Why Have More Kids?

"Why Have More Kids If You're Already Exhausted?"

Recently, on an older post about exhaustion, I received this comment:

“I don’t want to offend anyone but why do people keep having more kids if they are already exhausted with the 1 or 2 they do have?”

There are so many answers I could give, but for me, it all boils down to this:

Anything of value is exhausting.

Planting and keeping a garden.
Business ventures.
Writing and publishing a book.
Raising animals.
Developing strong relationships.
Maintaining a healthy body.
Learning a useful skill or earning a degree.

And yes, having and raising children.

A COMMON ATTITUDE, OFT-UNSPOKEN

I don’t want to come down too hard on this anonymous commenter, because I think this question comes from a common feeling in our culture. I’ve heard it asked from a variety of angles:

  • Why would you keep having kids if they’re so tiring?
  • Why would you have so many kids if it keeps you from owning nice things?
  • Why would you want more kids if you’re not going to be able to pay for them all to attend college?
  • Why would you have more kids when they’re so expensive?

We’re all fed these ideas from different sources. From our parents. From our friends…

…Even, sometimes, from our pulpits.

And certainly, from the media. Multiple times a year, Yahoo! presents me with a headline, wanting me to click on an article, that will give me some egghead’s latest calculations of how much it takes to raise a child. And it’s always an eye-poppingly HUGE amount.

As a mom of six-going-on-seven children, let me tell you how much kids cost: NOT THAT MUCH. Well, not after the first kid of each gender. And even the first kid of each gender can require a wildly divergent amount, dependent NOT on the child, but on the parent.

A child is just as happy to play in a 75 cent slightly-faded t-shirt from a thrift store as he is to play in an on-trend $35 one from Gymboree. He doesn’t care if his carseat, nursing cover, and playmat are decked out in the latest pattern, last year’s chevron stripes, or the geometric print with giraffes on it from several years back.

It is usually the parent’s preferences, rather than the child’s, that makes ‘having a child’ expensive or not.

BUT WHAT ABOUT HOW *TIRING* THEY ARE?

Yes, children are tiring.

You know, though, I still remember: I was tired after having my first. It took me about six months to feel anywhere near “normal,” and even then, it wasn’t the same “normal” I’d had before having him. I was tired. The workload was far more than I’d anticipated. The wear and tear on my body (which was larger than it had ever been) was considerable.

If I’d let being “tired” stop me, I’d have missed out (and the world would have missed out, and their future friends and spouses would have missed out) on the additional five-going-on-six wonderful people God has placed in our family.

  • Their humor.
  • Their creativity.
  • Their curious engagement with the world around them.
  • Their hard work ethics.
  • T[he way they bless our neighbors and friends.
  • Their unique skills and perspective on the world.

If “tired” was what controlled our decision-making, we all would have missed out on one-of-a-kind gifts from God.

There’s a parable about the “treasure hidden in the field”– the treasure is the Kingdom of God, and once the man finds the treasure, he does all he needs to do, selling possessions, and making whatever arrangements necessary, to obtain that treasure.

It’s like that with anything we truly value.

When you find something wonderfully valuable, tiredness doesn’t really have a whole lot to do with whether or not you pursue that thing.

  • When I wanted a degree in political science, sleepless nights of study and preparation didn’t keep me from it.
  • When we wanted to live in DC, the fact that the apartment we could afford required an hour’s metro ride and a 2-mile round-trip walk didn’t discourage us.
  • When we wanted to move abroad, the very real prospects of jet lag, culture stress, weariness, and raising our children without family nearby didn’t keep us from following through.

When we value something, we do whatever it takes. Exhaustion shouldn’t dissuade us from pursuing what is worthwhile.

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE ABOUT CHILDREN?

Much of this, honestly, comes back not to tiredness, but to what you think about kids.

And this isn’t a big-family thing. This is a heart-level thing for any of us to consider. Whether you have 0, 1, 5, or 25, how do you view children?

Here’s how Doug & I view them:

  • They are precious eternal souls.
  • They are each unique creations of God, created for His purpose and glory.
  • They are gifts from God that we must steward well, and raise with sobriety and humble dependence on God.
  • We are richer, having them in our lives, than we could ever be without them, whatever our financial state.

And the other truth, specifically about exhaustion, is this:

I was tired with one. I was tired with two. I was, perhaps, the most tired with four kids six and under. And now, yes, guess what?, I’m tired with six-going-on-seven.

