Monday, August 31, 2009

Loving those bigger families..

My cousin just called today. It was so great to hear her voice and especially her great news--she's expecting a baby. Unfortunately, not everyone in her circle was rejoicing. You see, she already has a girl and a boy. I mean, you already have the perfect family, why go for more? Are there any other varieties of children that you were hoping for?

And so the persecution starts. On top of morning sickness, taking care of a preschooler and a toddler, the expectant mother of her third child, gets "flack" from perfect strangers, family members as well as church people about a new baby coming. Is this really fair?

(I eliminated this paragraph--sounded snooty)

But what I do not get is why people in the church are not more supportive to bigger families? Perhaps, I am naive, but the bigger families I have met are great additions to the local churches. I am not saying that having a big family creates this aura of godliness that no one else can achieve, but I know from the few years that we did have quite a few children in very close succession that it is something that really draws you to the Lord in faith and dependence.

Not to mention--developing a sense of humor! If having a big family does not teach you how pathetic you are without God, I'm not sure what will! And if there's anything in you that thinks you have it together, God will make sure you get just the right child to put you back in alignment. (thanks, Hud!) Speaking of Hudson, he was child #3. And he's the child I'm going to live with when I'm too old to live by myself. I can't wait. I'm going to crawl up on the counters and eat treats off the top of the fridge. I'm going to plug the toilet with wads of toilet paper. I'm going to eat laundry detergent and swallow money... Oh yes, I am..

Oh, where was I? Big families. I am not campaigning for everyone to go out have a big family. Nor am I suggesting that smaller families are less spiritual. But I am campaigning for everyone to start appreciating the treasures that you have. I feel like I have a "medium sized" family, since we only have 5. I always thought I would have a bigger number, but health issues took over. That's O.K. I'm happy with my family. I think you should be also.

But I think we can all learn from these bigger families. I appreciate people with convictions. I think we ought to work harder to love the bigger families around us. It's just plain hard work. If I were to think about having more children by way of adoption, you know my gut feeling would be: that sounds like a lot of work! So, I think we ought to give respect to those who have chosen a very hard path, in obedience to the Lord. Even if we do not agree, understand or like it, I think it is the right thing to be positive, pleasant and supportive whenever anyone announces a new baby coming. A new life has been created, and we should rejoice.

And unless someone asks you to foot the bill, there is no need to make any comment about the cost, the expense or the inconvenience of it. It's really not your problem. And if it is possible for you to smile and be friendly about the announcement of baby #4, or #6, or even #13, that would be fabulous also.


Jessie said...

I don't think I've ever posted on your blog before, but I've been a follower for quite a while (homeschooling + organization ideas drew me in), I hope you don't mind.

After I read this post, I couldn't help but respond--I, too, have a preschooler and a toddler and am expecting #3. I can't believe some of the comments I've received, and most of it has been family giving me a hard time about having 3 kids so close together, actually. I guess for some reason they feel like they can judge me more or something because we're close. It is very, very frustrating and disheartening. I agree with you 100%, though--a new life is a miracle and something to be celebrated every time one is created. I wish more people would think that way. I feel like, in this crazy world we live in, that good families should have more children (if they feel it is right for their family), because we desperately need more good people.

And mostly, I just want to yell at the people who give me a hard time--something to the effect of "someone had you!" Everyone deserves to be born. Thank you for this post.

Mrs. Parunak said...

Another brilliant "high brow" post!

"If having a big family does not teach you how pathetic you are without God, I'm not sure what will!"

Amen and Amen! I only have four so far, and I have already learned many times over that without God, I am extremely pathetic!

Gerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Herding Grasshoppers said...


And Amen.

Congratulations to you, Jessie :0)

And to OM's cousin.

We had our three boys fairly close together and it was pretty... um... busy for awhile. Well, heck, it still is :0) But I wouldn't trade it. Might've considered more but it wasn't possible. (We call our kids our "frozen assets"... my husband had cancer before we married.)

Even with "just" three - they do have a way of driving me to the Lord for help.


Herding Grasshoppers said...

The "amen" was directed toward the original post, BTW.

The Chatty Housewife said...

I have two friends going through the same thing- a toddler, a baby and a pregnancy. I couldn't believe it when they told me the comments that others had been making. After two children, it was "you are so lucky to be done at such a young age." After the announcement of the third on the way, it was "was it an accident?" What an awful way to think of something that is a gift and an heritage from God!

Anonymous said...

Gerry- glad you are expressing YOUR tolerance. Oh wait... you're not. Just because a mother wants to stick up for other mothers who are being criticized for their choice in number of children to conceive doesn't make someone intolerant. It takes guts to say things that need to be said and stand up for what is right. Posting a nasty comment and "publicly unsubscribing" from a blog sure seems to be the opposite of tolerant!

