Don’t You Dare Say That

Someone has called me out on Facebook.

A news article in our local hometown rag was asking people how much they think a big family of seven would need to get by – a question added to their Facebook share of the article about a family struggling to make ends meet on $1,000/week welfare payments.

My qualm was the number of people jumping in to demand this woman keep her ‘legs together’ and her ‘pants on’ and stop having kids.

The whole point of the article, as I saw it, isn’t so much OMG these feral unemployed people have a large number of kids, as OMG they’re caught in a cycle they’re struggling to escape from and the cost of living is so high in our cities (Melbourne in this case) that even $1,000 a week doesn’t leave much over after the usual necessities of rent, electricity and food.

You can’t shove the kids back into a uterus when things get tough.

Now I admit I haven’t seen the ‘A Current Affair’ story highlighting the plight of this family. But then I don’t think most of the people commenting under the share even read the article, they just wanted a chance to whinge about a family receiving any sort of welfare. They clearly missed the bit where the mother and her mother were doing courses to try make themselves more employable, and the bit where the grandmother is quoted as saying she doesn’t want this life of welfare for her grandkids.

But I took issue with the main gripe in the comment thread.

After reading comment after comment of people bagging this woman’s sponge-like eggs out I put in my two cents worth: Really wish people would stop the ‘stop breeding’ bs. The kids are here already and you’re not being asked to do the hard yards raising them. I have seven kids. It’s a lot of work. It’s not for the faint hearted or lazy.

And my comment drew a few responses. Some people even doubled down.

Ur missing the point Bruce,it’s not about the raising them, have another 10 but don’t expect the government to fit the bill.

Hey have as many as you like if you intend on supporting and raising them right! Don’t worry about having so many though if you intend to do neither is all I am saying.

People seem to get very upset at the idea of Centrelink payments being their taxes, but have little to nothing to say on whether there are legitimate employment opportunities in an area.

The comment I most wanted to applaud was:

9 billion given in fuel subsidies alone to mining magnates… Hey let’s attack a family on welfare!

Furthermore, this article says nothing about where the dad is. Or if there’s one or more of them. If he ran off or died. If he’s ever been a part of their lives. If he’s working. We can all make assumptions, but without knowing the answers why do we assume the worst?

Anyway, that was all okay. I made a comment and there was a discussion. Some people even stood up for the family. And mine.

And then….this appeared:

How much money does Bruce Devereaux get from the government for his 7 kids, ?????? 2 might be off his financial care now due to age, but that still leaves him with 5 to claim for…so I guess that Bruce Devereaux is also getting $1000 a week to travel around Australia,, blogging, on welfare payments…are you standing up for another …welfare recipient with the same number of kids as yourself???,also livid

Firstly, I would just like to point out all grammatical errors are her own, including what appears to be sticky ? and , buttons.

Secondly, this person has clearly done some research on me, knowing two of my kids have left the nest.

Thirdly, pleased she spelt Devereaux correctly. Although the fact she linked the first instance of my full name directly to my FB account probably helped.

Fourthly, it didn’t come up in the comment thread under my comment. No. She started a whole new thread with this at the top for all the world to see and judge me on.

Fifthly, and if I’m honest this was actually my first thought, the HELL!!!

“Let it go,” said Tracey.

But that only made me think of that ear worm from Frozen which got me, if anything, more upset.

My first attempt at a response was rather cranky, so I simply savoured the use of words and phrases Facebook wouldn’t wait for admin to hide and then backspaced and started again. Let’s break it down and you can tell me how I did:

Haha no we both work.

I thought it was important to lighten the mood a bit after all the rage she’d introduced to the topic. I also know from experience people hate it when they’re trying to make a serious point and you snicker. Much to their detriment, my kids know that too. Then I thought I’d educate my aggressor on her concern my family is on some sort of taxpayer funded junket.

We’re both self employed. Both work a lot more than 40 hours a week too. Do we claim Centrelink? Yep. Perfectly entitled to do so. Its not dodgy or shameful or, in fact, anyone’s business. It’s also not the sort of figures you’re talking, but it does help 🙂

In retrospect I hate myself a little for typing the incorrect ‘its’. I put the smilie face in so I didn’t appear to be shitty with her. Then I instantly decided that I was cranky so I added:

also, a big collective raspberry from my family to you for your tone and attempt at shaming us for being us (and FYI that is a lot of spittle coming your way 😉 )

There aren’t many families who aren’t on some sort of benefit in this country, even if it’s only child care support, a medicare card or free hospitals if they fall ill. Our system is one of the great things about being Australian.

But that’s all beside the point. Big families are a lot of work and cost a lot of money to keep the wheels turning smoothly. We have to buy more beds, more sheets, bigger cars, bigger houses, more clothes, more meat, more fruit, more nappies, more formula, more children’s painkillers, more bum chocolate, more electricity, more water, more dishes, more washing, more yelling, more Christmas and birthday presents. Just basically more in every sense of the word. We usually can’t even go to a theme park or show without paying on top of a family pass.