But you know what? While my body is tired (and I think that’s true of most 34 year old moms, no matter the number of children in their home), my work load is LIGHTER now than it was when I was 6 years younger, with 2 less children.

How so? Because I’ve gotten better at managing the things God has given, and I’ve also trained up little people who are beginning to contribute to the home management, rather than solely being consumers.

The story is never over on your tiredest day.

God gives grace to the humble, and strength to the weary, and new mercies each morning. He deals gently with those who are with young. He has been so kind to us, and I’ve experienced His fathering and sanctification through these wonderful gifts He’s given.

Exhaustion, tiredness, is not the end of the story.

God… His mercy… His goodness… His sufficiency– HE is the end of the story.

MY ANSWER TO “WHY?”

These are some of the reasons why I keep having kids, even though I was tired with the one or two I had, and even though I’m tired with the (six) I have.

Though my human supply (of energy and money) is limited, my God supplies every need and gives such great joy through these children that He gives, that I am willing and even (sometimes) eager to have more. They are a treasure to me, and each one of them will (I pray) make eternal contributions to this world. Above all of that, my incredible, merciful God gives grace in my moment of need.

God’s grace, rather than my human exhaustion, provides the answer to this question. 

Thanks, anonymous reader, for asking an honest question, and for giving me the opportunity to contemplate more deeply the “whys” behind our choices.

 

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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345 Responses

  1. Kaitlin says:

    I love this!! I think you wrote the answer to this so well!! Not from a “large families are the only way” stance but from an honest and real stance about the why having kids (few or many) is not what our culture tell us it is!! I love where you put “anything of value is exhausting”. I never really thought about it like that before – well said!!!! Great post!!

    • Lena says:

      While I can appreciate your thoughts, my big issue with extra large families, is that ultimately, it is unsustainable. Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone decided to have 6+ children!? We are already outgrowing our planet. People used to have 5+ kids in a lifetime, mostly because they needed free labor, and because child mortality rates were so high. But nowadays, with vaccinations and healthcare, and food availability, it just doesn’t make sense. Think about minimizing your footprint, and yes, that means procreating less and using birth control. It is your choice, but it is a choice that ALL of us will have to live with eventually, and I’m sure God would agree with me on that one.

      • Jess Connell says:

        I’m so glad you raised this idea, Lena. I think I’ll write on this very subject soon.

        Thanks for sharing your perspective.

        • Laura says:

          The cities are crowded, the world is not. I read somewhere that all the people on the planet could fit, standing shoulder to shoulder, within the city limits L.A.

        • Jess Connell says:

          Here’s my follow-up article, for those who are interested:

          Large Families & Sustainability

        • Mary Castillo says:

          I think my problem is with moms who complain all the time about being a mom or about their children. My question would be “if you’re miserable, why have more kids?”

          But that question doesn’t apply to you!

          • Masked says:

            Very well said. That is what annoys me the most. I see mothers who complain day in and day out about how they can’t do this or that because of all their kids. I’m sorry but I have no sympathy for them and honestly they drive me nuts. But as you stated the OP of this article is obviously enjoying life overall with that many kids which is great!

          • Amanda says:

            I think your comment is absurd.

            Motherhood is hard, and it does have an effect on your ability to do the things you love. It’s absolutely ridiculous to expect parents to go without making a peep when their children present a very real obstacle to something. It’s even more ridiculous to assume that they don’t love or value their children simply because they’ve expressed some disappointment.

            I love cycling. There isn’t a bicycle in existence that I can safely load four children onto (or still be able pedal for that matter). Therefore, I don’t get to go very often. Is it worth missing out on a few extra rides because I have four kids at home? Definitely. But, it is still frustrating at times.

            I’m currently working towards a degree in biomedical sciences. For two semesters straight, I’ve had to drop nearly half of my credits because of child care issues. I can’t find a dependable babysitter! I can’t afford to pay for child care! Even with the college generously offering to foot the bill, none of their approved facilities in our tiny town have any openings. The entire reason I’m going to school is so that I can provide for my children better, the catch-22 being that they are part of the reason I’m having so much trouble getting it done.

            Children are a blessing. A huge one. They also come with many, many, many undesirable behaviors and logistics issues. Anything of worth does.

