Are Big Families Fading?

A recent report on FOXNews states that “In the last 30 years, the number of women age 40 to 44 with no children has doubled, from 10 percent to 20 percent. And those who are mothers have an average of 1.9 children each, more than one child fewer than women of the same age in 1976.”  It also says that unemployed women had twice as many babies as employed women.

If “unemployed” means “stay at home”, it makes sense. Of course women who stay home with their kids would have more. Working full time with a child, or children, is very difficult; I did this for nearly 4 years with my oldest. It’s very tiring to work all day then take care of child, house, dinner, then have time for self. If I weren’t able to stay home with my kids, I know I wouldn’t have 3 by now. I would have just Gab, maybe Pierce, if I really wanted to stretch it.

Back in the 1800’s and early 1900’s it was common to have large families, with 5 to 12 children. The infant mortality rate was much higher than it is now. Survival rate among those children is much higher than it was then. Many people also lived on farms, where the more hands they had the better. Girls would work with their mothers in the house, doing all cooking, laundry and cleaning by hand. Boys would help their fathers work all day in the sun farming or ranching.

Families were also much more self-sufficient than they are now. If I want milk, I go to the store and use money (or plastic) to pay for it. I certainly don’t slaughter my own chickens, cows, or pigs (yuck). We have a garden, but it’s very small and we could never survive on what’s in it now. If a family back then had land and animals, they fed themselves and set away some for winter.

So, yeah, it makes sense we have smaller families now. One or 2 children is a smaller average than I thought, though. In my family (siblings), 3 is average. And if more women are focused on their career, they’re not stopping to have kids. To each their own, but I’m happy to have the number I have.