Archive for February, 2013

Common Objections to Having a Large Family

Friday, February 1st, 2013

By Kristin

Ever since I was twelve years old, I wanted to have a large family. I was the second oldest of five children then, and I remember begging my parents for more siblings. When my mother became pregnant again, I can distinctly remember my parents’ apprehension about breaking the news to extended family.

Having large families is not “popular” in our day and age. Children, in large measure, are viewed as expensive, burdensome commodities, not the blessings that God says they are. Even within evangelical circles, family sizes are shrinking to just two or three kids. Every couple has their own reasons for limiting their family size, and I respect each individual choice. However, I would like to take the time to address some common objections to having large families, in hopes of persuading some to reconsider whether or not having more children is right for them.

 

Too Expensive

You’ve probably seen the figures, and they are enough to send you reeling: $100,000 to raise a child to age 18. One money sense website went so far as to pin the number at $243,660!

But raising children isn’t necessarily as expensive as we are led to believe. Sure, if you feel your children MUST have their own individual rooms with matching bedroom sets, wear brand name clothes, attend expensive daycares, play hockey, have extravagant birthday parties, etc., etc., then the figures mentioned above will probably reflect your total cost per head. But all that expenditure isn’t necessary.

Babies and children don’t care whether they are wearing brand name clothes, living in 5 bedroom mansions, surrounded by expensive furniture, or playing with the best toys on the market–they would be just as happy with a cardboard box! I grew up largely with second-hand clothing, modest birthdays, mismatched furniture, and no Christmas presents, and I don’t remember feeling “deprived” as a child. Neither does my husband, who grew up with somewhat less. We were fed and clothed, loved and cared for, and that was all that mattered. And I’m sure friends of mine from large families would say the same about their childhood.

 

Too Much Work!

It’s hard to deny: raising children does require a LOT of dedicated time, effort, energy, and sacrifice. As a mother and homemaker, I can assure you, it’s a full-time job–and with no paid vacations either.

At some level, this is a valid and important consideration. Pushing one’s self to the breaking point in order to honour an ideal is neither wise nor healthy. We need to honestly assess ourselves and our abilities. But at the same time, here are some questions to challenge ourselves with:

Are we clinging to unhealthy standards of perfectionism (e.g. immaculate house), and thus viewing another child as a “mess-waiting-to-happen”? Are we as women so caught up with our career ambitions that we aren’t giving family and children proper priority in our lives? Are we over-stretching ourselves in other ways that prevent us from having another?

Or, to look at it from another angle, are we failing to teach the children we already have to take responsibility and contribute to the economics of the family? Children take pride and joy in their work, it builds character, and furthermore it is a necessary preparation for their future. How can we expect to raise balanced, productive citizens if our children never lift a finger to anything beyond school-assigned paperwork till the day they turn 16? How can we expect our offspring to successfully manage their own house and children one day if we never give them the opportunity to learn nor train them in the necessary disciplines (e.g. cooking, cleaning, saving, planning)?

Think about it.

 

Not Enough Love & Attention to Go Around

This is a legitimate concern, but one that is plagued with misconceptions. For example, can you really claim that Baby Johnny, #10 in the Smith family, surrounded by loving and doting brothers and sisters, is “deprived” compared to little Jane, only child of Mr. and Mrs. Doe, whose parents are so busy pursuing their own careers that she only sees them evenings and weekends? Who is really missing out on love and attention here? Personally, I would much rather be in Johnny’s shoes than Jane’s.

This is not to suggest that a sibling’s love is a suitable replacement for a parent’s love. It isn’t, nor should any parent consider it to be. Children need the love and attention of their mother and father. But whether you have a family of four or a family of fourteen, the requirement is the same: you still need to make time for each individual child, and I would submit that this can be just as much a challenge for one-or-two child families in which both parents are working as it can be for large families in which the wife is a full-time mother and homemaker.

 

Why Bring Children Into Such a Bad World?

Let me ask this: What generation in the history of the world has ever escaped hardship? If peace, freedom and prosperity were preconditions for having children, then very few would have ever been qualified to become parents!

Consider for a moment how many great men and women of history rose out of difficult circumstances (poverty, oppression, etc.) to change the course of the future, not just for themselves, but for entire nations.

And consider what the Bible says. After Israel’s exile to Babylon, God sent word to His people through the prophet Jeremiah, instructing them to settle in the land of their captivity, and to–of all things–have more children (Jeremiah 29:6). God wanted them to increase in number in the midst of their oppression and hardship, not decrease. This is an example for all of us.

 

Overpopulation & The Carbon Footprint

First of all, overpopulation is not a problem in Canada. Nor is it a problem in North America, or Europe–or the world for that matter. Many countries are actually facing the opposite conundrum: that the birth rate is insufficient to sustain the economy or the culture. Russia and others are actually offering certain bonuses and incentives (e.g. great maternity leave, cash prizes, tax breaks, etc.) to try to encourage their citizens to reproduce.

As for those environmentalists who claim that having another child would be one “carbon footprint” closer to destroying the planet: their position is unbiblical. While God instructs us as Christians to be responsible stewards of creation, environmentalists take their tree-hugging to the extreme of being anti-human. They use propaganda and force to impose their population control agenda on people and nations, and attempt to suppress the economy through laws and regulations in order to achieve the “higher ideal” of protecting the rain forest or the whales. The objective appears to be: man must diminish, so the planet can flourish. This is a fool’s errand. As Christians, we are to care for and oversee nature in a responsible and sustainable manner, but the dominion mandate does not usurp our privileged position within God’s created order, nor does it trump God’s command to be “fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).

 

Conclusion

The Bible teaches that children are gifts from God (Psalm 127:3), and we as evangelicals need to adjust our thinking to reflect God’s thinking on this matter. Yes, there are important factors to take into consideration before we add another bundle of joy to our families–such as finances, health of the mother, work load, etc.–but we need to be careful that we are not allowing societal expectations and unbiblical philosophies to hold us back from accepting the blessings God is giving us. The fruit of the womb is His reward (Psalm 127:3).