            As this article stated, kids are tiring. They’re also great for stressing and worrying over. Why would you ever expect someone to be a parent, and never have a complaint about the challenges that parenting presents?

          • Jess Connell says:

            Amanda,
            A few thoughts:

            (1) Actually… not to say YOU should do this… but there ARE bikes that can safely accommodate more children. Check out this article: http://bikeportland.org/2012/06/28/with-six-kids-and-no-car-this-mom-does-it-all-by-bike-73731 Like I said, NOT to say *YOU* should do this. But it is pretty remarkable, and if you wanted to bike, well, you technically could. :) …but not saying you should… :)

            (2) As Christian women, even though kids are “great for stressing and worrying over,” those aren’t actually biblical solutions for how to deal with motherhood. Not to be trite, just to say, I really do think this is the nitty-gritty of motherhood, where we take those thoughts captive and refuse to take on anxiety and fear and worry when we can actively choose to trust God with what we feel like being worried about.

            (3) Philippians 2:14 tells us to do ALL things without grumbling & complaining. So I actually DO think it’s possible to expect Christian women to be parents, and not complain. Not that imperfect humans will live up to that standard non-stop, but it ought to be our aim as believers. We really can see our hardships and challenges through the lens of Scripture and not ignore them, but not magnify & focus on them either. We can see them as tools in the hands of God to grow/mature/sanctify us, and be grateful even for the hard things.

            I know that sounds all big and philosophical, but the truth is that this is the nuts-and-bolts of Christian motherhood… what we think about and what we say.

            Thanks for your comment & addition to the convo.

          • Amanda says:

            The commenter above stated that she had “no sympathy” for people who complain about their children, which is a lot different than lovingly working with someone to get through the issues that parenting is presenting them.

            You quoted Philippians 2:14, one that I am very familiar with, having dealt with post-abuse PTSD and the anxiety issues that come with it. You also use this verse as your argument that Christian parents ought never complain.

            However, most translations of the bible actually use the phrase “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” The word complaining is nowhere to be seen, or when it is, it is stated as “complaining against God,” (which is an entirely different behavior). Other words used are: kvetching, disputing, disagreeing, reasoning, bickering, second-guessing, making trouble, doubting, and questioning.

            Furthermore, when read in context, the overall picture is of a society in which Christians are offering up love and biblical solutions for the complaints of humanity. Not ignoring them or offering lectures about “thankfulness” for those who have the temerity to say that they’re not happy with a situation that they’re in.

            This would not point to a parent who has expressed disappointment in her child’s behavior, but rather that we not argue and point fingers at one another while trying to find a solution for said behavior.

            Taking this verse and making it about simple complaining makes no sense. Even our very prayers are, in essence, complaints- “I’m not happy that I have cancer. Please change it.” Rather, I think the heart of it is more in how we respond to the challenges that we face.

            Do you believe that God would have us continually keep our mouths shut about the issues that we are having, in order to keep up a farce concerning the supposed perfection of our lives?

            Or do you think it more likely that he has no problem with the behavior of productively* expressing the complaint itself, but rather with the way that we deal with it, or even fail to address it at all?

            Unfortunately, most of the people that I run into are in favor of the former. It’s part of the reason that we have such an isolated society, anymore, and that just kills me. We were never meant to be so alone and disconnected.

            For the childcare, I’ve found a newer friend who is willing to watch my children next semester, without pay, until I get my tax return. She never would have known I was even having a problem had I not been willing to express my frustration to her in the name of “not complaining.”

            As for the bike, I’m hoping to buy an electric-assisted Xtracycle Edgerunner with the Hooptie attachment……after I graduate and have a job. 😀

            *I say productively, because I think complaining with no effort to fix the problem is included with negative ways to deal with our issues. Once again, though, that’s not so much having a complaint, as dealing with it poorly.

          • Jess Connell says:

            Good questions/thoughts…

            As far as this: “However, most translations of the bible actually use the phrase “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” The word complaining is nowhere to be seen, or when it is, it is stated as “complaining against God,” (which is an entirely different behavior). Other words used are: kvetching, disputing, disagreeing, reasoning, bickering, second-guessing, making trouble, doubting, and questioning.”

            To me, those are two sides of the same coin. Complaining in general (putting it out there for the ears of anyone around) actually is complaining against God.

            But here’s where you and I (I think) agree: When we gripe aimlessly, without attempting to fix the issue ourselves, and without actively participating with God to realign our attitude and perspective toward the one He has, that’s sinful complaining.

