Pope Benedict XVI, in an audience with members of an Italian association of large families earlier this year, offered encouragement to couples who welcome children as a blessing from God. He said, “There is no future without children.”
The Holy Father continued, “In today’s context, a family made of many children constitutes a witness of faith, courage and optimism. … I hope that adequate social and legislative measures are promoted that safeguard and sustain large families, which represent richness and hope for the whole country.”
The light of Christianity
Only the divine and eternal light of Christianity gives full life and meaning to the family and this is so true that right from the beginning and through the whole course of its history, large families have often been considered as synonymous with Christian families.
Respect for divine laws has made them abound with life; faith in God gives parents the strength and vigor they need to face the sacrifice and self-denial demanded for the raising of their children; Christian principles guide them and help them in the hard work of education; the Christian spirit of love watches over their peace and good order, and seems to draw forth from nature and bestow the deepest family joys that belong to parents, to children, to brothers and sisters.
Even externally, a large, well-ordered family is a kind of visible shrine: the sacrament of Baptism is not an exceptional event for them but something constantly renewing the joy and grace of the Lord. The series of happy pilgrimages to the Baptismal font is not yet finished when a new one to Confirmation and first Communion begins, aglow with the same innocence. The youngest of the children will scarcely have put away his little white suit among the dearest memories of life, when the first wedding veil appears to bring parents, children, and new relatives together at the foot of the altar. More marriages, more Baptisms, more first Communions follow each other like ever-new springtimes that, in a sense, make the visits of God and of His grace to the home unending.
Trust in God
But God also visits large families with His Providence, and parents, especially those who are poor, give clear testimony to this by resting all their trust in Him when human efforts are not enough. A trust that has a solid foundation and is not in vain! Providence — to put it in human words and ideas — is not a sum total of exceptional acts of divine pity; it is the ordinary result of harmonious activity on the part of the infinite wisdom, goodness and omnipotence of the Creator. God will never refuse a means of living to those He calls into being.
The Divine Master has explicitly taught that “life is worth more than food, and the body more than clothing” (cf. Matt. 6, 25). If single incidents, whether small or great, seem to contradict this, it is a sign that man has placed some obstacle in the way of divine order, or else, in exceptional cases, that God has higher plans for good; but Providence is something real, something necessary since God is the Creator.
Happiness in a large family
It is very different from the serenity of spirit to be found in parents who are surrounded by a rich abundance of young lives. The joy that comes from the plentiful blessings of God breaks out in a thousand different ways and there is no fear that it will end. The brows of these fathers and mothers may be burdened with cares, but there is never a trace of that inner shadow that betrays anxiety of conscience or fear of an irreparable return to loneliness, Their youth never seems to fade away, as long as the sweet fragrance of a crib remains in the home, as long as the walls of the house echo to the silvery voices of children and grandchildren.
Their heavy labors multiplied many times over, their redoubled sacrifices and their renunciation of costly amusements are generously rewarded even here below by the inexhaustible treasury of affection and tender hopes that dwell in their hearts without ever tiring them or bothering them.
And the hopes soon become a reality when the eldest daughter begins to help her mother to take care of the baby and on the day the oldest son comes home with his face beaming with the first salary he has earned himself. That day will be a particularly happy one for parents, for it will make the spectre of an old age spent in misery disappear, and they will feel assured of a reward for their sacrifices.
When there are many children, the youngsters are spared the boredom of loneliness and the discomfort of having to live in the midst of adults all the time. It is true that they may sometimes become so lively as to get on your nerves, and their disagreements may seem like small riots; but even their arguments play an effective role in the formation of character, as long as they are brief and superficial. Children in large families learn almost automatically to be careful of what they do and to assume responsibility for it, to have a respect for each other and help each other, to be open-hearted and generous. For them, the family is a little proving ground, before they move into the world outside, which will be harder on them and more demanding.
Disadvantages and Advantages to Being an Only Child
One of the main advantages of being the only child is that your parents pay attention only to you. You are the most important person in their lives. Parents do everything for you. For example, if you want a new toy or some clothes they go to a shop and just buy it for you. Moreover, you have everything for yourself. You do not have to share the room, the computer and any other things. What is more you get more presents or more money. In addition to that, there is no person to quarrel with. You are alone and no one can take your things and do something wrong with them. No one disturbs you. You are a family ‘pet’ and you get all parential love.
These disadvantages and advantages were posted by only children on various websites:
- Too much pressure from parents to perform well
- No one to grow up with – it would be more fun with brothers and sisters
- Too quiet in the house after being outside playing with friends
- Worried about being the sole caretaker of elderly parents
- Pressure to have children to carry on the family name
- Overprotective parents
- Harder to make friends
- Will never have nieces or nephews
- Glad to not have to deal with siblings
- Have friends who are like brothers and sisters but don’t have to live together
- Very attached to parents, have a great relationship
- More awareness of self
- Have more help pursuing goals
- More independent
- Have parents undivided attention
- Don’t have to share
- Don’t have to compare myself to siblings
- Don’t have to fight parents for conversation