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5 things to never say to a large family and 5 alternatives

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. I MAY EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES.

We did it! We flew across the country from Atlanta to Los Angeles to go to Disneyland with 4 kids (ages 7, 5, 2 and 3 months). No, we aren’t crazy. Yes, we lived to tell about it!

I’d go so far as to say we had a great time, too. Making memories!

Disneyland with 4 kids

We got some fun and interesting comments along the way. From the airport shuttle to the airport to the train in the airport to the airplane to the car service to Disneyland (I think you get the idea!) everybody had something to say.

{We’ve been down a similar path before, but I thought a refresher would be good. You might think it’s cute, but it’s not.}

Some of our favorites:

1. “I don’t know how you do it.” This. Now. This is how we do it. It’s not necessarily glamorous or easy, but it works. Double and single stroller and two baby carriers = happy kids 99% of the time.

instead try: “You guys are rocking it!” “You are amazing!”

Disneyland with 4 kids

2. “I feel sorry for you.” Um, why? There were only a couple 2 year old meltdowns, but I think we did quite well.

how about: “You all are so very blessed!”

3. “Four girls. Wow. Your poor husband.”

Lucky, people. He’s lucky! He got to spend the day with the oldest three at Disneyland!

see also: “Lucky!” (In your best Napoleon Dynamite voice!)

Disneyland with 4 kids

4. “You certainly have your hands full.” (Now, let me shove past you to get off the airplane while you try to keep your two year old in her seat for even longer).

Ugh. Seriously. What mom doesn’t have her hands full? One kid, two kid, ten kids. Parents are occupied being parents!

again: “Your children are amazing!” “Wow, they behaved so well [on the plane/ at the airport/ on the shuttle/ in the restaurant].”

Disneyland with 4 kids

5. “You know what causes that, right?”

Are you kidding me? First of all, you just referred to my child/children as a “that”. And, seriously? I’m not asking one single person for a handout, so why don’t you go take your judging and look inward.

For the record, yes, we know exactly what “causes” these beautiful babies. Kissing.

Instead: “Your kids are so cute.” Thank you. I love you.

Disneyland with 4 kids

Or the real option. Say nothing. Yep, just like your mom said, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!

I know that not all of these comments were ill-intended, but it’s just a little reminder to think before you speak. I shouldn’t have to explain to my fabulous girls why people think there should be a boy in the mix or that I’m overwhelmed because of them! We love our girls. You don’t have to like kids (but, remember you were one unless you know something I don’t), or like big families, but that gives nobody the right to criticize ours!

5 things to never say

Disney provided discounted accommodations and park tickets and also provided the most magical experiences and perks. The DSMM sponsors provided product and helped make the magic happen. All opinions magical or otherwise are my own. We paid for our airfare, too, like instead of new windows. Sorry old house, you’ll be drafty longer!


THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. I MAY EARN FROM QUALIFYING PURCHASES.

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80 Comments

  1. My dad’s cousin has 9 kids! I am in awe of her ability to organize life with that many kids. Maybe people say those thing instead of saying, “Man- that family really has it all together!”

    1. That would be a good one, too! I think that you do what you have to do…and the kids pitch in more. And, well, they just know what’s expected of them too. Maybe? I’ll have to ask them one day!

  2. I’m on the other side of the spectrum with people constantly reminding me to reproduce.
    How about:
    “Cuteness overload!”
    “What great big sisters you have to help you!”
    or
    “I wish your freckle faced cuties lived closer to use for playdates!”
    That’s what I think when I see your girls.

    1. I love that people think they always know what is going on.

      And, yes, totally love those responses, too!

  3. I love this, and I’m laughing so hard at “kissing causes babies”. Hubs ACTUALLY thought that when he was a kid! 🙂 You are amazing parents. I want to nom and kiss all your beautiful babies.

  4. People seem to make dumb comments about anything these days. It’s so weird to me – why is there a need to comment at all? We have the comments about Am’s glasses ALL THE TIME. I just don’t get it. By the way? Your girls are so cute! And sweet! And boy are you and husband lucky. Gorgeous family.