            I do think, when we address our complaints toward the people who can actually help us deal with them– toward God, toward a husband/parent/close friend that can be a truly helpful sounding board for us, directing us toward the right sort of ways to handle/address the issue– I don’t think that’s sinful.

            So complaining about our kids to the lady down the road, just to get a little “closer” in relationship or have a laugh over the garage sale table, is actually (in my mind) not a good thing. Depending on the words/context, it could be sin. Whatever the case, it’s certainly not filtering our words & thoughts & attitudes through Philippians 4:8.

            Complaining to our husband about an issue with our oldest child, or an attitude issue we see cropping up in the 5 year old, seems perfectly right… that we talk through the issue with someone who can actually help us properly frame and address it.

            Context matters.

            But for most complaints about children that I hear, these things aren’t legitimate efforts to try to deal rightly with parenting issues, or to get biblical feedback on how to handle x, y, or z. MOST complaints I hear about children are exactly what you mention– kvetching, questioning, complaining, criticizing… basic old discontentment in one’s situation. Most times when moms complain about their kids, they’re doing what they’d call “letting off steam,” “fuming,” “just being real”– which really amounts to, discontentedly complaining about life in some form. Which, in my mind, brings us back to sin.

            You’re presenting an either/or of “either I say it, OR I’m living in a farcical fantasy land, where nothing ever goes wrong.”

            I’m presenting it this way: We all live in a land full of sorrow, hurts, disappointment, discouragement, and unexpected challenges. No one lives in that farcical fantasy land. But we can each choose to be a woman who trusts God THROUGH the hurts and disappointments, and blesses His name right in the midst of them… or we can be a woman who complains about the hurts and disappointments, focusing on our great hurts and disappointments, rather than our great God.

            And I think our “little” complaints to the grocery store clerk, or to another parent in the bleachers, can do either one of those things… either point to God, or point to our crummy circumstances and how very hurt we are. The focus is different. The outcome of the comments is different.

            But neither has to point to a farcical fantasy land. None of us live in that place.

      • Caroline says:

        I ABSOLUTELY agree with you Lena.
        People are becoming a little bit too selfish and NOT thinking about sustainability AT ALL.

        • Jess Connell says:

          This comment makes me chuckle. There is no small amount of irony to me in the idea that the most selfishness-fighting thing in my life (having children– emotionally, physically, and financially– continually uncovers new bastions of selfishness in my heart) is thought of by some as selfish. I think we are (culturally and individually) losing sight of what’s good and valuable.

          The truth is, that the entire population of the world could fit in the state of Texas with the same density as NYC. We all make choices and it’s also interesting to me that the cultural god of tolerance applies to any lifestyle except that which looks the most like what family has looked like for centuries.

          As I said, look for an article on this topic soon. :)

          • So true. Not only that, but think about this: God gave the tiny strip of land called Israel to Abraham and his descendants, knowing that He planned to bless Abraham with a nation as numerous as the stars of the sky. Yet such a tiny plot of earth He gave him. Is it possible that the key to sustainability is MORE, not fewer, wise, hardworking people with determination to bless the land, not exploit it? Anyone who has ever tried to raise a garden understands just how much can be produced from a tiny piece of land. If the geographical boundaries God gave to Israel is sufficient (and Israel is blooming where desert was before the Jews came home), then why do we need to fear that more people will make such a detrimental impact?

          • Marissa says:

            I love that you use everything second hand and I bet you throw away much less food than the average family. I have one baby and your family’s footprint might be smaller than ours, but we are working on it. Also I love how large families typically live in small houses. The large families I know think outside of the box on how to reuse, sustain, and homestead. I think large families are typically the ones who could teach small families how to have a smaller footprint. My sister is having her fourth baby and is about to move into a two bedroom home. I live in a two bedroom home and people are always so surprised and curious of how it works. I only have one baby!!!

            Fan and friend of large families,
            Missy

          • Ashley N. says:

            I love how you respond with grace and a smile. I look forward to your upcoming article on the subject. This is also timely for me because I have three now and am asking myself whether I can “handle” more. Your post was a timely reminder to use the right metrics in measuring my life, and in planning for my future. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

          • JaLayne Grow says:

            Economists worldwide will tell you that population decline is a much more realistic threat to the world than overpopulation – http://www.demographicwinter.com
            – and fragile economies are also a more imminent threat to the world’s environments. Rampant deforestation, etc., etc., are all more common in underdeveloped countries than those with healthy economies.

