How the media is problematizing large families

Full disclosure: I am not only a father of four children but also a passive member of the association quoted below.

There is some extremely interesting research and – speaking not just as a blogger but editor-in-chief of a weekly newspaper – devastating analysis of how the media creates and perpetuates stupid prejudices against families, especially

Source: Verband kinderreicher Familien
Source: Verband kinderreicher Familien

those with three or more children. This in turn leads to a messy, unfair and deeply disturbing misrepresentation of families. This analysis is coming from the association of “child-rich” (love that term!) families in Germany (this is their home page).

As the multilingual website “FamilyandMedia.eu” reports (check them for the full story here), the prejudices against families with three kids come about in four ways:

1) The media speaks about large families only in relation to problems: too many financial burdens, conflicts from living together, and unstable accommodations. By rule, with a few exceptions in the popular press, they are represented with negative clichés, such as “families with many children are abnormal” or “only families with immigrant parents have many children.” The image that results is that large families are excessive or only proper to socially marginalized categories.

2) 41% of the examined articles offered a negative image of the traditional family, understood as a family in which the father works and the mother is at home, with one or two children (an image that, coincidentally is also far from reality).

3) While news about the family in general is mostly related to politics, those concerning large families are always presented in relation to specific and problematic cases.

4) The topic of family and of the number of children was treated in a reductive way, giving space only to opinions that were based on common places and stereotypes, which in turn were often supported by the voices of so called “experts.”

Sure, they “only” analyze German media, but does this not apply to most Western media? I reckon so.

For readers of German and those not afraid of Google Translate, here is an excellent interview with the spokesperson of the association, Florian Brich, about the “conceptual hurdles” that families need to tackle to have a fair voice, representation and coverage in the media.