    1. I really don’t know…it’s like we feel like we HAVE to say something.

      Thank you:)

  5. this is a great post – yes sometimes people should check their inner monologue before they speak

  6. YES. All day, every day. I can not tell you the number of times people have said the same things (or similar things) to me. Hundreds probably.

    You just keep doing what you’re doing-raising 4 adorable and lovely little girls.

    1. Thank you!

      And, I wonder if we should charge people?

      “Excuse me, sir, but you see this list here? Saying something about them being all girls will cost you $0.50! Thank you for the donation to our college fund!”

  7. You guys looked like you had such a fun time! I’ve only been to DisneyWorld rather than the California parks. I’m very curious to go!

    Kindness is the best accessory,
    Rebecca

  8. I’m always amazed by what people think is OK to say to a mama. I’m pretty sure any mom would appreciate hearing “you are doing such an awesome job” or “your kids are beautiful” and would appreciate those with any other comments just to keep on walking by.

  9. People really need to sort of MYOB about family size and reproductive choices in general. You just never know. I had a lovely and well meaning family member ask when we were having a second, little knowing that I was just recovering from a 2nd miscarriage in our attempt to do just that. She would never have intentionally hurt me, but it took all my strength to smile and say “we’ll see” when what I really wanted to do was weep … Again.

    1. I’m very sorry for your losses (I say that knowing that there are no words that make it any easier/better/softer). I have had one, too and while it was later in the pregnancy and most people knew about it, there were still very awkward questions and people in our business. And, yeah, people say even worse things after a miscarriage in my opinion.

      Yes, a total MYOB approach to all of it is great because it’s really the best way to not come across as a jerk!

      Thinking of you.

      1. Thank you, Krystyn. 🙂 I should say that after a 3rd loss I am now happily 16 weeks along with #2! My hubby is convinced it’s a girl – I think he secretly relishes being outnumbered!
        I remember when you had your loss and was so pleased for you when the next came along. The joy ofthe “rainbow” pregnancy goesa longway towards healing the losses, I think. I enjoy seeing you and your husband revel in your beautiful sweet gaggle of girls. I think anyone who asks how you manage or comments rudely just isn’t looking very hard!

        1. Congratulations! I’m so very happy to hear that!

          Confession. When we decided to go for #4, my husband hoped she was a girl:) He said he doesn’t know what to do with boys anyways!

          A rainbow baby definitely does help with part of the healing process.

          Thank you for your sweet words.

  10. The next time you hear #1, consider it a compliment. I know I am guilty of this one, and that is the intention. I say it because I am jealous. Most days I don’t feel I am a good enough Mom to raise my two kids. Therefore I am in awe of anyone I see with more than two kids that is amazing and rocking it.

  11. Elizabeth M says:

    your family is beautiful!!! as one of 5 girls, i always heard my dad was really patient. I don’t know if that was an insult or a compliment but he sure is blessed and awesome. My mom is too!! Big families ROCK!!

  12. What a true post! I can’t believe some comments that people make these days :/

  13. “You know what causes that?” I don’t even know what that is? BUT HOW RUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. I don’t get what comes out of a lot of people’s mouths these days! Your four girls are wonderful – the more kids, the more love there is to go around!!

  15. We often get the same comments, just insert 5 girls instead of 4. Though thankfully, we’ve never received the last, because I would not be kind in return. We have noticed a recent surge in compliments, so maybe manners are making a comeback! By the way, you have a beautiful family!

  16. So nice to meet you! I “love” how my parents spelled my name too… (just ask me what my real first name is!)
    I have 4 kids too, 2 boys and twin girls, and my favorite is: So you’re done now, right? And while I can say yes, yes we are, still, whose business is that??? 😛
    Keep on keeping on!

  17. I’m a huge fan of this post. People always think they can say what they want. I don’t know what happened to think before you speak. I for one think your family is beautiful.

  18. We went on vacation last week to see my cousin and her family in Canda, she has 7. Its’ amazing how they make it work so well. I didn’t hear anything like this while we were out and about with them but I am SURE she’s heard it ALL before!!