            The full documentary is also available on youtube.

          • ksenia says:

            Sustainability is more than fitting people into a certain area. It’s about having enough food that is grown in sustainable way (meaning a way that can be maintained for generations), it’s about clean water, it’s about resources, it’s about limiting the spread of disease, etc. Most of the planet cannot sustain human life for any reasonable period of time. Learning a little about ecosystems, water reservoirs, food creation, and spread of disease will make you understand what people mean when they talk about sustainability.
            The reason some say it’s selfish to have a lot of kids is because you yourself said that you do it because it brings you joy and make your life “richer”. You do this for your own pleasure, and thus, it is considered, by some, a selfish thing to do.

          • Laura says:

            Children bringing joy to their parents is not selfish. Should we not, as parents, find happiness in our families? Take pride in them and our accomplishments together and independently? I cannot understand why a woman who has and enjoys having many children is more selfish than a woman who cannot or does not want to. In the end, it is the couple’s decision and no one else’s.

        • Elaine says:

          The only countries where population is growing are mostly located in Africa and then the country of India. In the USA, the population is stagnant, and is entirely collapsing in Europe & Russia, such that countries in Europe and the country of Russia are offering incentives to couples to have children. And everyone will not have 6 kids because most people don’t want to have 6 kids. Its not like its the fear of overpopulation is the only thing keeping most people from having a larger family.

          • Julie says:

            Well, also, not all people can have 6 kids. I have two and have been trying for years to have more. Trying and not succeeding. I have lost 4 pregnancies. One of those was in the middle of my second trimester. Some women are infertile from the get-go and can’t have any children. Some have one and then suffer secondary infertility. So those who are able to have 6+ children balance out with those who can’t have more. And there are plenty of women who a re choosing not to have more after their one or two, as well.

        • Gail F says:

          What is more sustainable, lots of houses and cars full of 1, 2 or 3 people, or one house with 8 people in it? What is more sustainable, the school my children go to (bused or driven tos school from houses all over the place) or the school my husband went to (full of lots of kids from the same families, many of whom walked to school or were bused from closer houses)? What is more sustainable, kids wearing hand-me-downs from their siblings and cousins or every child being driven to the mall constantly to buy all new clothes, most of them shipped here from across the ocean? LOTS of things about small families are inherently not sustainable, but few people think about that…

          • Jess Connell says:

            Great points, Gail. My article on large families & sustainability will post tomorrow. :)

          • Melanie says:

            Gail, exactly. I live right outside of Los Angeles where most people have 1 or 2 kids, and that’s it. Having 4+ is almost unheard of and you get stares and comments. Yet, these 3 or 4 person families have huge 2500sf houses, use crazy amounts of air in the summer to cool their houses, and yet IM the one with 4 kids that is unsustainable? Really? Our house is smaller than yours, we might use the water a bit more and eat more, but our van is the same size as the family with 2 kids! It just doesnt make any sense.

        • Cait says:

          Interestingly, nations where the average number of children is less than two are NOT considered sustainable. Those nations are struggling to take care of their elderly population and to take care of all the work to be done. A good example is Italy. I have a lot of Italian friends and they say the reason their country struggles financially is because no one thinks they can afford kids so not very many people have them!

        • Alex says:

          You’re right, people aren’t thinking about sustainability. The last time I checked, the average couple in Canada had 1.8 children… Talk about unsustainable. Good thing my mum has 7 kids who will be able to help her out in her old age, since by the time she’s slowing down, there’ll be fewer tax payers! My parents paid for our food, shelter and the bills that came with the house once we turned 13; we handled everything else ourselves. We would get 50$ month to pay for anything we wanted, but as soon as we got a job, no more allowance. My youngest sister is 6 and get somewhere between 50 cents and 1 dollar a month, so if she wants a toy, she saves for several months to get it. Each family is different, but this worked for us. I’m 18 so my mum has given me information on their budget, to help teach me. There have been months where they spend 200$ (sometimes less!!) on groceries, then all my working age siblings and I have had jobs so there was about 5 dollars paid in allowance to my three little sisters (205$), then electricity, gas, mortgage, and all the other things a family of any size has to pay for… If you’re talking space/time/money sustainability, we’ve got it! Since I was 13, my parents haven’t bought me a bike, a phone, a car, any bills on those things, clothes, shoes, toys, games, movies, anything. If we were short on cash and needed something, they could spot us, but they’d generally be paid back swiftly. Some people can’t have as many kids or don’t desire to, and that’s alright, I’ve certainly reaped the benefits of having a big family. I am hoping having had 5 younger siblings (most of them girls) prepares me for being a husband and father someday.

