Full house: the life of bunk beds, strong bonds

Junior Audrey Crandall and her extended family pose for a family photo. (Photo courtesy of Audrey Crandall)

While some never have to worry about being left behind in a grocery store or at the mall, others have discovered that they are at a higher risk because of the sheer number of children their parents must keep up with.

Being in a large family can come with a variety of benefits but can also have its fair share of challenges.

Junior Audrey Crandall has nine older siblings: five older sisters and four older brothers, two of whom are adopted. She said that being a part of a large family can be hard at times because of how difficult it is to keep up with everyone.

“We have so many family stories where one of us was left behind somewhere,” she said.

She said that on a family trip to Chicago, they went out to dinner and the family ended up leaving her and her sister Harriet behind in the restroom. The sisters had to chase after them in the street after realizing their family had already left.

Despite this, Audrey said being in a large family comes with a huge support system and has provided her with many life skills, making all the challenges worth it.

“Having so many people at home made it so I can deal with a lot of chaos,” she said. “It improved my social skills.”

She added that compared to many of her peers, she can be more social and feels comfortable talking to a wide variety of people.

Junior Caroline Reich has three biological siblings, two step brothers and one half brother. She said that her experience talking with her siblings has made it more natural for her to interact with people who are both older and younger than she is.

In addition, Reich said, having several younger siblings has made her more mature for her age.

“I feel like having many siblings gives me more responsibilities like having to give rides or help with school work,” she said.

Reich said that whether she’s helping out her younger siblings, going to various sporting events or just talking with her family, she’s never bored.

Before many of Audrey’s older siblings moved out, she explained that her house was extremely noisy as a result of the high number of people around and having more things to talk to each other about.

“The house was always loud, but I loved having so many people to talk to and to ask questions to,” Audrey said.

Audrey’s mom, Elizabeth Crandall, said that the lack of time for oneself is one of the biggest disadvantages of having several siblings.

“For some of my more introverted kids, it was sometimes hard to get time alone,” she said. “They were usually four to a room with two sets of bunk beds.”

However, she added that having the kids closer to each other also helped them form strong bonds.

Elizabeth said that she loves how her children can use each other’s experiences to learn and grow.

“My perspective is that they also absorb things from each other and don’t always have to learn things the hard way,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth said that she has always wanted a large family as a result of her love for children.

“The whole process of being a parent has been amazing, and I truly see each of my children as a gift,” Elizabeth said. “Why wouldn’t I want to have lots of gifts?”

Reich said that later in life, she would love to have a large family of her own.

“In my opinion it makes things more fun, and I have enjoyed growing up with my siblings,” she said.

Elizabeth suggested that anyone planning to have a large family must make sure they are prepared for a lot of chaos and a lot of love.

She said that at times parenthood is tough, but hanging in there makes it all worthwhile.

“Parenting has required me to give everything of myself and do it selflessly, but in return I get to have a wonderful relationship with each of my children,” Elizabeth said. “As they grow older, I love to stand back and stare in awe at who they’ve become.”