    The funny thing is, when we are together, we have 10 altogether and there have a been a few times that we have been with our kids and only one of our husbands. Since our kids resemble each other in features we figure people think we are sister-wives. It’s hilarious!!

    Anyway, I love how you offered positive things that people SHOULD say. Great insight, my friend!

  19. Heh, heh, heh.
    I did a post similar to this a while back. I think the comment that I get most often (especially when they were much smaller) that makes me the angriest is, “You’re crazy!”
    SERIOUSLY???
    You see 4 well behaved children and that is the first thought that pops into your head? And then you let it out of your mouth???? WHAT THE???? You do know that MY CHILDREN CAN HEAR YOU!?!?!?!
    Some people are just so clueless.

    I can definitely relate to this post.

    1. My favorite line was when my pharmacist asked me if this was my first pregnancy and I said no this is my fourth and fifth!! His face was priceless! I have three redheads and had one more baby after the twins
      We were quite a sight!

  20. WORD.
    I’m pregnant with twins (and it’s my 3rd pregnancy), so I am totally prepared to hear all sorts of things coming out of people’s mouths. Simply because where I live, it’s the norm to stick to 2 or 3 kids. 4? People are going to go ballistic, lol.

  21. Did you post something like this before? I thought of it as the other day I saw a mom with her triplets at a breakfast place where I was eating. I initially thought of trying to be funny and say something along the lines of a “hands full” statement but I could see a small bead of sweat drip off her neck and thought she knows everyone’s looking at her. She knows her kids are loud, truth be told they weren’t any louder than any other table. So instead as I was leaving I patted her on the back and said “your kids are adorable and they look so happy, you must be doing something right!” Gave her and the kids a high five and walked away. She had a big smile on her face grateful for a nice comment. I’m sure it was a previous post of yours that made me reconsider what I was going to say. 🙂

    1. I think I did post something about our friend with triplets (the blog is so old, I forget!!). If it was that post, I’m so glad you took it to heart:)

      But, you did good! I’m sure she was glowing all day from that for sure!

      I know most people don’t mean it to be ugly, it’s just when you hear it all the time, every day, it tends to wear on you!

  22. Karen Glatt says:

    I think it is wonderful that you have 4 girls. They are so cute. I grew up in a big family, and I loved it. Now I have 3 other sisters and two brothers that I get to hang out with. I for a second could not find your baby, but I looked closer and saw your baby in its carrier hanging on you. How cute!!

    1. Yeah…she was definitely hidden in the carrier! I can’t hide her in it now! She’s gotten so big already!

  23. Oh my every single of those I hear daily! Drives me batty. I have 5 kids that live at home, 1 that lives with the ex. So when I correct people in that I have 6 kids not just the 5 they see, their faces drop even more and tell me I’m way way too young to have this many kids. Then they follow it up with “not trying to be rude but how old *are* you?” Hmm then why do you bother even asking the question if you’re not trying to be rude. Ugh this is on my top 5 pet peeves about people. lol

    1. Exactly…when you have to say the word “but” after saying you aren’t trying to do something…well, yeah….

  24. I think it is so weird that people think they can say these kinds of things but also – when did 4 kids become a crazy amount of kids?! We only have THREE and people make weird comments (we’d like one more too) – people think anything more than two and you are insane – when did that happen?

  25. love number 5 and what exactly are they talking about here. what causes what??
    5. “You know what causes that, right?”
    you mean what causes kids, red hair, hot air… what you mean? cause i know what cause me to have my kids, fell in love got married, you know the rest, lol… love your list. i have 2 daughters and have tired for 10 yrs to have more children, and i get some of those comments too and ones like; ” try to have a boy to add to the girls” ” 2 girls oh sorry” ” 2 girls, ya hoped for a boy didn’t ya ” ” 2 girls wow, dad is tough” i’m right there with ya girlfriend. and love the your mom taught you if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it at all!!! GOD bless you!!!!

