- There is always someone to play with. With enough people around there is usually someone who is willing to play the desired game. There are enough people to play hide-and-seek or sardines or games requiring more than two players. There are enough people to act out Goldilocks and the Three Bears. There are enough people to both turn and jump a jump rope.
- Intense parental energy is spread over a wider audience. My older children in particular see this as a huge benefit. One child rarely gets complete and focused parental energy for an extended period of time. It gives a child a little room to be themselves and try things for themselves. The few times we have eaten dinner with just one child, the child tends to get a deer-in-the-headlights look about them and starts to feel just a little too under the microscope.
- Dinner (or breakfast or lunch) conversation is lively and entertaining. If one person doesn't feel like talking, it doesn't equal an uncomfortably silent table. There are always several others who are willing to take up the conversational slack.
- Watching the different ages interact is great fun. There are very few things sweeter than seeing one's teenaged son hold a baby sibling. It gives the older children of the family a realistic sense of what each childhood stage is like; they have no illusions over the work of a baby or the stubbornness of a toddler. But they also know the corresponding joys of what each of these stages bring as well. The younger children have the benefit of having so many more people to love and care for them. I see this so much in G. and L.'s attitude toward life. They are happy and joyful little girls (most of the time) mainly because they feel so safe and loved, feelings that have developed by having so many people around them who love and care for them. There is always someone nearby to put on a band-aid.
- There are more people to cheer your successes. I remember the day K. learned to ride his bike. When he got back to our front yard, nearly all his brothers and sisters were out cheering for him. There are also more people to stand up for you and more people to cry along with you.
- Sharing and cooperativeness becomes a way of life. There is no one person in the family who operates under the impression that they are the single most important person in the universe. And if they do happen to have the misconception, there is always someone else around to help correct that idea. (Future college roommates can thank me.)
- Life is just fun. Usually. It's like a party all the time with so many people around. Of course, if you also have a family of introverts like I do, you also need to plan in downtime so the party can continue to be fun. You also learn that one person's bad mood (unless it's the mom's) doesn't have to wreck the party.
- When a baby joins the family there are more people to hold him, babies in large families are rarely left to sit in a corner on their own. There is a lot of human contact and love.
- There are more hands to hold, more arms to hug, more ideas to share, more people to help out, more people to sing Happy Birthday. And more love. Much more love.
And I'll leave you with a really good God story. Not more than an hour after I hit publish on yesterday's post, the phone rang. On the other end was a friend who had a washer and dryer in her garage and they wanted to give them to us. It made me cry. Soli Deo Gloria.