15 Kids and Counting – Did it Dispell or Enhance The Stereotypes? (With Linky)

Below I’ll be examining the 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.

Tania Sullivian who featured in the first episode knows all too well how the show was edited to show her in a different, more dramatic way. She feels that the show was positive towards large families but is now asking us what we think (you can read it here)

“Most people stop at 2 , a few brave souls go on to have 3 or 4″

For me, a mother of 4, this was already a negative introduction on large families. It straight away says it is not really what should be done.

*Please note these are not my opinions just what I think the public’s opinions may be*

What do I think are the Stereotypes of Large Families

  • On benefits
  • In social housing/council property
  • Different fathers of the children
  • Mother is “unable to keep her legs closed”
  • Teen mothers
  • Unplanned children
  • Unmarried
  • Unable to look after them all – get older children to help with other kids, housework
  • Unable to give them enough time each
  • Lack of Privacy
  • Untidy house
  • Children will go on to be on benefits, have lots of children.
  • Expensive
  • Draining on the environment
  • From deprived areas
  • Unruly children
  • Children going without
  • Wrong reasons for having children
  • No time for the couple
  • No provision made for the children if something happens to both parents.
Do I think the show Dispelled or Enhanced these Stereotypes?
Benefits, benefits, benefits. It’s the buzz word all the time isn’t it. Even my own post on deciding on how many children to have has a comment about “not expecting the state to pay for them” People don’t seem to mind working parents of 2 children receiving child benefit but I think that anything after that people just look down their noses. During the show I saw no mention of Child Tax Credit as if this is not classed as “benefits” but other than that it was all about how they managed whilst working – which was very positive.  But then the final episode shows that things can change and that they may end up having to rely on benefits (and in this case it seems they “couldn’t afford” their children once he had become injured). This woman is then portrayed as wanting to find another man to have another child with, plus of course that her own children are having babies as teens, and going on benefits.
In certain circumstances there is no shame in being on benefits, and that people shouldn’t be judged just because they need some help. That I’d actually prefer someone to take benefits than them/their children go without basic things.
I don’t really think that it was said when the couples did own their own homes. However, it was shown that one family were given a bigger house because there were too many of them. Now a couple of things here – I think it was positive that this family were seen to be getting the bigger house because these children weren’t all their own – it’s not like they just kept having children to be given a bigger property; but I don’t think the show really did justice to just how hard and how long they must have waited for that house.
It was nice to see that the couples were either married (or common-law) – as it showed them to be stable and not lots of fathers etc – but I feel they mentioned where they lived over “they have been married 25 years” Personally the wedding that was shown just highlighted to me how  families are judged and it seemed that they were getting married for that reason – and that it shouldn’t matter.
I don’t think it was shown how the families managed – but it was shown that other children helped out. I think if there were another show maybe they could make the comparisons between a family with 2 children and how they do it/cope and a large family. I could imagine that some families of 12+ could get all their children into bed and asleep earlier than some families of only 2 children.
I think the children were very well behaved – but just those few quick clips – a missing child on the beach, trying to get them to sleep on the tent holiday – will be enough to enhance the stereotypes in the small minded few.
I think the couples were shown to have “keep having children” for the wrong reasons – and it was like they couldn’t stop rather than choosing not to stop yet.
There need to be more on how they cope as a couple – as one broke up (Jo Watson) and another said they hadn’t been out in 4 years.
We didn’t hear what the children felt apart from a few negative comments about getting no peace – maybe a series on the children – their point of view – the highs and the lows.
I think I could go on and on – but then there’d be nothing else for anyone else to say.
So what do you think?
Did it make you think about better or worse about large families?

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