    1. Nothing like the sting of wanting more and not being able to have more.

      Between our 2nd and 3rd daughters, I actually had a miscarriage. It was a boy. Yeah, when I get really feisty, I so want to throw that out there. Can you imagine the look on people’s faces?

      And, when they say it in front of your/my girls, that’s really what kills me!

  26. sherry butcher says:

    Some people are just so clueless. I married for the second time then we had 4 kids combined and got some of the same so I can definitely relate to this post.

  27. I LOVE this! I am a mom of six boys ages 16 – 5 and I’ve heard most of these more than once! Thank you for sharing your “insteads”.

  28. This is great!! love this. But come to Utah – your family would be small 🙂 Big families are normal here.

    1. My grandparents moved to Utah several years ago…I wrote this post and my grandma emailed me and said the same thing! Actually, she said we have a small family! Thank you!

  29. Love this! Your alternate comments are great! We have 5 boys and I’ve heard it all. The “poor you” get me the most. I’ve heard “I only have 1 boy and that’s enough” or “I’d have more but they’d prob be boys so we stopped”…sometimes in front of my boys. Infuriates me. When I was pregnant with my 5th son a lady in the grocery store kept eying me. I had the other boys with me and she finally came over and asked what I was having. I told her a boy and braced myself for a hurtful comment. Instead that wonderful woman smiled and said “wow, five boys! What a blessing! The world needs more Godly men!” I could have hugged her! My last baby happened to be a girl. We didn’t find out ahead of time and honestly assumed she’d be a boy, which would have been perfectly great. We simply wanted 6 kids. When she was born I heard, “well you finally got your girl!” more times than I can count. My boys were not failed attempts at a girl thank you very much. People went on and on about how lucky we were to finally have her. Yes, we are blessed but I must say, I think she’s pretty lucky to have 5 amazing, adoring big brothers!

    1. People asked me and still ask me if we will “try for a boy”…exactly like the first four were failed attempts? I like to think that people don’t mean it that way, but it sure sounds like it!

      You are so very blessed with your family!!

  30. Oh my..with 4 boys, I get so many of these..I usually just smile and move on..when did large families start to be a weird thing? 4 may be too many for the person next to me, but it’s just right for me…19 is too many for me, but they seem to be rocking it…Some are happy w/o kids others with just 5..I don’t judge u, don’t judge me ☺ I love that you added “insteads” it’s all about supporting and letting the mom/dad know that.

    1. We’ve got to help build each other up instead of tearing each other down. It makes me sad and so many people do it!

  31. While I was pregnant with my 4th child someone new at work asked me how many I had. One of my coworkers spoke up and said “to many”. I looked over at her and replied oh yeah which child do you think I need to get rid of?

    1. That’s the perfect response! I bet your coworker was shocked!

  32. Haily Elizabeth says:

    I’ve got 3, will have 4 this September (2 boys, a girl, & idk yet =) ….I’ve been getting these comments since I popped out my babygirl (#3), all my babies have been on several flights, in/out of airports, we do a lot of things & I get it done w/out hassle because i don’t let stress get to me that easily…I do get irritated by them sometimes naturally but it’s not that big a deal….I love our growing family, I love kids, I think people who make these remarks are the type to get inconvenienced super easily & possibly a bit high strung lol… proud of strong moms =)

    1. Right, you definitely have to go with the flow when traveling with small kids. And be very flexible!

      Yes, I think you are right, people that make the remarks think that we are going to inconvenience them as well!

  33. I get #1 all the time. It honestly doesn’t bother me. I usually answer “I don’t know how I do it either, I just do!!” I think people are referring to the time issue and I really don’t know how I get it all done, with no help, but I do…and I’m quite proud of myself for raising 4 children five years old and younger in our out and about life. I think you are really rocking it, too.

  34. Stephanie B. says:

    BTDT. Was definitely annoying. Don’t get it so much now that they’re older, 14, 13, 11, 9. But there’s only 5 years and 3 months between #1 and #4 so we got it a lot when they were smaller. I think people just don’t think before they open their mouths.