DarcyLee said...

I only have 4 children but I remember when I was pregnant with my 4th the comments that were made-some good, some not so good. I just don't understand the thinking, especially in Christian circles, about children. I love, love, love babies and would have had more if we could. Every life is created by God whether we think we have control over it or not. I love seeing big families, especially since they aren't as common as they used to be. Great post!

Jena Webber said...

Now fight nice, girls. Gerry, I feel like I hardly got to know you and now you're leaving so quickly. I realized that printing this might cause some controversy, and that usually generates some heated discussions. There's one thing for sure: people feel strongly about these things! Strong enough for a few of you to come out of the woodwork. If you suppose that I will write a lot of posts like this, I probably won't, because I hardly ever have high brow thoughts, and they aren't usually so opinionated. But I respect your decision to stop reading my blog. I took some risks there, and I acknowledge that.

For those of you who were encouraged, thanks for saying so also. If I write a post celebrating smaller families, will you guys stop reading also?

Kathryn said...

Ok, no one has mentioned it, but i think it is funny & ironic you give someone a "wide birth." That sounds painful! LOL (It is "wide berth," isn't it?)

Not having been blessed with children, i probably shouldn't comment. I always wanted a big family & now i find i'll be having none.

But i have heard similar comments to the ones you mention. I've heard a number of folks criticize others for their large families. (My sis has 6, so i'm sure she's come into her fair share of comments.) Somehow in our culture it has become so very unacceptable to have large families. It is not the gov't here (as in China) limiting families, but attitudes.

But, in our culture too, there are some folks who think they can criticize any mother for any choice. I've heard of mamas speak of being criticized in grocery stores for the way they were handling their children.

Somehow, some folks consider children "universal" in experience so that they feel free to critique any of the multitude of choices there are in parenting.

Jena Webber said...


Thanks for your comments. I was hoping someone without children wouldn't feel bad! The couple that introduced Will and I had no children, and they were such blessings to us. They had such a beautiful attitude and were not bitter towards God for not giving them any children! What a great example you are for those in your path! Thanks for chiming in.

sara said...

I seem to get a little bit of a "pass" because my three are all boys. Folks seem to make an allowance for a slightly larger family if you're hoping for one of the other gender. People ask, "So are you going to try for a girl?" Which is kind of a weird question for several reasons. Before my latest was born, more than one person, upon seeing my giant pregnant belly and my two boys beside me, said, "I hope this one's a girl!" I think that's kind of insulting to the children I already have.

Mindy said...

I thought it always horribley rude and insensitive when people would notice my grocery cart full of little kids and my previously always pregnant tummy and make comments like,

"Don't you know what causes that?"
"Boy, you've been busy."
"Are they ALL yours?"
"Were they planned?"

I couldn't believe it wasn't considered sexual harrasment to make public comments about my relationship with my husband.

I always wanted a big family, I love having a house full of kids, and I really don't care how many kids anybody else has. I have never dreamed about saying rude things, nor have I ever heard of anybody else saying such things as,

"So, what kind of birth control are you using to stop at ONLY two kids."
"Hey,with only two kids, you haven't been very busy, have you?"
"Where are the rest of your kids?"

Funny how the rude comments are only thrown at the big families.

I always tried to answer their rudeness with joy to show I loved and wanted my kids. All planned and loved six of them. I also referred to them as blessings from the Lord to give glory where glory was due.

Since I don't have to take them all shopping anymore, and we rarely are in public together, I am relieved from hearing those comments.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. And I have to admit I'm personally torn - not about how many kids we have, but in my attitude toward those close to us who have several children so close together (five in five years, for example). Yes, they are indeed blessings from the Lord. And yet, when a family rarely leaves home and the parents seem overwhelmed...well, I wonder if they should take a break for a bit. In the end, though, I have to remind myself that it's God who opens and closes the womb. If they need a break, I guess I can trust Him to give them one. =)

On another note - I think we need to make sure to rejoice over EVERY life that is created, including those to unwed moms. Sure, the circumstances might not be God-honoring, but that doesn't make the baby any less precious.

Jena Webber said...


I agree. I struggle with some of these things also. I know when I needed a break, and I guess I'll let others work it out also. Ah yes, unwed mothers who are pregnant right now need encouragement also. I send them a virtual hug wherever they are. Don't you think that mothers of any stage need encouragement? If they have grown children, or down to infants, the world is tough on mothers.

How did I ever think of taking on all of the world's problems by writing this post? What was I thinking?? LOL

Mrs. Parunak said...

Well, welcome to the controversy club. Nothing like a family size post to get you in quick, eh? Hugs! I think you handled it all with aplomb. :)