But we who are doing it also generally wouldn’t change a thing. It’s a tough gig but it’s also extremely satisfying. By the time Miss5 is old enough to leave the house we’ll have been parenting for nearly 40 years.

And here’s the thing, after all this happened I was lying in bed – fuming – with Tracey talking about the kids and how lucky we are to have them all.

“If we hadn’t decided to have more,” I said, referring to our decision at one point to leave it at our oldest two kids, “we’d have been childless now. Just you and me.” You probably assume I was saying this wistfully. Nope. “That’d be so boring!” Then I had a thought which genuine saddened me. “Can you imagine that one day we’re not going to have any kids at home?”

I mean, it’s only about fifteen years away!

Tracey immediately put my mind at ease by bringing up the fact I’m ten years older than her.

“Not in your lifetime, Darl,” she said, kissing my forehead.

But the really good news is with me gone she could finally rort our welfare system the way we intended when we tottled off to bed to fertilise her eggs, over and over again. Good times ahead.

Thank you to Sarah for coming to our defence xxx

Raising a family on little more than laughs

– this post is not sponsored or gifted –

14 Comments

  • I really enjoy your blog, Bruce, and from the perspective of my personal entertainment (which is very important) wouldn’t have your family any other way. Keep on truckin’!

  • Haha I used to smile and laugh at teachers when I was “in trouble” at school and it’s so effective.

    Also though – have these haters thought that while you claim whatever you are able to (as a lot of people do if they are eligible) that you are raising a lot of future taxpayers to “make up” for whatever slight they feel at claiming something you’re allowed to? Or are they that shortsighted?

  • QUOTE: “Now I admit I haven’t seen the ‘A Current Affair’ story highlighting the blight of this family. ”

    I wonder if that is what you meant to say, or another example of autocorrect?

  • Obviously the commenter is unhappy in their own life. No one who was happy ever went around being nasty to others, in my opinion.
    We all have our own stories… deep and rich with happiness and sadness that bring us to where we all are right now.
    Please don’t let them under your skin xxx

  • WHAT A DICK! ( Not you, her) Also have a look at what the mining companies/ banks/ etc etc ARE getting… but no we’ll distract you with welfare… I think that is where the term useful idiot comes in. There’s lot of em out there.

  • God, some people out there are dipshits. People love to jump on a negativity bandwagon without knowing all the facts. It’s a Facebook specialty. I honestly do not know many people who do not claim some kind of Centrelink benefit at some point in their lives. Whether it’s a legitimate pension of some kind or the childcare rebate. How many of us got baby bonuses when we were eligible to? So many of my friends needed rent assistance or study allowances while at uni or TAFE. Why pick on the person who has a big family, who has the guts to come out and say it’s tough? We don’t know all of her circumstances! I don’t know if people realise this but ‘news’ is always edited and put together into quick grabs or selective details. Otherwise every TV show segment would be a full length feature documentary. Some things are sure to be lost in translation or manipulated in order to optimise on sensationalism. I know very fortunate people who whinge that they can’t get any benefits – who’s more obnoxious? I reckon the well-off idiots who cry poor and do nothing to help others (and I know some)!

  • Bruce, please change your typing error: blight to plight. You are condemning the other family when I am sure that is not what you intend! And a big yay! to all the big families … a ton of adventures and fun! Love reading about yours!

  • I’ll admit to having been curious as to how you guys support your family in light of your retirement from banking…. but it stays as that, curious, because ultimately it’s none of my business, same as how I support my family is none of yours 🙂 Keyboard warriors can be such arseholes!

  • Wow. I live in America with 5 kids. Our government does not give any money to help with kids. I wish they did. Not for a free hand out, but because families are the back bone for society, and having both parents work out of the home creates latch key kids, and it’s hard to have quality family time. (in America those are very offensive words I wrote). We also do not receive free medical, and those that push for it are considered lazy. I don’t know living exspenses here vs there, but I live in the Portland Oregon area, and its exspensive. This year alone we paid $30,000 on health care, and mental health care. We adopted kids through foster care, and they give you $450 a month. When I petion for more, I’m questioned on what I do with the money. Because, you know, severe trauma as a kid does’t cause huge mental problems (sarcasm). Ok, there’s my rant of understanding how you feel.

  • Cannot remember the last time I applauded the use of the word ‘spittle’ in a comment. Possibly never. Kudos to you for (a) excellent use of vocabulary, (b) an extremely moderate reply when I think what I would have written in your position, and (c) being you. Keep that one going.

  • I found this quote satisfying from your article “But we who are doing it also generally wouldn’t change a thing. It’s a tough gig but it’s also extremely satisfying. By the time Miss5 is old enough to leave the house we’ll have been parenting for nearly 40 years.” And, thankfully, you are sharing your 40 years of experience in the (pre adult) parenting realm! Not many parents can speak from that many years experience “in the trenches”. That is valuable experience to share with the world, and thankfully, you are doing so. 🙂 Good luck to you, from a mother of 4.

What do you think?