        • dinah bestebroer says:

          Thank You so much for the encouragement.Many young moms out there struggling.Bless your heart and may you continue to be a blessing to all moms

        • Brooke says:

          I totally disagree with this. Have kids was/is the most unselfish thing I’ve ever done (and always will be). For me, I have no doubt that Heavenly Father wants these little spirits in my home, no doubt at all. He has provided for us in ways I never knew possible before having kids, and is willing to do that with ANYONE. So no, I don’t worry about sustainability because I know I’m being taken care of and that one day, my own children will grow up to make great contributions to the society as well.

        • Sarah says:

          I have to wonder if the same people talking about extra large families being too much of a strain on the world’s resources, are also choosing not to use and waste electricity, not to drive cars or eat more than their “fair share” of food, subsist on basic and true needs (versus wants), etc to save our resources? Are resources valuable enough for you to make personal sacrifices in all areas of life? Or only in those areas that are convenient (or rather, inconvenient and difficult to deal with)? I find these comments on larger families being a drain to society and the world to be a pretty unfair/unfounded argument. As has been stated, many of the world *could* live in much of our dear United States of American (if only everyone was willing to cut down on their high standard of living). I would be careful to say what “God agrees with” especially when the Bible speaks nothing but highly of life and children.

      • Ann says:

        Children are a blessing and our future. Science can’t predict what God truly has in store for us all, so why not trust in God and step out in faith to live life as He intended?

        • Melanie says:

          Is as-many-children-as-possible what God intends for every woman? That’s what you seem to be implying. I’d love to tell you more about what two childbirths did to my body and then hear more about my lack of faith.

          • Natascia says:

            I think she is implying more to follow God’s plan for each of us individually. My plan is different from yours, and is different from Ann’s, etc. Since we’re not all just “cookie-cutter-people” God doesn’t have a “cookie-cutter-plan” (having “as many children as possible”, for example.)

      • Michelle says:

        This is a good article regarding small families vs. large families and their “eco footprint.”

        http://lifeyourway.net/children-in-bulk-are-big-families-eco-friendly-or-a-carbon-footprint-nightmare/

        • Jess Connell says:

          Thanks for sharing that link, Michelle. I had thought about it, but didn’t have the link on hand or the time to go searching for the right one. It’s a great “answer” to the question about large families & sustainability.

      • Amy says:

        Lena – Do a little research first.

      • Ellen says:

        This is such am interesting topic to me! I think it’s worth noting that not every woman has the same level of fertility. Even without some method of intentionally spacing births, not every woman is going to be able to have 6 kids.

        Also I like the perspective that most things worth doing are exhausting at some point.

        • Nicole says:

          I think this just supports the point. God does not send everyone 6 or 8 children. Everyone should, in an ideal world, just obey God and have as many as she has. Many times this is only a few kids. Other people have more. Variety is the spice, no?

          • Melanie says:

            In an ideal world, childbirth wouldn’t cause severe physical and/or emotional and/or mental damage to some women, even while leaving their fertility completely intact.

          • Jess Connell says:

            I agree, Melanie.

            I do think the complications that come from the fall of mankind into sin, and the downward spiral that produced in the entire world, need to be taken into consideration. There are many women whose bodies and minds are affected by the fall, and those things are realities, the same way that a migraine, a sprained ankle, whooping cough, or diabetes are real and genuine ailments that need to be taken into consideration when making future plans.

            As believers, I think we need to not disparage the ideal (that God loves and delights in children and that they are indeed a beautiful gift) but also not deny the reality of human bodies ravaged by sickness & illness, nor the reality of human minds left frail and vulnerable by mental illness, abuse, chemical issues, and more.

            These things require wisdom, discernment, and grace, as we discuss them. Thanks for coming back to add more thoughts!