    1. There are seven years between 1 and 4 here, so I have a feeling it will be a while before it ends.

  35. My 4 kids are 19,16,11 and 8.
    3 girls 1 boy in that order. I have heard them all! “My you were busy” the how do you’s? And Oh what a handful. ..
    My “favorite” comments on my children are…
    1. hmm, all of them belong to you?
    -nope I don’t know them. why do they keep following me? Of course they are ALL mine lol they look like me don’t they?
    2.you finally got your boy in the end
    Yes, my 3 girls we’re just failed attempts at having a son…
    People come on seriously? I am blessed to be the mom to each one of my kids!
    3. You’re too young to have a 19 yr old. ..
    Last time I checked there wasn’t an age limit to become a mom? I was 20, God decided I did not.
    4. My ultimate favorite ( sarcasm intended) is when I get asked “so are all 4 from the same man?”
    I get it people are curious, but because of the 6 yr age gap between my two middle girls does that give you a right to ask about my sex life and see if there are multiple fathers. I shouldn’t have to explain one bit, and should say ..yep same man, been married 20 years! Now who’s got a problem with that?

  36. My parents had 8 children… I’m #7 of the 8, (and maybe I should add that we all have the same dad?) There is nothing that makes me more proud when telling anyone this. they drop their jaw….incredulous… Like we are a freak show!!! I love it!!!! Speaks volumes for my parents who (kind of) planned every one of us… They were the such wonderful parents!

  37. Love this post! Have gotten all of these, except we have three girls and a boy so it’s “poor dad…well, at least you got your boy!” Like the girls were just for practice. And I have also thought like many of you, when did 4 kids become such a big family. Even my ob/gyn acted like I was the old lady that lived a shoe…I was 38 when I had #3&4 and he was considerably younger than me. I am very proud of my family and think we rock it, but it also kind of bothers me when people call me Supermom. I think all moms are Super no matter how many (or few) kids they have!

    1. Yes…apparently my four are for practice for our boy! And, all moms are definitely Supermoms for sure!

  38. I just stumbled upon this post. I am a doctor, a pediatrician, in fact. I have 4 kids. I have heard all of the above as well.

    A few people asked me if I “skipped that day in med school” when I was pregnant with my 4th. I finally tired of being offended (we had dealt with infertility for years, & lost 2 ectopic pregnancies, so I was thrilled to be pregnant, naturally, with a 4th baby).

    I started telling people we knew EXACTLY what caused “that,” and we were really GOOD at “it.”

    That tended to shut them up pretty quick.

    1. Oh, that would make me hot if people asked me if I skipped med school! I think I would reply “right. I missed a day and I have no idea how this happened. Aren’t you glad I’m your doctor?!”

      I think you response is absolutely perfect and I’m working on getting my game face on and using that.

      I’m sorry for your loses, too. We had a miscarriage pretty far along right in the middle of the kids and then had some infertility and it’s very hard.

  39. Maybe it’s because I only have two children, but I don’t understand why it seems so many mom’s are so defensive about statements by people who probably don’t mean any harm. I’m specifically referring to #1 and #4. The others are undeniably rude, but when I say, I don’t know how you do it” I am marveling at the multitasking abilities, organizational skills, etc. it must take to handle a large family. It’s a compliment! I’m an only child, so big families blow my mind! Also, I get that comment all the time because I have a 5 year old with special needs, and a busy toddler. I basically say, “Well you do whatcha gotta do for your babies” and don’t even think to get offended. “Looks like you have your hands full!” Well don’t you? I mean, it’s cliché and stating the obvious, but most times I’d venture to say it’s just harmless smalltalk. Far be it from me to tell you how to feel. I just try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume they’re just trying to be nice. After all, they could say nothing, or something jerky like the other three examples listed. Your girls are beautiful, and I truly don’t know how you do it. I feel perpetually overwhelmed with just two! God bless!

    1. Yes, you are right, I’m sure it’s small talk and not meant to be offensive, we just get it a lot! Like every time we go anywhere. Just the other day, I’m trying to get my girls safely across the parking lot at the Y. A man, DRIVING in his truck, leans out the window and yells “all girls, huh? Boy, you’ve got your hands full!”

