Little Fish In A Big Pond: 4 Telltale Signs You Grew Up In A Large Family

No matter how grown-up and independent we become as adults, we always carry our childhood dynamics with us.

Our upbringing shapes our attitude about holiday traditions, religion and even the correct method to scramble eggs. These handed-down opinions, ideals and values become second nature to us, and we tend to be pretty surprised when we come across people who honor a drastically different set of beliefs.

(The egg-scrambling issue is especially problematic in these situations. I've seen violence ensue because of it.)

Our sibling dynamic also contributes a lot to who we become and we often generalize based on it: We might say, "You can tell he was an only child" about someone, or "She's definitely the baby of the family."

One dynamic I think people are less informed about is how to tell when someone is from a large family, so on behalf of me (and my four siblings), here are some surefire signs that someone you know has several siblings.

Catering Crisis

People who grow up in large families have very curious relationships with food. We tend not to be particularly fussy about it because there's no way our parents would have cooked six different meals to suit our individual cravings.

We also favor the kinds of food that can be padded out to feed as many people as necessary, like pasta dishes and casseroles. These dishes are preferable because they allow us keep doing what we love most: having all of our friends around for meals as often as possible without panicking about portions.

Because meals are the cornerstone of our social lives, we live in fear and horror of under-catering an event. If I think that one friend is coming for dinner, I will cook enough food for six people, just in case.

You never know who else might show up, after all. Plus, leftovers are always handy. Also, many people who grew up in large families eat at the speed of light because they have vivid memories of fighting their clan for a fair share. Which brings me neatly to my next point...

Fighting Fair

All's fair in love, war and an enormous family. People with many siblings have a very clear sense of justice and equal treatment because as children, our lives were governed by whose turn it was to have the cereal box toy.

We are also excellent at debate and discussion because we had to develop an indomitable sense of perseverance. Basically, we won't shut up until you accept that we're right.

As children, we learned to assert our rights, make our voices heard and pursue fairness above all else. It may have ended in bloody noses and sulking when we were younger, but as adults, we are proud to know right from wrong and fairness from special treatment.

If you're ever trying to win an argument, you need to get one of us on your side. If you're in the right, we will be your most valuable allies.

Identity Issues

You know when you're on the street and you think you hear someone call your name, so you turn around to look and it turns out to be a complete stranger who is talking to someone who happens to share your name?

Right. Imagine you have that embarrassing, slightly surreal moment every time you hear any name, ever. For people who have many siblings, any name shouted in your direction could be addressed to you, personally, so you respond to all of them.

Twenty-something years of "Elizabeth-Rebecca-Matthew-Alice-which one are you?!" has led me to incorrectly introduce myself on more than one occasion.

We also have problems separating which life events have happened to which siblings. Sometimes I'll find myself halfway through a story about an event from my childhood, only to realize that it actually happened to one of my sisters. Don't even get me started on baby photos — we all look exactly the same in all of them.


Having many siblings can be stressful, confusing and competitive, but it is also an enormous blessing. Many large families are made up of really outgoing and sociable people, so we tend to share a lot of inside jokes and quote the same television shows to each other.

When my clan and I are all in the same room, the atmosphere is very energetic. It's brilliant to feel like you're in a very non-threatening gang and that whatever happens to you, there will always be a crowd of people right behind you, rooting for you and making you feel that you belong to something special.

People from large families also like to share the love, so if you are lucky enough to know someone who comes from a big family, make the effort to get to know their siblings. You might become an honorary gang member.

Photo via Godfather