Monday, June 23, 2014

In Which I Clear Up Misconceptions About My Large (but Loving!) Catholic Family

Hello, denizens of the Internet world! I'm Tani, I'm a cradle Catholic, and I'm 18 fabulous years old. I'm new here, and like every great story where there's a new kid butting into an old group, I'm going to desperately try to fit in before eventually realizing that I was perfect the way I was the entire time! *cue end music by Beyoncé*

Anyway, I was asked to write a bit about life in a big family. I am the third of twelve children (eleven on Earth, and one waiting to meet us in Heaven), a fact which makes some people choke, turn purple, and then ask my family absurd questions like, "Don't you know what causes that?" and, "Aren't you tired?" and, "Are you Mormon?" So, I thought I'd address some misconceptions about my type of family and tell you what it's really like growing up in the noisy, busy, and sometimes messy world of the Federoff house.

Big Catholic families: Now with 90 percent less shapeless denim!
Misconception #1: We're dirty and wild. 

I can see you picturing it now: the kids hanging off the banisters, stained and filthy, screaming as dishes rot in the sink and the furniture collects a solid inch of dust. I won't deny we make our share of messes (with five kids under 10, messes are a given), but our home is anything but a pigsty. We have a chore chart, with morning, afternoon, and night chores for each kid. According to age and ability, each child has a job that ranges from unloading the dishwasher (the 4-year-old) to cleaning bathrooms (the 16-year-old). As for behavior, we get compliments whenever we go out for how well-behaved the kids are, and those of us who attend public school are constantly given commendations from teachers and students alike for how helpful, respectful, and kind we are. That carries us out into the real world, too. We've found it's not hard to get a job when you're courteous and respectful to potential employers and display confidence in the workplace, all things we learned at home from our tireless parents, which brings us to...

Misconception #2: Our parents are frumpy/tired/uneducated.

Mom and Dad, November 2013
Ha! This one is hilarious. My mom has a master's degree in English. She goes to the gym four days a week. She led our homeschool group for four years and presently works for an online Catholic high school as a writing instructor. She wears nice clothes, even high heels on occasion. She's a source of almost boundless energy as she teaches kids, makes meals, mops floors, plays with babies, and argues with teenagers. My dad is in charge of all technology for our school district, and he's always inventing new ways to use tech to make life easier. Ever ridden a bus that has its own Wi-Fi network? Thank my dad; that was his idea. Heard about the newfangled schools that have moved beyond textbooks to completely Web-based learning? Yep, my dad was the first person to ever implement that into a school. And that's not all he does: He also designed and built our own house, he cooks, he sings, he plays guitar, and he taught Confirmation class for our parish for nine years. My parents are both invested in our spiritual lives, as well, leading us in a nightly rosary or Divine Mercy chaplet, taking us to Mass and confession, and teaching us how to defend our faith in the public square.

Misconception #3: We're on welfare! Oh, the horror!

Nope. We've never accepted a single dime in food stamps or welfare or any government program. Yes, we do get tax breaks due to our family size, but the amount is so piddling that it really means nothing compared to what it costs to raise a family. We are self-sufficient, with our own well, rainwater harvesting, and solar panels to offset electricity costs. We raise chickens and sheep. Our parents instilled in us a strong work ethic, but more than that, they taught us to depend on each other. We will never have to depend on the government to take care of us; that's what family is for. The bond of familial love is way stronger than a bond forged in a voting booth. And that's the best thing about living in a big family: There's a lot of love to go around, love that you can depend on through thick and thin. And that's better than all the quiet time and personal space in the world.

Misconception 4: We're Mormon.

Well, that's it. There's my refutation of a few of the most common misconceptions about big families. Yes, it can be loud, and it can be busy, and it can even be messy... but it's always awesome.



  1. Your dad works for a public school. The government takes care of you. And in the future, your dad will collect a govt pension, and both parents will collect Social Securit. Yes, it's earned. But nonetheless, your family benefits from government. It's okay. Personally, I think govt is worth defending.

    1. It's earned, you're right. But the government doesn't take care of. Taking care of implies that we are passive, waiting for free handouts. My dad does an honest days work and makes an honest day's pay, which he uses to care for his family. Big difference between that and a handout.