Saturday, June 12, 2010

Families vs. What "The World" Has to Offer

This morning I read some unkind comments that a woman had posted about large families, and it has me thinking this morning. (You can read the comments and the rebuttals here.)

Mostly, I'm sad and disturbed that there are people out there that really feel this way about large families like mine. It makes me sadder than I can say. :-(

I want to honestly look at a few of these prejudices out there about large families, and add my two cents to the issue.

As I understand it, here are the main issues that concern some people, regarding large families:

1) Kids in large families have to sacrifice in order to share their personal space.

It's true, that in a large family, there is less private space for each individual. They have to share bedrooms (many times with more than one sibling) and may not ever know what it is like to have a room all to themselves.

My first response to this is, why does our modern society feel that individual children should be given their own room/television/computer/play system to occupy themselves with? Why is there such a push toward isolation for children? Why do people feel that there can be such a thing as "too much" family time?

I believe that selfishness is the scourge of recent generations. Selfishness fuels all that is wrong in our society today: abuse, unkindness, divorce, abortion, etc.. And I believe that we as parents reinforce the "virtue of selfishness" when we teach our children to think only of themselves, and their wants.

Even if I had only three or four children, I would expect my children to share their bedrooms with their siblings. Why? Because in so doing, they learn lessons about sharing, about patience, about respecting others. They learn that the world is a place to work with others, to find compromises, and solutions that bless others-- not just themselves.

2) The older children become babysitters for the little ones.

Yes. This DOES happen. But those of us with large families do this out of more than necessity. We also do this ON PURPOSE because we believe we are raising future parents! We don't want our children to be ignorant and helpless when it comes to caring for children, because we believe that children ARE the future. We hope our children grow up to start families of their own. We believe that strong, loving families are the building block of successful societies, and we feel called to train our children to be the builders of the next generation. So they learn to wipe noses, to respond to a child's cries of hunger, to change diapers, to dress and care for someone with real needs.

3) Large family households are chaotic.

This is sometimes true, but I also know plenty of small families with chaotic households. I'm afraid we large families don't have the corner on that market! So, yes, there can be bigger messes, but we large families also have more people to help clean up those messes. :-)

Children who do chores learn how to take care of themselves. They learn how to cook, how to clean, how to effectively run a household. Adults outside our family who work with my children always compliment me on the practical skills that my kids have. My children have learned to be good workers, and know how to effectively work together to accomplish something good. Are they perfect? No. But they are learning and are being trained in their home. Our goal is for them to be equipped to navigate their adult lives with confidence and competence.

4) Haven't You Ever Heard of OVERPOPULATION???

I've had a few comments of this variety on my other blog, and I am surprised at how stubbornly so many people hold on to this unproven theory. In fact, this idea has been DIS-reputed over and over again, using mathematics and statistics, yet the general populace insists on defending and repeating this dogma in lock-step!

Here are some ACTUAL statistics* for you:
  • In order for a culture to maintain itself for more than 25 years, there is a required fertility rate of 2.11 children per family.
  • A rate of 1.3 children per family is impossible to reverse itself, because it takes 80 to 100 years to correct itself.
  • As of 2007: the fertility rate in France was 1.8; the rate in England was 1.6; the rate in Greece was 1.3; Italy was 1.2; and Spain was 1.1
  • In Europe, there is one group of people who do have a higher birth rate than the natives of each of these countries. Muslim immigrants have a fertility rate of 8.1 children per family in France, for example.
  • Canada's fertility rate is 1.6
  • Here in the United States of America, our current fertility rate is also 1.6 (With Latino immigration, the rate increases to 2.11).
The blog of another "Mom of Many," had this to say:
In an editorial review of the secular book, Empty Cradle by Phillip Longman the following is noted:

“Overpopulation has long been a global concern. But between modern medicine and reduced fertility, world population may in fact be shrinking - and is almost certain to do so by the time today's children retire. The troubling implications for our economy and culture include: The possibility of a fundamentalist revival due to the decline of secular fertility.”

Interesting. Some of them are noticing we’re multiplying—and they’re afraid.

Interestingly, while God’s people were slaves in Egypt, the Egyptian Pharaoh made the same observation as Mr. Longman and he grew fearful. In Exodus chapter 1 we read:

"But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them. Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we…”

Of course, when Longman speaks of the “troubling implication” of a “fundamentalist revival” he is not simply referring to Christians; he’s referring to any religious group that is having children—lots of them. But, the fact remains: another demographer is noticing that secular folks (and Christians who think like them) are shrinking in numbers.

