Monday 24 July 2017

Are Small Families Better?

I remember growing up the oldest of five, how much I yearned for a bedroom of my own.  I used to wonder what it would be like to be an only child and not have to share, then immediately feel guilty because I knew I would not want to wish any of my siblings away.

The other day, mum-in-law was encouraging me to delegate more chores to the children, saying I do too much for everyone and must be careful or I would be old before my time.  I agreed that with hubby away in Pakistan, working and managing a busy household was starting to take its toll.  I haven’t had a holiday for some time and unlike my five sisters-in-law in Pakistan I had never gone to stay with my parents for a break (they only live five minutes away, so I suspect my family would just follow me there).

Little Lady piped up that this was why small families were better.  For some reason this got me really cross.  I told her off a little and reminded her that it was not the size of the family but the character of the people in it and the quality of your relationships that determined what was better and that we should be grateful for our family.

I knew at the time why I had gotten annoyed.  A large family seems to imply carelessness.  That we decided to have lots of children and now can’t manage. Or that we are too stupid to understand the concept of family planning.  Comments about large families can feel like a personal attack whether they are intended that way or not.  There is the implication of being careless, ignorant or backward.  There are those who point out the greater use of resources and the difficulty and cost of raising one child let alone many.

I committed to the belief a long time ago that when Allah (SWT) decrees something it will happen even if you and the whole world are against it and if Allah does not will something, there is nothing that you or the whole of His creation can do to make it happen.  Every life has an allotted time to come into this world and an allotted span.  It is written and fixed and nothing to do with what we want but is what Allah (SWT) has decreed.

I was never that interested in babies.  I read Psychology at university and attended every class religiously except the Child Psychology module which I had no interest in and bunked off of.  I didn’t have Little Lady until three years into my marriage as I wanted to enjoy life with my husband and my first taste of freedom after the restrictions of my parents’ house.  But with each baby that came into my life, I was proud and grateful.  With each new baby we made space in our home, our heart, our family and in our vision for the future.

I remember when I found out I was expecting number five.  I had just spent the first week of that year making big plans for my life and at the end of that first week, I found out that I was pregnant.  I cried out of fear of the sickness and difficulty I knew I had to look forward to nine months of misery, but the timing also felt like a massive reminder that:

“They plan, and Allah plans. Surely, Allah is the Best of planners.” ~ Quran (8:30)

Now after four children that take after their dad’s family, I have a fifth who looks like me, has my energy and some of my nature (my short sharp temper and my interest in everything) and who is my beloved little doll,

With each child we did not worry about money, as a Muslim I believe that every child brings it’s own rizq (sustenance) with it into this worls and we trust in the abundance of Allah (SWT)’s blessings.  As Muslim’s we don’t necessarily ask for more, but for what we have to be blessed and sufficient, this is the concept of “barakah”.  We could have more and it might still not be enough to meet our needs.

My mum-in-law has six sons, they squabble, fall out and have each other’s back when needed, but the thing I admire, is how much they respect their parents and how all of them understand their duty to care for their elderly parents.  I know families who doted on their children, but now either complain their child does not bother with them or put on a brave face and carry on alone telling people that their children come whenever they can.  The number of children does not seem to be a deciding factor, but the sense of responsibility and duty does.

People complain that large families use up an unfair share of resources on an already overpopulated planet.  I believe that every one of us has an amount of resource or wealth written for us when we are born and we receive it whether we run after it, or it chases after us.  As one of five siblings and married to one of eight, I have seen my mum and mother-in-law take great care not to be wasteful.  My mum-in-law can re-use, upcycle and stretch a resource like no one else I have seen.  Take a men’s jumper and make a boys tracksuit? Take leftovers and make a whole new meal?  Take a something broken and repair it or use it for a different purpose?  Mum-in-law is a complete expert, if it was up to her, next to nothing would get thrown away and every penny would be well spent on a necessity.

As a child, four siblings felt like a lot, as an adult, I am grateful for my siblings, for the help and support we give each other and my parents and I pray for a future with them all in it for a long time insh’Allah.

So is a smaller family better?  I believe that it is not the size of the family, but how well-raised it is that matters.  It is not the amount of material resources you have, but how effectively you instil faith and good character into your family.  When all five of mine decide to start fighting or are stuck inside in rainy weather going crazy then five is a large number.  When they are all at school or asleep and hubby is away and the house has been quite for a few hours, even five becomes a very small number.


  1. I LOVE THIS! I live in a state where large families are the norm. I have five sons, and my family is considered "average" sized. Here the comments are generally directed more at families with few children or none at all. I grew up not actually wanting children, but like you, I have felt blessed and proud as each one entered our family. I may grumble about them being difficult and loud, but I dread the day there is no longer noise. My boys fight, but I hope that they will defend each other if required.