      • Jessica says:

        You could turn that around though and say the same thing about childlessness. “Can you imagine what the world would be like if no one ever had children? The human race would go extinct! Therefore, it is wrong for anyone to choose to remain childless (or childfree, if you prefer).” It’s bad logic. Many choices would be disastrous if every single person in the world made the same choice. Choosing to become a doctor, for instance, is a great choice, but what would happen if everyone chose to become a doctor? Society would fall apart without people willing to do any other jobs. Fortunately, people are diverse enough where that is not going to ever happen, so I don’t see why anyone should have a large family or not based on what would happen if everyone had a large family because it’s never going to happen that everyone has a large family.

        • Lorie Warr says:

          Great thought! Everyone just has to do what works best for them while being good stewards of whatever it is they have. (And attempt to be judgment-free in the process) Things tend to work out even when every little detail of humanity isn’t under severe scrutiny and social control.

      • SR says:

        I have to agree with this. I think that having child after child after child is pretty selfish, honestly. If you cannot afford to give each child the best start possible- you are only having them to fulfill your own desires. I wholeheartedly agree with the thrift store clothing, trendy vs practical view, but sending them to college it almost necessary in our society. I believe ignorance breeds ignorance. Given the current poverty status in our country alone, not educating your child leaves them with either a mountain of school loans or a job for minimum wage and very few promotional opportunities. Kids are definitely a gift from God, but He also gave us a brain to choose wisely. There is also the strain it puts on others when your family asks for help. Whether it’s asking for hand-me-downs, or babysitting help or even just help to get 5 under the age of 7 to the dentist on time – it becomes an obligation to others. I believe to each his own, but I truly think people should not be so selfish. I would have 10, but it’s not fair to each child and not fair to my marriage or my husband’s attempt to retire and have any sort of golden years together. Not condemning, at all. Just a different perspective.

        • Jess Connell says:

          SR,
          I doubt anyone with a large family could read your post as “not condemning, at all.” By your second sentence, you’ve called anyone who has more children than your two “pretty selfish.” That’s a pretty far cry from “non-condemning,” LOL, and comes quite close to setting yourself up as the authority and measure of what is selfish and not, what is reasonable and not for others to decide upon for their own families.

          That said, you made one point that I want to refer to: “sending them to college is almost a necessity in our society,” and that point is one that many people– secular and sacred alike– are rethinking. Many people are saddled with debt, have a degree, and yet lack jobs. Many people find that they could’ve made far more money with far less sinful regrets (from the college party scene) and far less financial regrets (from the burgeoning cost of universities) had they gone to trade school and obtained a skill-based certification.

          You also said “ignorance breeds ignorance. Given the current poverty status in our country alone, not educating your child leaves them with either a mountain of school loans or a job for minimum wage and very few promotional opportunities.” Here again, I believe you are overlooking many other options besides an unnecessary dichotomy of college or poverty.

          Yes, college degrees are beneficial for many. But they are not the only way. America is awash with degreed graduates who can’t get anything but a minimum wage job and aren’t choosing to (or cant) do more than live at home with mom and dad in the basement/spare room. You are presenting an untrue either/or that, for a short season in America’s history, worked well, but no longer is the case. It’s not, unfortunately, as easy as “go to college, get a good job, OR don’t go to college and be a struggling ignorant fool.

          And I also want to point out that the implied/expressed point that it is the obligation of the parents to send the child to certain forms of education (like private school or college) has been recently struck down in courts in the East Coast, when highly-expectant (spoiled?) children have tried to intimate that exact thing. Courts, the proof of history, and common sense, all come down on the side against parents needing to be the ones to pay & provide for their kids’ college educations.

          Paid-for college is a blessing for those who have parents who can do so, but it is no guarantee of a job, OR a well-educated child (ask all the people who started, or even completed, college but fratted and drank their way through the diploma, or who were never cut out for an academic life to begin with and have found that the diploma doesn’t lead to the kinds of employment for which they are built/bent).

          We all need to look at the things we are pursuing and be honest about the real costs and desires. On all sides. But since “my” side has been to present my point of view without condemnation toward smaller or larger families (and judging by the comments, I think that has been relatively successful in the way I’ve discussed this issue), I’d ask for the same courtesy from “your” side.

          I’ve heard quite enough of the “having a large family is selfish” line of thought.

          There is zero chance you are going to persuade me of that, beings that I’m the one living that life and know the realities herein.

