Is Eight Really Enough?

July 27, 2005 — -- A brood of brothers and sisters used to be a common occurrence, but today the average American family has just 2.1 children.

Rachel Scott, a 44-year-old mother of eight, is bucking the trend and advocating for more moms and dads to follow her lead in her new book, "The Secrets of Super Duper Moms: How Moms of Large Families Do it All," due out in October.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average age American woman is giving birth for the first time is 25.1, a record high. Only 10 percent of women end their child bearing years with four or more children, as compared to 36 percent in 1976.

Scott says couples should have children, not just because they are cute. She says that the future of our society hangs in the balance.

"When good people stop having kids, society fails," she said. "Our society definitely needs strong families once again."

She says she considers herself a success because she's put eight productive members of society on this Earth, and others can do it too.

Scott's eight children range from college-age to diaper age. She doesn't have a nanny and she doesn't have live-in help, and the number one question she's asked is, "how do you do it all?"

Scott's practiced retort: "What do couples with just one or two kids do with all their free time and extra money?"

She insists there are ways to make it work, and the rewards are well worth it.

Affording a large family

According to a government estimate, by the time a child hits 18, parents will have spent $190,000, or about $10,560 each year. But the Scotts have found ways to cut costs.

They live on a budget, drive old cars and don't give the kids an allowance. The family recently bought a 60-inch television they saved up for four years to buy, and they continually fix up a 1990 boat.

Ruling the Roost

Rules are essential to keeping the troops in line, and the Scotts have a lot of them, including:

• By the age of 8, the kids are doing their own laundry.

• Children are not treated as "prima donnas". They have to pitch in and do-chores.

• Once a week, Rachel and Christopher have "date night" -- and the kids aren't allowed to interrupt them unless there is "bloodshed or stitches".

• Everyone has dinner together, no matter what.

• Rachel does not make their lunches or lay-out their clothes: the kids are encouraged to be very independent.

• To cut down on needless bickering, there are assigned seats in the TV room and car.

How It Happened

High school sweethearts Rachel and Chris, didn't always didn't always plan on having a large family, although Rachel had already given birth to their first child by the time they graduated college. But after a few unplanned pregnancies, they found themselves with a brood of four children and decided to go along with "God's joke on them." Chris Scott cancelled his vasectomy appointment and the couple had four more kids in five years.

Scott says that no one will regret having a child, and she doesn't regret giving up a career in news to be a full time mom. She says, however, her career was her biggest sacrifice.

Scott says all of her children want their own big families, and she actively encourages her daughters to start having kids young, and have lots of them.