The squabbles are endless, and often intense, but at the end of the day (literally) everyone has to get on with one another, because they have to share the television remote control. As such, I've always believed that large families are not just a selfish pleasure but beneficial for the country, even the world - but, until now, I've been short of ammunition for arguing my case.
I'm grateful, therefore, to Sky News presenter Colin Brazier, who has spent the past five years assembling evidence that supports the idea that larger families are A Good Thing. "We are so often told about the disadvantages of large families that we have lost sight of the hidden advantages," he says.
His mission began one day at the start of the Iraq war when, while embedded with the United States army, he heard a radio report claiming that the cost of bringing up a child had risen to £180,000.
At the time he didn't have the five children that he has now, but he was already aware that it was bunkum to suggest that it costs as much as the price of a family house to raise each child. By sharing bedrooms, baths and toys, he could see that each additional child in a large family worked out cheaper to raise than a child in a small family.
Nor did he feel it was fair to calculate that each child adds an additional 750 tons of carbon dioxide to the environment. "What about economies of scale?" he thought.
"A four-person household uses half as much electricity, per capita, as a home for one. The people who are messing up the planet are the single people living alone in swanky apartments. Someone needs to rebut these nonsensical stories."
Since then he has not just gathered arguments for the defence, he has gone on the attack. Having condensed his research into an article for the think tank Civitas, he may need to don his flak jacket again, because the anti-natalists who advocate the benefits of a small family may not like what he has to say.
Nor may the Government. In France, parents with three or more children are given medals for their procreative valour. In Britain, we are penalised by higher taxes on people carriers and will soon have to pay through the nose for rubbish collections and water use.
Private schools don't offer discounts for bulk buying, while state schools are abandoning sibling policies, so parents can't assume that they won't have to hurtle around to several schools each morning.
The result of such measures, combined with the constant scare stories about the cost of children, is that 90,000 people have fallen into a baby gap: they would like to have more children but don't dare because they can't afford a larger house or bigger car.
With the British birthrate currently standing at 1.7 per woman - well below replacement level - Brazier argues that there's no need for such restraint. It doesn't matter if you can't afford a large house.
Children who share bedrooms are physically healthier than those who don't, because their immune systems are toughened up by catching minor illnesses from one another in their early years. If they are a bit cramped and have to endure being told they can't always have the new trainers or toy they want, that's good for them.
Having several siblings is also a pointer to future mental health. Scions of large families stand a good chance of making a success of their marriages, because they are used to sharing.
There is also safety in numbers from the pressure of ambitious, fussing parents whose tendency to hover like helicopters over their children's heads contributes, according to a recent Unicef survey, to British children being the most miserable in the developed world.
I'm as keen as the next mother for my children to be world-beaters, but with several children to compare I'm more realistic about their talents and don't have either the time or the resources to apply the mental thumbscrews. Mostly, I'm happy to settle for the children being whoever they happen to be, so long as they help with the washing-up.
Chores are an issue in larger families. The very rich can employ armies of cleaners to pick up after their broods, but the rest of us rely on the children to look after themselves. With a little benign neglect they are forced to learn to clean, cook, fix things for themselves and babysit one another. They may grumble, but these are more useful life skills than playing the violin.
Not that children from large families underperform educationally, as used to be thought.
The theory was that parents with lots of children stop reading to them and park them in front of the television, but a survey of 22,000 French school-leavers found that academic performance improved with additional siblings so long as one parent was "an educated professional". Knowledge and studious habits trickle down the family.
Younger children get less parental help with their homework, but their older siblings act as teachers and the younger ones learn to work on their own. It would be nice if it were so. Children from large families are also less likely to be members of the awkward squad at school: having had their rough edges worn down by sibling squabbles, they tend to be co-operative in the classroom.
One non-economic, non-ecological reason why parents limit themselves to small families these days is that they like the idea of having the time to be best friends with their mini-mes. In large families relationships between siblings become more important than those with their parents, who are too busy keeping the show on the road to go on endless one-to-one shopping or football trips.
This, too, brings bonuses: not only do children in large families have more siblings among whom to find soul-mates but there is always someone to give advice or act as whistle-blower if they are doing something dodgy.
Taking the emphasis off the parent/child relationship also means that twentysomethings from big families are less likely to join the growing hordes who live at home, behaving like ''kidults" well past the age when they should be taking responsibility for themselves.
They are also better at being parents themselves - and less likely to need Supernanny's advice - because they have more experience of seeing how it's done.
What's missing in this country, Brazier concludes, is a lobby to uphold the manifold benefits and interests of the large families. If he wants to start one, he can count me in. Why size really matters
• Children from larger families get into fewer fights, and are better at making and keeping friends.
• Through having siblings, children learn empathy, team playing, gratification deferment, time-management and how to resolve disputes.
• Children with several siblings have lower rates of asthma, eczema and hay fever. They make fewer visits to the doctor and have a reduced risk of leukaemia, cancer and diabetes.
• Older siblings prevent younger ones being bullied.
• In larger families play is less closely supervised. Children learn to take risks, which will make them better employees and employers.
• Children in large families learn to cook, use the washing machine and to iron.
• In larger families there is more emphasis on thrift.
• Those who grow up with siblings are better at getting on with the opposite sex and have fewer divorces.
• Developers are building so few larger homes that a third bedroom can add a fifth to the price of a house, and a fourth two thirds.
• Since 1988 the tax and benefits system has left larger families living on average incomes worse off.
• Converting a loft or basement means higher council tax bills.
• Family tickets for many attractions are limited to two children.
• Car tax on larger cars may soon be followed by dearer parking.
• Many swimming pools allow an adult to supervise only two children.
• In Australia there are proposals for a carbon tax on parents with more than two children.
Hi, first, thank you for your time reading this. Here is an essay I wrote for practice. Hope you can help me proofread it and give me some suggestions on how to make it better.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of growing up in a large, extended family and in a small family? Compare and give reasons.
Parents always want to make the best decisions for their children. The most essential decision they have to make is the size of their family. Parents have to consider whether it is better for their children to grow up in a large family or to grow up in a small family. Still, I believe there is no best family size. A large family and a small family both have their own advantages and disadvantages in the aspects of family’s finance and child companionship.
A family financial condition is tightly related to the size of the family. The living cost for a large is surely much higher than the living cost for a small family. As the result, children in a large family would have less financial supports from their parents.
In contrast, in a small family, parents can give more resources to their children. For instance, their children can receive better education, or have more opportunities to develop some costly interests, such as piano. My friend, Dave, is the only child in their family. Their parents always support him to do whatever the things he wishes to do, such as traveling aboard and developing his interest in music. On the other hand, I, growing up in a large family, do not have as many chances to do things I want as Dave do. From this example, I believe children in a small family can receive more supports from their parents than children in a large family can receive.
Although children in the large family might not receive much supports from their parents, they have more companies to talk to and to play with. That is definitely a great advantage for children in a large family. They will not feel lonely at home because their brothers or sister are always their best companies throughout their lives. On the other hand, if a family only has a single child, the child would often feel lonely, and feel eager to have a brother or a sister. Luck enough, I have a brother and a sister, and I never feel lonely at home. They are always the best friend to talk to and to share my feeling with. Children would definite benefit a lot from having more companies at home, and it is an advantage a small family doe not have.
After all, there is not really an answer for the best family size because both large and small family have their own advantages and disadvantages. Children in a small family can receive more supports than children in a large family. However, children in a large family can have more companies at home than children in a small family can have. Because the size of a family could affect children greatly, the parents should think carefully before they decide how many children they are going to have.
Thank you so much again!