If you have more than the typical two kids and for sure if you have more than three kids, you have probably heard some bizarre comments. (I am being kind when I say “bizarre.”) I am amazed how people think they can negatively comment on the size of your family. Truly, it is a personal decision for each couple.
A friend of mine is in her ninth month of pregnancy with her fourth child. She just received an extremely rude comment from a bystander. My friend responded well on the spot but later shed a few tears.
I too have personally heard many comments that are definitely not polite. I’ve heard everything from, “You kept going ’til you had your girl (more innocuous but definitely not nice around my sons),” “Good thing they had a girl, or they would have kept going,” “Do you have any more at home?”, “Are these all yours?” and my family has been introduced to strangers with, “… and their million kids.”
Society currently considers two children as being the acceptable and standard number to have. If a family really likes kids, they might have three. Anything more than that, you must be overly religious or belonging to a specific religion (Mormon or Catholic). In such a current state of popular opinion, our family of four children is considered excessive. I want to laugh in response because I grew up, knowing quite a few large families. I babysat for some larger families (six kids or more). Some of my best friends came from larger families (7-11 children). The families seemed happy, got along fairly well, and were clothed, fed, and healthy.
If though you want a fairly quiet and controlled environment with limited arguments, a smaller number of children is definitely recommended. If you want to keep a higher standard of living, again a smaller number of children is recommended.
So, why do some of us have more than two children? Are we “gluttons for punishment,” uneducated (not understanding how children are conceived as people have said to some of my friends), or insane? Seriously, why do we have more than two? Our home is often full of noise, chaos, and disagreements between siblings.
For me, it is partially a reaction to how society seems to dictate everyone’s lives — even to how many children they have. I didn’t want to just do what everyone else does — as if we are the blind following the blind. I want to think for myself and to do what is right, regardless of society’s dictates.
Is there a specific number of children that is right or wrong? Absolutely not!
So, how do I decide on what is the right number for my family? Do I need to even decide? Is this my decision? I have friends that would argue that we don’t need to decide based on Scripture that says, “Be fruitful and multiply” and also “Blessed is the man who has his quiver full.” They would say we just need to trust God and that He will provide for every child He gives. There are also verses in Scripture that state that God opens and closes the womb, indicating that He is in control of the number of children we have.
God creates life. It comes from Him. Children are always considered a blessing in Scripture — not a curse. Death is a direct result of sin. Barrenness in ancient Biblical times was considered a curse.
Our early forefathers faced many challenges. Children were the heritage, the future of their parents. They were necessary for humanity’s survival against extinction. Infant and children mortality rates were high. It was necessary for parents to have quite a few children in order for the human race to survive. There was also the issue of having more hands to do all the necessary tasks it took to survive under harsh conditions. Children were the hope and future of their parents.
In the Western world, our culture is prosperous and can actually provide much better living conditions for future generations. Yet, in our culture, we actually have fewer children. In fact, studies show that most wealthy couples not only choose to have fewer children but actually are forced to have fewer children due to declining fertility levels.
The poor often have more children and greater fertility. I could definitely argue that some of the poorer are having children for all the wrong reasons (Welfare benefits, etc…) and many are not responsibly or lovingly raising their children. That is indeed a tragic scenario into which a lot of children are entering.
Yet, I am not one of those. I am married to my husband. My husband has an adequate job. We have a decent home — not extravagant but not poverty level. We feed and clothe our children. We spend one-on-one time with each of them. We do special things as a family.
So is that why we have more than two children?
Yes, I did want to have more than the average two children — just because I seriously dislike having my personal life dictated by society. I also wanted to have more than the average because I do believe children are a blessing. I also believe and have personally witnessed how God does provide for each of them. We don’t live prosperously but we live comfortably.
To be perfectly honest, my comfort level would probably be more like two children. I rarely ever, if ever, get stressed when I have just two kids with me. They are so much easier to handle/manage. It’s much more peaceful. Yes, I love my peace and comfort and quiet and order! So, why did I have more than two?
One reason I have more than two is because I realize that two is my comfort level, but four is my grace level. It is where God shows and teaches me every day to walk in grace. Grace is found in the imperfections of life, in the messy chaos. Grace is found when I am able to laugh when my natural and selfish response would be to be annoyed and angry.
Two is my comfort level, but four is my grace level…
My children have a way of teaching me what it means to walk in grace. I don’t think I could have learned grace any more perfectly than in walking through life with my kids.
All children have a way of teaching us about God’s grace. Any number of children we have — whether one or eleven have a way of teaching us more about God’s grace.
I may have more than two children, but my friends who are expecting Baby # 7 would think that I have very few children. A specific number of children doesn’t equate to a specific level of spirituality or spiritual maturity. I am not more spiritual because I have more children or because I have fewer children. I am not a better parent because I have more children or because I have fewer children.
Do my husband and I need to decide on how many we will have? Perhaps… Perhaps not… The issue is really our hearts. How do we perceive our children? Upon what do we base the number of children we will have or do have? Is it about control, fear (because we still think we are in control), selfishness, legalism, pride, etc…? None of these motivations are right. Neither will produce the fruits of the Spirit or are the fruits of the Spirit.
Christmas is drawing close, and I am reminded of the Christ Child, lying in a manger. I am also reminded of the verse in Scripture that says that whatever we have done to the least of these, we have done to the Lord (paraphrase). How much more “least” can we get then children — especially in a society whose laws rule them as “expendable”? As we gaze at the Babe lying in a manger, perhaps we can “welcome” Him by welcoming children into our own lives. They might be of our own flesh and blood or perhaps they will be through adoption or foster care. Perhaps, it will be by sending Christmas gifts to needy children in our own country or other lands. Perhaps, this year the miracle of Christmas is to be a miracle within your heart and my heart — the miracle of opening our hearts and our homes to some of the least of these. In doing so, we are doing it unto Him, the Christ Child.
Perhaps, this year the miracle of Christmas is to be a miracle within your heart and my heart…