      It’s more the things like this. I mean, in conversation if you come up to me, yes, but yelling across the parking lot? It’s definitely not small talk and doesn’t seem all that productive. I’d rather him focus on driving and not hitting my kids.

      I do assume most people are trying to be nice, even if it’s said with a nasty tone, and despite my responses here, I’m very nice in my replies back, too:)

    2. I had seven children (Why, yes, they ARE all mine. I did, in fact, actually give birth to all of them. Why do you ask?) I DESPISED being asked “You DO know what causes that, right?” (No, I actually slept through high school biology. And Health class. And my mother’s “birds and bees” talk. Educate me.) Have you not been asked “Did you have that many ON PURPOSE?” (No, I had all of them by accident. It’s just a coincidence that there are breaks of up to six years between them. I decided to be celibate for extended periods…) “How can you afford it?” was another personal favorite. Apparently, there’s a law which requires you to buy all of your children $80 jeans, $120 sneakers and every electronic device known to mankind. Who knew? I was unaware that anything less means I’m an awful, abusive, neglectful parent. I just thought they needed food, clothing, shelter and love. I’m such a failure! My children now range in age from 21 to 36. For the curious, four boys and three girls and ye, they ARE all amazing, thanks! I felt your pain. You get to outgrow it when the baby leaves home, but it gets replaced by “empty nest syndrome”. WAIT! No, it doesn’t; it gets replaced by “FREE AT LAST!” and “I can’t wait for grandchildren.” (By the way, grandchildren are awesomer than children – and you get to send them home!)

      1. We haven’t been asked on purpose, but I think I would be less responsive to that for sure! Wow! And, yes, to the jeans and clothes and electronics. Ugh. I think people assume we are looking for a handout or something? I guess it’s unheard of that people can take care of their families!

        And, a LONG time from now, I will look forward to those grandchildren for sure!

  40. What? I don’t know why anyone would be offended by “I don’t know how you do it” or “you certainly have your hands full.” Spot on comments and that first one makes me feel like a superhero. I want to respond, “thank you! I don’t know how I do it either?.” I am due next month with my 4th boy and my oldest will be 4. My hands ARE full! Both of these could be considered compliments if you are not looking for reasons to be offended.

    1. I think it’s not just the words, but also the tone and the looks on people’s faces. I mostly am not offended by it, but I feel like the words aren’t really from a place of admiration.

  41. My all time favorite is #5 followed by #3. We have 5 girls so we have heard them all lol. I handle #5 with either no please explain to me or depending who I’m talking to with yeah we know what causes it and I think we are finally getting good at it. As a father of 5 girls when I hear #3 I just really don’t know how to respond my girls are my world. One question that we hear a lot is are you going to have any more. My response is always if we do it won’t be so we can try for a boy.

    1. Yes, I’ve definitely wanted to say we are good at it, too!

      And, yes, we get all the time if we will try for a boy. Nope, not at all. If we tried, it’s for a baby…not of one sex or the other.

  42. ?you should move to Ireland big family’s are still quite common(I’m one of 8) and red hair is very common so you won’t have much hassle there either! (I have slightly red hair but lots of my Nices and nephews have red red hair!- we blame my mother!)

    1. I’ll see if I can convince the family a move across the pond is in order!

  43. My first husband and I had 4 kids(3 girls 1 boy),the first three were each a year apart and the 4th one ws 2 years after. We were always asked if we were Mormon. So after a while whenever people would talk to us or we met knew people I always said right away, “No we are not Morman”. We just love our kids. BTW, two of them are red heads. my only son and 1 daughter. I now have six kids, but still only 2 redheads.

    1. My husband is asked if he’s Mormon or Catholic. We are neither:)

  44. On that last one my husband says sex, really loud if no kids are in tow and whispered in their ear if they are and that person ends up read faced! Now that I am used to it and know that’s what he will do, I find it amusing.

    1. I so wish I could convince my husband to say that! He doesn’t like making people uncomfortable! Maybe I’ll start saying it!

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