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   Inside Out - South: Monday 20th January, 2003

BIG FAMILIES

The Lewis Family with actress Linda Robson
THE LEWIS FAMILY | Everyone manages to squeeze into shot for a family photo with actress Linda Robson

Always dreamed of having a big family? How big? We've tracked down Tracy and Pete Lewis, who have 12 children. So before you decide how many kids you should have you'd better read this!

That oft-quoted figure of 2.4 children making up the average family is now a statistical relic. Nowadays the average is 1.6 children per family and it seems to continue to plummet. But there are still parents out there that buck the trend.

Big Is Beautiful

Four children get ready for the day
Bathroom Rush - In the morning don't expect the room to yourself!

For Tracy and Pete Lewis "Big is Beautiful" when you talk about families. They have 12 children with number 13 on the way. Their children range from 19 to I suppose, minus two months, all of whom cram into a five-bedroom house in the South of England. (That's an average of three people per bedroom for those people still marvelling at the power of statistics).

Having so many offspring, however, wasn't necessarily how Tracy saw her family life turning out. She says, "We thought we'd have four … The thing is I met a good caring husband who knows how maternal I am and he has supported everything I wanted …I couldn't have done it without him".

Dad prepares a meal for  14
Dad prepares a meal for 14

Family life seems to come easily to the household. There are two sittings for every meal. Breakfast alone sees the consumption of at least two loaves of bread and two boxes of cereal and up to 12 pints of milk

No sooner is breakfast out of the way then it's on to making packed lunches for everyone and then on to thinking about all that washing.

Tea has got to be ready for 4.30 when starving kids start to return from their day at school.

What do people think?

But how does the rest of society, all those 1.6ers, view people who have such large families?

Charles Lewis in his bedroom
Being the only boy has it's advantages - Charles is the only member of the famiy with his own room.

Well Pete says he gets mostly positive feedback, "As soon as people find out they want to know more. We realise we are so lucky to have a family full of healthy and happy children".

"People tend to imagine themselves in your shoes, and then can't see how you can possibly cope. Really, you have to learn to take things in your stride".

In the end it's all down to how you feel as a parent. Pete says;

"there's never a dull moment in our house. It's great doing everything together and I really enjoy being in such a large, happy family".

See also ...

On bbc.co.uk
2.4 children 'no longer the average' (News)

On the rest of the web
So, What's It Really Like Having Eight Children? (ukparents.co.uk)
Love @ Home
4ormore.co.uk
Large Families R Us Webring

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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Readers' Comments

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Emily
Bravo!!! I think you have alot of courage and patience. I am the mother of one. I always wanted many, but now I fully understand the challenges of parenthood. May God be with you.



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