May 5, 2009

As Our Mothers?

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofkids @ 6:16 pm

I was featured recently in an article in the Brazilian magazine IstoE Magazine. We did submit a photo, but it was not used. Here is a link to the article. I also have a translated version below. Note: I have to apologize since I don’t know Portugeuse and I don’t know anyone else who does. The translation was done using “Google Translate” and it is choppy in parts (if anyone would be willing to re-translate this for me, please let me know). Still, even with the sub-par translation, I still think you can get the gist. I have some commentary below.


As Our Mothers

Contrary to the statistics, some women have one child after another and are held with the house full.

Life in the house of Claudia Junqueira is lively and loud. At the time of eating, sleeping, doing duty at home or play, the excitement is guaranteed with four children. A “escadinha” composed by Arthur, 3 years, Clara, 7, Chloe, 10, and Max, 12, is sometimes encourged by school mates, to join the mess. “My four children were wanted and loved,” says the manager of 37 years. The family of Claudia contramão is in the statistics. While Brazil has fewer children, it is part of a minority who chose to have the house full.

Large families were the norm in a relatively close past. In the 70’s, the fertility rate was 5.7 children per woman. In 2000, dropped to 2.3 children, and among those with eight or more years of study, 1.6 children. According to the latest data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the numbers shrunk even more: 1.9 children per mother.

What motivates then some families to go against this trend? To Claudia and her husband, who come from homes full of brothers, is a natural choice. “Since I wanted a girl huge family,” explains Claudia. “The friends of my children love coming here because it is a house designed for children.” Businesswoman, it gives me a flexible schedule to monitor closely and dispensed small nanny and daycare.

For Marina Vasconcellos, couples and family therapist from the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), is essential to have financial planning and time when you decide to have a large offspring. “Having many children is a party, but they demand attention,” he says. The therapist says that, despite requiring dedication, children created with several siblings tend to develop with greater autonomy. From the biological point of view, the body of the woman with the winning maternity leaves.

Pregnancy reduces the risk of problems such as endometriosis, cancer of the breast and uterus. “In this sense, the more a pregnant woman, the better,” says gynecologist Nilce Donadio.

It is essential to have financial planning and time to dedicate when you decide to have a large offspring. The scriptwriter and writer Maria Mariana, 36 years, spent the last ten years alternating breastfeeding with pregnancy. Known by the book Confessions of Teenager, who became part of TV series and it is launching the book Confessions of a Mother, with the reflections during the pregnancies of cobbled Clara, 9 years, Laura, 7, Gabriel, 5, and Isabel, 2. “I always wanted to many, but I want one after the other,” says Mariana, who finds it easier to create more children than one. “They learn together.” After almost ten years living in the light of the children, she returns to work as a writer of Rede Record and says that getting out, despite the criticism. “I thought I was depressed, and had been abandoned,” says Mariana.

In countries with lower birth rates, having numerous offsprings, at least, looks suspicious. Michelle Lehmann, 38 years, secretary for a law firm in Chicago, is the mother of eight, aged between 13 and 2 years, and created the online community to help parents with many children to share experiences. “People think you’re irresponsible, or ignorant religious fanatic to have a larger family,” says Michelle. Slanting eyes are common when the Lehmanns leave the house.

CONFESSION OF MOTHER Maria Mariana was criticized by the break of ten years, which prioritized the children. From the fourth pregnancy, the secretary came to be treated differently. “I support the right of not having children or having small families,” says the secretary. “I only wish that I and my husband were more respected because we believe be wonderful to have more children.”

Besides the bias, these parents face the specter of not giving enough attention to all. “My children are very different, but I do a considerable effort to devote time to each of them,” says Michelle. Professor, Department of Psychology and Philosophy of Education, University of São Paulo (USP) Silvia Colella stated that the issue of attention is never resolved in conference. “Parents have to be critical,” teaches. “What you learn with a child not to apply to serve another.” It is this tireless dedication that makes true the saying: “In the heart mother, it is always one more.”


While it’s not surprising, it is interesting to read about the challenges and negativity that large families get in other areas of the world. One thing in particular I found quite compelling is the birth statistics. Just as recently as the 70s, for Brazillian women there was a birth rate of nearly 5.7 children per woman. In just 40 years that has dropped to 1.9! I mean, even in the U.S. we saw the birth rates start decreasing in the 50s and 60s, and there was not nearly as steep of a drop.

Another thing I found particularly interesting in the article was this information:

Pregnancy reduces the risk of problems such as endometriosis, cancer of the breast and uterus. “In this sense, the more a pregnant woman, the better,” says gynecologist Nilce Donadio.

In a nutshell, multiple pregnancies can have positive benefits to a woman. This is an argument that many woman have used, but is widely dismissed by U.S. professionals as being anecdotal or unproven. Or, on the flipside, that the risks outweigh any possible benefits. So, who do you believe? Problem is, our country is very focused on the idea that women should be career-oriented and “responsible” in their child-rearing. It wouldn’t seem to fit in with that mentality to promote the benefits of having more than 1-2 children.

So, what are your thoughts? If you are reading from outside the U.S., how supportive are those around you of large families? We’d love to hear you weigh-in.

*** Cross-posted on the 4 or More blog. ***



  1. Hi
    I’m from Australia, have seven children and #8 due in August. The attitudes here are so contadictory. On the one hand society in general says that to have more than 3 you are irresponsible, ruining the planet, immoral, definitely uneducated and unable to get a REAL job OR they are children of convenience and you are having them “for the money” – hence the contradiction – We have a pro-family welfare system and at present there is a $5000 baby-bonus that you are paid from the Government when you have a baby in an effort to increase our population! There is also now as of this year a paid maternity scheme starting.
    It is very frustrating. No-one is supportive of ‘large families’ and most tend to roll their eyes or respond with the myriad of negative and judgemental comments that I’m sure you’ve all heard. It seems that you are only ‘allowed’ to have 2 children and the baby bonus was created so you might be tempted to have one more ‘for the country’ BUT you are also expected to dump the children in the nearest child care centre 50hours a week (hence boosting employment) and return to the workforce full time so that you are actually ‘contributing’ to society.
    The stigma associated with more than 3 children is ridiculous. As for religion, well that argument doesnt seem to fair well here at all. Yes having children are a blessing from God but apparently so is contraception once you have your standard 3 kids. My eldest has started at the local Catholic Highschool this year and they are just as judgemental as everyone else (Go figure?)
    Besides my children are the future doctors, teachers, lawyers, nurses, chefs, etc – so whose taxes do they all think will be paying their way when they are old?

    Comment by Leara — May 22, 2009 @ 3:32 am

  2. i am a black woman who is blessed enough to have 11 kids the first i had at 14 the next 10 are by my husband if almost 20 years . i am 35 and have no multiples and i have been called an irresponsible animal and a dog that needed to be culled by some. i was told by one guy me and all my little niggletts should be taken to the woods and shot. it is so nice to see a site that is like yours keep up the good work people like you give me hope!!

    Comment by Demetria Fuller — August 16, 2011 @ 3:46 am

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