    1. Good to hear from you Elizabeth,
      You have every reason to be proud of your boys and proud of yourself for raising them - no easy task to bring up 5 boys.

  2. Anonymous25 July, 2017


    Just found out in expecting after almost 10 years and as excited as i am... i was also very worried and anxious. This post has heled me put things in persepective. Request duas.

    1. Walaikam-assalam,
      May Allah (SWT) make your pregnancy easy and bless you with a healthy baby insh'Allah. I remember how worried I was when I found out I was pregnant, I hope you have a serene and easy pregnancy insh'Allah.
      Remember me in your dua's too

    2. Anonymous25 July, 2017


      Jzk Khair.This is my first baby and first pregnancy so im still partly in shock ( because i had accepted that i would probably never have kids and was content with that so this came as a shock) and also trying to educate myself and not focus too much on the difficulties ahead. Trying make shukr for this blessing from ALLAH and make this a positive experience Inshaa'ALLAH. Need lots duas.


  3. Yeah! but raising kids is a difficult job when you don't have supporting inlaws and you have a lot of responsibilities.

    1. Salam Mahwesh, I agree, raising children is no easy task in any circumstances. I try to help my parents and I care for my disables mum-in-law as well as work and community commitments, so it is a lot of work all round

  4. Love your blog. Keep up the good work. Having just started my small family, I benefit a lot from advice and experiences you post on your site. I read all your posts and look forward to new ones :) more recipes would be great x

    1. Salam Sis,
      I'm grateful that you stop by to read. I'll try and take pics when I cook to add recipes, or better still, ask my sister-in-law for recipes - she's a fab cook alhamdulillah xxx

  5. Anonymous26 July, 2017

    Salam aleykoum,
    Thanks for sharing this nice post, honest as always, and which sounds like a love declaration to your family. They are blessed to have you as a mum, a spouse, a daughter MachaAllah.
    I completely agree when you stated it is not the size of the family which is important, but the relationships, the faith, the commitment to well raise your children.
    I'll try to keep that in mind machaAllah: I have two daughters and I would have like a bigger family, but I don't feel that I can handle it...

  6. Such a good post from you sister. This is an eye opener and make us realised the importance of good upbringing for our children

  7. Anonymous26 July, 2017

    Assalam Alaykoum dear Sister,

    Very beneficial post as usual, and it came just in time for me but because family planning is on my mind these days.
    To be honest I have 2 boys and would love to have a big family, with daughters and plenty of grankids in future but at the moment I feel the 3 are enough to manage and yes,to raise them as well as I can. I dont have any family around to help me out so I feel this is the sensible choice at the moment. On the other hand I know what Allah plans for us is unavoidable and He is indeed the best of planners.
    But I would welcome a post,guest post, or comments as well about contraception experiences, because I am planning to use it. Not decided about the form yet, dont really like hormones but they are the reliable I guess. Please Sisters, dont be shy about this as our beloved Prophet saw. also recommend for the women what was available that time, to interrupt the intercourse. So it is definitely not haram and not something to shy about between us ladies, Inshallah.

  8. Anonymous27 July, 2017

    Whether you "believe" it or not, large families in developed nations use up a massive share of resources in an already overpopulated planet. Do your kids eat? Drink? Have clothes? Congrats, you've used up two-and-a-half times as many resources as a family with one kid.
    There is nothing admirable about having a large family. On the contrary it shows lack of care, and tbh why complain about being so tired and having so many chores to do when you chose 5 kids? You are an educated and articulate woman and you knew what you were doing.
    I find the "it was Allah's will" argument ridiculous as well tbh, again, that's just not the way works.

    1. Anonymous27 July, 2017

      Is that a joke? Hidden by a computer, you feel allowed to be disrespectful and mean to a person which is honestly sharing her point of view and talking about her children? I am sad tout read that.

    2. Anonymous27 July, 2017

      This comment is disgusting and if you are a muslim you had better make tawbah and renew your faith because it sounds like you have serious problems.

    3. Each child is a gift & blessing from Allah (swt), being my neices & nephews, i have the pleasure of knowing each of these 5 children and Masha'Allah each has their own gift to this world. I found your comment in poor taste, hidden behind a computer. Please don't comment such narrow minded views, if you don't like what you're reading then unfollow and move on. Do not get personal.

    4. On a further note, I am one of 8 and proud of it! My father provided for us all, educated us, spoiled us with love and gifts. Not a drain on society but I believe we contribute hugely. My neices and nephews will also be doing the same InShaAllah

    5. A Christian missionary jealous of how big the nation of Muhammed [p] is.