Birth control, homosexuality, abortion, and women pursuing careers rather than marriage all contribute to the declining birth rate. Rather than view children as the blessing Scripture tells us they are, they are seen as “just another mouth to feed,” or as a burden that gets in the way of our personal goals.

Here are two videos that I think spells out the myths behind over-population very well:

I sincerely feel called to bring children into the world, into a loving home where they are taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

From where I stand, some of the disgust that people have for large families comes from a difference in priorities. To many, a big house, complete with a bedroom for each child, is a necessity. They feel that they simply cannot do without the newest model cars, designer clothes, convenience foods, and endless entertainment budgets.

Those of us with large families feel exactly the opposite. We willingly sacrifice the world's material goods in order to bring more children into our families. And by so doing, we are teaching our children what is really important.

The choices that each of us make in our lives strongly effect the next generation. Actions and example speak louder than words, and I hope we are telling our children loud and clear that THEY are more important than material goods.

As I believe they truly are. :-)

* You can read about national birth rates by scrolling down on this page to the Demographic Data Estimate charts


  1. Good for you! I was only able to have 3 children each with a special need of some sort. I've learned to trust God that it was right for me.

    I think it's great that some people have large families. I am a big supporter!

    A friend of mine, had mean things said to her and about her when she announced she was pregnant with her 5th. I thought it was just awful.

    On a side note: Please don't judge those of us who only have a few children. It doesn't mean we wouldn't love to have more. For some of us, we just can't.

    I enjoyed the post!

  2. You have a VERY well behaved family. We had a family of six stay with us that was more chaotic, rude, and messy than your family of 12! (Your family was not any of these things!)

    I only have three kids and they share rooms. We fostered children and they shared rooms with my kids. As adults, they will share a room with a spouse. These are very important things for them to learn.

  3. Dana: {{{hugs!}}} I came from a family of four kids, and I totally understand and support moms of smaller families. I really did not mean to offend!

    I guess because I have a large family, I was just focusing on defending those of us who get negative comments about our family's size-- but I know some small families who get rude comments the other way, too! :-(

    I guess we should all just do the best we can, and support and love each other on our journeys!


  4. Rachel, I was not offended in anyway. Reallly. I just wanted to be sure that people realize that moms of many children have supporters in other moms who don't. I know (through friends) that judgement is sometimes harsh from others regarding large families. Many of us who don't are happy for those who do. ☺

    Women should be supportive of each other, realizing that each has an individual mission that may look somewhat different from another's. Don't ya think? ☺

  5. Celeste: Thank you! You're so sweet! We had the best time staying with you guys. I know we can be somewhat overwhelming when we show up on someone's doorstep! LOL!

  6. Well said, Rachel! I read that same article. I've been asked by many people how we handle the "negative comments" regarding our large family (we have 10 children so far). Honestly, we don't get any bad comments about our family size (other than the usual, "You are done, right?!"). I would imagine you don't get those bad reactions either. When our children demonstrate the good character that they learn as part of being in a large family, our critics are left speechless. I believe this is what is meant in the last part of Psalm 127:4-5~ As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them; THEY SHALL NOT BE ASHAMED, BUT THEY SHALL SPEAK WITH THE ENEMIES IN THE GATE.

  7. I Enjoyed this post. Right now, I am 7 weeks pregnant with #8, but we are not telling the family because they are already critical of our 7. My mother in law keeps telling me kids are too hard. It is weird because she had 9. But, I love my big family. I feel blessed to have a big family, and I will be happy to be blessed with more sweet additions. I certainly don't think it is too hard. Life is fun in a big family. It is nice to read others blogs who feel the same way.

  8. I enjoyed reading your post. We currently have 17 (his, mine, ours, theirs). I seldom hear a negative comment, usually just astonishment.
    Just last night my oldest son, 25 and single, was commenting about how he'd like to get married and have a child in the next 3-5 years. He said he wanted to be financially secure first. I told him my opinion, which is to choose the right partner, prepare yourself to provide for your family, and the rest will come. We were talking about the sacrifices we made to have a large family - none of which were bad sacrifices. It's not horrible to have to drive a used car, or share rooms, etc.
    Thanks for your comments!

  9. I love this post. Thank you for writing this.


I will not approve any comments that are rude, negative, or disrespectful. Thanks for being civil! :-)