Whilst there’s some evidence to suggest that children of smaller families may perform better in terms of their education2, there’s also no doubt that children of big families learn other skills, such as sharing, teamwork and self-sufficiency. So ultimately, it’s swings and roundabouts.
Raising a small family
On the other side of the parenting coin, some parents choose to have just one or two children. But just like parents raising bigger families, they also experience the same kind of questions and comments. For example, ‘when are you having your next one?’ or, if they’ve already had two children of the same sex, ‘are you going to try for a boy/girl next?’
Parents raising only children are labelled with even more misconceptions and unwarranted opinions. Suggestions that their child will be spoiled or lonely, or that they’ll be unable to share or mix appropriately with others3, to name just a few.
Feeling judged as a single or lone parent
In 2019, lone parent families accounted for 14.9% of UK families4. So if you’re feeling judged, know that you won’t be the only parent feeling this way.
Relationships break down and couples separate. Sometimes there are children involved. What you need to know is that being a single parent doesn’t mean that you’re on your own, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re doing a bad job.
How to raise a family, whatever yours looks like
“You’re doing amazing, you know? You’re not doing anything wrong. As long as that baby’s happy and content, you’re doing your job”.
At the end of the day, whether you're raising a small family or a big one, whether you’re a lone parent or part of a couple, the rules of the game are the same.
Here are our top tips for raising a happy family, whatever its size:
- Carve out some one on one time. It’s lovely to spend time all together, but making sure you spend some quality time with each of your children is really nice too.
- Whatever your family dynamic, raising children isn’t always easy. Take time for yourself, you deserve it.
- As long as it’s done safely, there’s no reason your children can’t help with certain jobs around the house. Whether it’s setting the table, putting their clothes away or tidying away their toys, this can be a really fun learning opportunity no matter the size of your family.
- Take control of the decision making. If who sits next to who at the dinner table causes an argument, make a seating plan. If bath nights and uniform requirements cause chaos, diarise them. Putting into place a no-nonsense approach to parenting can really help maintain a happy household.
But most important of all? Be proud of the family you’re raising, and make sure your children are proud too. The more confident you are in the choices you make, the more likely you are to challenge judgement.
At the end of the day, there’s no such thing as a perfectly sized family. The right number of children for you, is the number of children you have. And if you love them, everyone’s happiness will follow.
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5968199/ Evaluations of the behavioral attributes of only children in Beijing, China: moderating effects of gender and the one-child policy
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