Below I’ll be examining TV Show 15kidsandcounting Shown on Channel 4 January 2012 9pm, all quotes mentioned below are as mentioned in the series on Channel 4 should you wish to watch this yourself. All non specific opinions given are my own.
Last night was the start of Channel 4s 3 Part Series 15 Kids and Counting about some of the UKs biggest families (missed it catch up here).
Some people know when they’ve had enough children, some make the decision to stop, and others just keep on having them until nature decides otherwise.
The title of the show is about Sue and Noel Radford, from Lancashire, who are expecting their 15th baby and already talking about their next child. With her children saying that having children is Sue’s drug – she’s just addicted! Both the parents were adopted at birth and Sue was 14 when they had their first child. With an obsession for posh prams – the programme claims she has a new £500 odd pram every year. Then the family are shown to go on holiday to Lanzarote with them saying it was more a problem for the woman at passport control than it was for them. They are then shown on the beach, unable to relax – for they keep counting their children and they do, inevitably, lose one. One of the children tried to name all her siblings and forgot one! Then of course there was the mentioning of how relieved the parents were once the children were at school, the huge shopping bills and the fact that one of the children couldn’t fit around the dinner table.
The fact that he worked didn’t really do much to counteract the questions inevitably coming from the shows viewers with a smaller family and “unable to afford” such holidays and the fact that Sue came in to help (at the bakery where he works) whilst pregnant and exhausted – really just reflected the fact that they weren’t all that flush with money. They claimed that they never stopped and were very tired at the end of the day – which leads me to question – how did they have the time and energy to produce the next baby? Did they not want a bit more time and energy – and actually have a break? There is no mention of whether they are in social housing (as might be assumed as they were so young when they had their first) and if not how they have managed to afford where they live? They could have highlighted more how well the children have “turned out” – giving a better image of teen parents.
Tania and Mike Sullivan, from Kent, came across much more as we are having this many children because we want to and why not. That they were love from God. That is was her Strict Catholic religion (which is not true, see here) that meant she wouldn’t use contraception or abort. The aged old “haven’t you got a television” was underlying mentioned with the comment that they didn’t really believe in television. She home educated them but it was portrayed that she just “taught them what she knew or googled the rest”. That she keeps them home to protect them from the influences she cannot control outside the home, until they are old enough to deal with them. She didn’t like the idea of sex education so young. That she has her work cut out trying to balance the education for such a wide age gap – the programme (wrongly) stated between her oldest 13 (actually 11) and 4 year old. Tania was showed as being high-risk (having had 8 miscarriages and 4 c-sections) and had to go into hospital – all very dramatic. I was actually following her on twitter (@largerfamily) when she went in and although I hoped her and the twins well I at no point got the impression anyone was “at risk” Tania has her own website where you can get helpful information – such as why she thinks it’s important that the children help with the chores, and has written books.
I think the show didn’t really do large families justice. I feel more could have been done to show them in a positive light. I mean the fact that they did manage to organise things (such as the holiday)- I bet a lot of families could benefit from this knowledge. How do they plan and budget their shopping bill? Online? Do they have any money saving tips to share? Tania says in her blog post about the show that she did film more information about home schooling but it was just not shown.
What about the other aspects – did they breastfeed? Do the children sleep okay at night? How many have to share a room. What time do they get up in the morning? How do they spend quality time with each of the children? And do they spend quality time with each other? How do they cope with the ironing? It was mentioned that every mealtime is like a smaller family’s Christmas dinner – so what is Christmas like in their houses? How do they manage to go to school productions/parents evenings, etc? How do they cope with taking them all to medical appointments – doctors, dentists etc? Long journeys?
How has this all impacted on their relationship with each other? Do they argue about the housework/finances etc any more than a smaller family would, or any less as it’s more organised?
In either family we really didn’t get to know about any of the children. Are any bedwetters? Have bad teeth? Bad eyes (need glasses/have squints)? Disabilities? Crooked legs? Or any other issue that may need time/help/advice/trips to hospitals. How do they get on with each other? Are any more difficult to manage than others? Have their children started drinking alcohol? How do they make things fair? Do they ever leave the younger children at home alone with the older ones?
Can’t wait for the rest of the series next episode Tuesday 9pm channel 4.