Something to Think About: Is Your Family's Size My Business?

Why is it that in our country today, it is not considered politically incorrect to have an abortion? To terminate a child's life at almost any stage of pregnancy?

Why is it that it is completely OK with the vast majority of Americans to control the size of one's family through various methods of birth-control?

Why is it that it is considered acceptable for a parent of 1, 2, 3, X amount of children to roll their eyes at how difficult their kids are and how they would "die" if they had another? Or for them to say "You're pregnant! I'm so glad it's not me." (Happened to me the other day.)
Yet somehow a family is criticized if they are doing nothing to prevent pregnancy and they are "letting God plan their family size."

A family who has 4 children (sometimes less) is often asked if they are "done."

A family with 6 or more children is critiqued by strangers as to the quality of care they can possibly give "so many children," and if they "know what causes that."

If it is OK for people to not want a ton of kids, and to prevent pregnancy, why can't those who WANT a bunch of kids be given the same acceptance?

I understand that families are different and kids are different and there are a lot of factors that contribute to how many children a family decides (or is able) to have. I do not feel there is one correct size for a family. I also have no personal convictions against preventing pregnancy through healthy and safe methods (of course I am against abortion). Yet if it is a matter of personal opinion to have 2 kids, can't we let it be a matter of personal opinion of someone wants 8? If it is a matter of personal opinion to prevent pregnancy, can't it be a matter of personal opinion to do nothing to prevent pregnancy?

Yes, many people will say that it is hard for a family of many kids to properly care for them all. Of course there will be some logistics to consider, but statistics do not really show that children of small families grow up healthier than children of large families. I've seen families who are doing a poor job raising 2 kids and families that are doing an excellent job raising 12 kids. If there is a problem with having a lot of kids, the problem has to do with the parenting, not the number of children.

It may be overwhelming for someone who feels they are only able to handle 3 kids to see a family with 8 kids. But the way to handle the situation is not to say "I could never do that!" or "you must be super woman!" or "I hope you are done!" Rather, it's to keep your opinions and fears to yourself and ask God to give you the grace to handle the 3 he has given you. Chances are the family of 8 is madly in love with each of their kids and conversation starters like those mentioned above will not reflect the love Jesus has for children, even though it is true that many kids can be overwhelming sometimes.

While we do not plan on having 12 children, what offends me about the negative attitude many people portray when it comes to having more children than they think is ideal (whether that be 3 kids or 7, or 10), is that, whether or not the parent or random stranger realizes it, it acts like children are mostly a burden. You think my kids are cute? Let me set you straight by telling you what a burden there are. You have many kids? Let's make some small talk about what a burden they are.

Let us remember that children are a blessing from the Lord. Whether you have 2, and that’s all your family is planning to have, or 10. Lets not say negative things in front of them and others that devalue what children are; precious gifts of God.

Matthew 18:10 "See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven."

Mark 10:14 "But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, 'Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.'"

Psalm 127:3-5 "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."

Here are some links to more good reading on this issue:

"Everywhere you go, people want to talk about your children. Why you shouldn’t have had them, how you could have prevented them, and why they would never do what you have done. They want to make sure you know that you won’t be smiling anymore when they are teenagers. All this at the grocery store, in line, while your children listen…. Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get. In fact, children rate below your desire to sit around and pick your toes, if that is what you want to do. Below everything. Children are the last thing you should ever spend your time doing."

"The other common theme is how much each of these adult children from large families has expressed how much they LOVED growing up surrounded by many siblings! Again and again they have each said how much fun it was, how close they are to their siblings, how they wouldn't trade it for anything. Yet, I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard negative comments that children in big families will HATE it because they didn't get enough one-on-one attention from their parents, that they had to help out too much, had to share a room, blah, blah, blah. Really? Ask the children in large families!"

"Our children have always come right at the top of the priority list in our marriage. Our large family wasn't accidental. We wanted to surround our selves with children and in very short time we did."

"As we all joked about these and had a good laugh, I realized that most people (with the exception of some who are just all drama) say these things with all sincerity. They genuinely feel like these comments are wanted, appreciated or that it will spur on a fruitful discussion. I'm actually not sure why private issues like fertility have become such common place topics to bring up with strangers."

(And not all large families are Catholic!)

Something to think about…


{This post is linked up at Modest Monday.}


whenpigsfly said...

So well spoken Melodie!! As we in our famiy continue to be open to whomever God would bring us through adoption, after already having 7 bio-babes, I think I have "heard it all" and most of it is NOT pretty, particularly in Christian circles. I have said so many times, "God does not call us all to have 15 or 2 children, or any or many more, BUT if we will pray for each other that we do the very best job with what God has given US and pray that God strengthen those with the "whatever we don't have number" to do THEIR best, we will ALL be blessed with the best! I was not called to be mom to two. I'm glad. I know folks who I'm equally glad were not called to aprent AT ALL. I love being called to be mom to 15 right now, still praying home two Liberian gems, and would not trade a minute of my life as a Mom. Like so much else, we as beleivers need to apply Phil4:8 to our approach with families who are structured differently than our own. Or to quote my mom from years gone by , "If everyone were perfect like ME, the world would sure be boring!" We still laugh so hard about the silliness of that tongue-in-cheek- quote but grimace at how true some folks seem to think it is.

Sherrie said...

Love the post!!! I noticed you said you weren't having 12 kids so does that mean 11 is a possibility :) Just kidding. So excited for the one you are having now...soon you will get to hold that sweet baby and so starts the overwhelming love.