Cheaper by the dozen: Students shaped by uniquely large families

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Families are not all one and the same.

Meet three California Baptist University students who come from large families, ranging from five to 12 siblings. From homeschooling to sharing and finding personal identities, each of these students has had a unique experience with their large family.

Elizabeth Wickham, senior music education major, is third in a family of six children. She and her siblings, three sisters and two brothers ranging in age from 11 to 33, have been homeschooled their entire lives.

Wickham said having a large immediate family has taught her patience and contentment, and she hopes to have a big family of her own in the future.

Standing out in such a big crowd can be a difficult thing, but junior Christian behavioral science major Glorianne Wilkins said that she was able to find her own personal identity from within her tight-knit family.

“A lot of times people group us together as ‘the Wilkins kids’ and create this one blob of a personality,”

Wilkins said. “On one hand, that has its challenges because we all had to work to figure out who we were apart from each other, but at some point in their life everyone has to do that.”Wilkins grew up in a family of five boys and five girls. Her family moved around until settling in Northern California 13 years ago.

“We learn to share real fast. Bang the bathroom door when someone is taking too long,” said Wilkins. “You learn to not wait around because if you do you will miss your chance. The timid would not do well. When it comes to food and the bathroom you have to get in while you can or else you will miss your chance.”

Although there were struggles coming from such a large family, Wilkins now has a unique perspective on family life.

“I’ve seen the benefits of growing up in a stable family with several personalities and being able to find who you are within that mix,” Wickham said. “I love being in a big family; I wouldn’t have it any other way.

While Wilkins hopes to one day have a family of her own, she does not plan on having 10.

“I do not know if I could do what my mom does. She is unlike anyone I know and she and my dad have done a great job with what God has given them. Raising kids, either one or 10, is hard work and a serious responsibility,” Wilkins said.

Adam Shire, junior mechanical engineering major, also comes from a large family. However, he and his 12 brothers and sisters never all lived in the same house due to their age range and being placed into foster care.

Shire was 5 years old when he and his siblings were placed into foster care He was 11 years old when his mother passed away. At various times, he shared a foster home with a few siblings but not consistently.

“I have a big family, but I wouldn’t really call it a family,” Shire said. “I got to bond with my family at different times, but never all of my siblings.”

Having missed living with three of his siblings and moving out from his foster family’s home, Shire wants his own future family to be different.

“I want maybe three to five children, which, according to regular standards, would still be kind of big but not to my standards,” Shire said.

Each of these students came from unique families that have shaped their own futures. The impact that their family life had on their personality is evident. It all goes to show that each family has a different story.

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