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18 Skills You Learn Growing Up in a Big Family

Sure their dinner tables are crowded, but their hearts are full. While the average American family is actually shrinking according to research, 13 percent of Americans are in a family with four or more children. Here is the most relatable wisdom from people from large families, because—you know—the more the merrier!


How to socialize

Friendship and patience comes a little easier to people from big families. "Although my house has never been quiet, I wouldn't want it any other way. It's made me a much more social and loving person. I have learned to be more patient and understanding—and I know where to hide the good candy!" —Emily Scoular, one of seven children

iStock/Christopher Futcher

How to shine on your own

"I learned from a young age how to stand out in a crowd. You always had other people vying for attention and if you wanted to be heard, or in some cases if you wanted dinner, you had to step up your game. For better or worse, I think it helped all of us develop our personalities." —Megan Allsup, one of five children


How to support each other

Sisterhood is definitely one of the things people from big families know how to knock out of the ball park. "The biggest lesson I learned is to always have your sisters' back as your sisterswhether related by blood or notwill have yours." —Gloria Yang, one of five girls (Here are the best movies about sisters to watch this weekend.)

iStock/Lisa Blue

What to expect in the future

People from large families know that the youngest siblings grow up a little faster because they're exposed to more, like the endlessly cool older sibling to first walk the family path. "I grew up with seven siblings and because of it, I've always had a built-in support system. I never needed many friends outside of my family which made me very independent early. When I went away to college, I had already tried a lot of the things my peers were doing because my older brother and older sister had set the precedence by trying it all, so thanks to them I didn't have to fall down the rabbit hole of new experiences with strangers." —Tamar Bazin, one of seven children

iStock/Armin Staudt

How to share

"I grew up one of four and the eldest of two younger sisters, so I had to be their role model. While I was at home sleeping they would sneak out and take my car. Nothing in my wardrobe was mine except my shoes (they were way too big for them). Sharing is now my nature because of my siblings." —Orna Zak, one of four children


Check before you pee

People from big families know that solo bathroom time is completely sacred, if not rare. "I grew up in a three-family house with aunts, uncles, and cousins. I learned to always check the shower or pull back the curtain before using the bathroom. At five years old, I heard 'I see you' while I sat helplessly on the potty and it scared the daylights out of me! I still look to this day!" —Rachel Ferrucci, one of many from a large, extended family under one roof 


There's always room for one more

You know what the most heart-warming thing people from big families know is? It's that there's always room for one more at the table or celebration, and community is everything. "I'm the youngest of nine kids and my mom always said, 'What difference does one more make, the more the merrier' when we asked if someone could come over to eat, play, etc. It's probably why I love entertaining! If I ever hear of anyone who doesn't have a place to go for Thanksgiving or Christmas I always make sure to invite them to join us, whether I know them well or not. I just warn them that it will be loud and it will be crazy, but it will also be fun." —Noelle Smith Primavera, one of nine children


Emotional intelligence is everything

"I grew up in a blended family with six kids between two houses (four at my primary home). As the oldest, the biggest lesson I learned as part of such a large family was emotional intelligence. Being able to read a room and understand how people are feeling, and adapting accordingly. This can also be a hurdle, because being constantly aware and worried about how other people are feeling can make it hard to get an honest point across." —Christina McGoldrick, one of six children (These are signs you have incredible empathy.)


How to discuss hot topics without turning it into an argument

"People from big families learn how to discuss divisive topics with brilliant, opinionated, and emotional people and stay kind. Politics, social issues, religion... it can get hot in the Sandberg household, but we learned to never personalize it. Turned out to be an incredibly useful skill." —Erica Sandberg, one of seven children (Use one of these wise quotes to stop any argument.)

iStock/Johnny Greig

How to laugh at yourself

"As the youngest of seven children (five girls and two boys), the most positive thing I learned was the ability to laugh at myself and just generally have thick skin. My six siblings are now and always will be my built-in best friends, but it doesn't mean that they don't seize the opportunity to humble me when it seems I may need to be taken down a notch." —Monica Banks, one of seven children

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest