‘I Like Having a Lot of Siblings Because …’

St. John Paul II said the best gift to give a child is a sibling. That gift is not always possible to give, and it is a myth to say that large families are always necessary or best.

But with Thanksgiving this week, I thought I would revisit an exercise I did when our ninth child was new: I asked the children what they liked about having so many siblings. Here are their answers:

“I like being in a big family because you always have someone to play with.”

“I like being in a big family because the inside family jokes aren’t always about you.”

“I like our family because if you don’t get along with one sibling, there are always eight others to try.”

“In a large family, there are always plenty of people to help you clean up.”

“It’s good because if you pretend to build a spaceship or some other vehicle, there are always people to help you.”

“In a big family you are forced to live more generously.”

“You have to find yourself in the chaos – you are forced to make your voice heard above the din.”

“I love watching movies about big, happy families. You watch it and think about how fun a big family would be and then you remember: I have a big family. And then your big family is really great for a few hours.”

“I love having a really great roommate.”

“It’s good to have a big family, because when you go to a museum or a zoo, you get to hear more thoughts about the significance of what you’re seeing.”

“Having a big family makes you more open-minded about other people.”

“In a big family, someone always has your back.”

“Being in a big family makes you feel more confident in who you are – because you are validated by your siblings, young and old.”

“When you go somewhere in public, you feel proud and strong.”

“Being in a big family means cooking for many people and driving large vehicles is not intimidating.”

“It forces you to live more practically and simply.”

“It’s just more fun, because interacting with people beats being entertained by a screen any day.”

“Would you rather live in a small family?” I asked. A small voice answered: “Sometimes I would. But I would still want all my brothers and sisters to be here if I did.”

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. His book What Pope Francis Really Said is now available on Audible. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, Hoopes served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.