Eight is Enough


When I was growing up, there was a TV show called Eight is Enough.  As the name implied, the sitcom centered around a Sacramento, California family with eight children (from oldest to youngest: David, Mary, Joanie, Susan, Nancy, Elizabeth, Tommy, and Nicholas). The father Tom Bradford (Dick Van Patten) was a widower and worked as a newspaper columnist.

Although it originally aired before Eight is Enough, the Brady Bunch was another show about a large blended family with six children. It ran in syndication for years capitalizing on the hilarity and hijinx that ensued because of Carol and Mike Brady’s unusually large family and their unique situation. Carol had three daughters and Mike had three sons from previous marriages.

Although fictional, both shows gave perspective on what it was like to raise a large family. There were boys and girls of all ages going through life’s trials and tribulations. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of bonding and a lot of fun. For someone like me with only one sibling, that had appeal.

As I got older, I always seemed to meet and date people with large families.  I was drawn to them. Occasionally, I would realize that with more people in a household came more drama. During those times, I would be happy to return to the peace and quiet of my own home with just me, my sister, my mom and dad.

So this brings me to my point. How many is too many? Is eight enough? If you ask Jim Bob and Michelle Dugger, the real-life mom and dad on the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting!” they would disagree.

They aren’t alone. There are a number of others who have said bigger is better.  From Jon and Kate Gosselin or OctoMom with eight children each, to the Jolie-Pitts, to the Hayes Family (stars of the TV show Table for Twelve,) large families are present everywhere.  

Is it because people like me are fascinated by people like them? The shows are obviously aimed to those who didn’t grow up in that lifestyle. Are big families en vogue? Or, has it become a bit of a freak show?

I don’t know.

I always said that if money weren’t an issue, I would have four or maybe even five kids. Of course, it is an issue for our family, so most likely my family will remain of average size. According to the U.S Census, that means 2.59 per family.

Based on survey data analyzed by Steve Martin, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, he says it’s not so much that big families are back, as that they never disappeared in the first place. “Large families have consistently been common,” he points out. “Two is the norm, but for every 34 mothers who stop at two, there are 28 who have three, four, or more.”

It was found that 28 percent of women age 35 to 44, who are winding up their childbearing years, have three kids or more.

I have heard people say, “Well, now I have a boy and a girl; I am done.” Or, that “you just know” when you are done. Personally, I have not had that feeling yet.  Or if I did, I missed it. Although my “done” status may be pending to date, I am pretty darn sure for me, eight is enough. (Heck, maybe two is enough.)

What’s your maximum capacity?

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About bizemom

I am a busy working mom (get it... "Biz e-Mom"?) of three kids under the age of four. I have a white-collar day job, I have a night job as a mom, and an "in between" job as a freelance writer and blogger. What can I say, I am a glutton for punishment and I don't go to bed until 1 a.m. No matter how much I complain, I like being busy. That must be the Sagitarius in me--we get bored easily. Now on to the next adventure (I mean... venture!)
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5 Responses to Eight is Enough

  1. Love it! I just met a mom the other day whose sister has 11 children. My jaw dropped! She JUST had her 11th. Her oldest daughter is married with two babies, so grandmom is having babies still! Whew… I have three; three has been a tough challenge. As much as I’d love to picture myself with more, three has exhausted my body in ways unimaginable. Loved this post!

  2. This is an interesting subject. My grandmother had 8 sisters and 1 brother. I would not say they were ever a happy family. I though grew up with Brady Bunch and Eight is enough. I have two natural born children, 3 that I raised through family circumstance and my husband has 3 from his marriage. Collectively we have 8, we are older now hitting our 50’s. The first 5 are grown and are 30 – 19 years old. My two natural children are 14 and 16. We have never had all 8 in the same place at the same time. Which is actually 14 when you add spouses and no grandchildren yet. Whew! I can not imagine having a family of 19 or 8 naturally.

    This also brings up another question or subject, what about each couples responsibility of our environment and population control. Is it responsible to bring so many children into the world when there are so many needing homes? What about polution, food, housing, and all the other things a human needs to survive? Is it responsible for one family to have more than 2 children?

  3. 19 and Counting: cash cow. Octomom: Cash cow and sick. Angie & Brad: A combo of true humanitarianism and personal issues. Exceptionally large families in agrarian cultures make sense, as do large families in some religious cultures. Apart from that, they generally bear the scent of underlying unresolved issues. Or simply failure to employ birth control!

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