          I appreciate your candor, but ask that you’d refrain from such large-scale judgments in any future replies.
          Jess

          • Katherine says:

            Thanks so much for your article and comments. We have six children going on seven and when people ask why we have so many I just have to be honest and say that we are trusting our lives and bodies to the Lord. There is no selfish motivation behind it.
            When I read about how many children are being aborted around the world and read articles written by those promoting these murders the Lord reassures me that with every child we have, His glory is proclaimed. I think that anyone who believes that the conception of a child and birth of that child could ever in any way be anything but the hand of God, that they have been deceived.
            I would suggest that if anyone is offended by large families that they should take up the matter with the Lord who is the creator of all because it is not by the will or authority of any couple to create life on their own.
            Thanks again for your encouraging words

          • Adina says:

            It’s only selfish if you make babies that you don’t properly care for. Clearly those who have large families on purpose are doing well at being good stewards of their ‘gifts’ of children. It’s their family and I don’t see anything selfish about wanting a big one if you decide that is a good plan for you and both parents agree. And if you are able to find baby sitting and help then nobody’s freedom is invaded. Nobody has to give help unless they want to give it.

            I’m not a ‘big family’ person. I don’t believe the same theology as many of these families do. But I have NO problem with a family wanting lots of children if they are giving adequate care to those children. Which it seems mostly is the case (I say ‘mostly’ because I’m sure there are those with lots of kids who aren’t necessarily good parents…leaving room for error). I don’t think it’s selfish, I think it’s preference.

          • Britt says:

            Well put. The presentation is really not evidence based but anecdotal based (if that) and I don’t respond well to those types of arguments. Though college was an import part of my education, I don’t want my kids to feel forced into it. I have a masters in counseling and if my daughter decides to go to medical school and be a Dr, awesome! If she decides to be a beautician, fabulous! Whatever she decides it’s not fair for me to decide (for her) that her potential career path is more important than her having siblings. To me, that would be selfish. If we have more kids it’s because we would feel the call from the Lord not because we have a out of proportion idea of what the future of the educational system of this country might be. A fact about education is that the unemployment rate of bachelor degreed young people in our country is up, rather than down. And the amount of debt among that population is way up. I don’t feel the need to give a study because many a reliable current study is showing this. The argument of sending kids to college being more important than having children is not based on current stats and trends among population analysis. Perhaps arguing that having more children raised in broken abusive homes is unwise and harmful to society would have been a better argument against multiple children families. Those stats are also abundant. However rants without statistical based logic are what the Internet is full of. Thank you for being a blogger who does not do this.

          • Amy says:

            Well said! I have a college degree and a mountain of debt. I would have had to go to yet more school and acquire more debt to get a job that would have paid a decent salary. As it is, the job I’m in doesn’t require a college degree and yet pays better than most jobs in my field for entry and mid-level workers. My friend graduated with the same degree over seven years ago and can’t find a job in her field that doesn’t require a higher degree. She is currently starting temporary work in a call center that anyone out of high school can do. That is the sad state of our society. The truth is, college really doesn’t seem to prepare students for real work anymore. It just gives that well-rounded education in many fields that kids used to have by 14.

          • Jessica M says:

            Love your reply and agree 100%!!

        • Lorie Warr says:

          My parents had five kids who they couldn’t afford to send to college. That’s when a little thing called a job came in handy. We all got one and put ourselves through school because we each had the desire to get a degree. This also motivated us to do well in school and get good grades so that we could earn scholarships. I feel this benefitted us in the long run, both by giving us a good work ethic and appreciation for what we had (as opposed to many of our college friends who squandered their educational opportunities on their parent’s dime).

          • GM says:

            My husband’s parents told their TWO boys, they wouldn’t be able to pay for their college, and if they wanted a higher education they needed to work for it. My husband did, so we do have some student loans debt but we’re managing just fine. My father in law is a veteran retired from the Navy and his check would have never allowed him to send his two kids to college. Just an example so you know that sometimes a small family is NOT able to send their kids to college either, yet it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. These children will become adults who will be able to (hopefully) work and make their own lives. We tend to generalize based on experience or research, but as always, and as in everything, there are exceptions to the rule and uniqueness, and also, God calls us all to do different things. To say that ALL families would be large families is an exaggeration. To say that all children from large families whose parents can’t afford to send them to college are ignorant is another exaggeration. College degrees do NOT guarantee education, I know, I worked at a university. I saw countless young man and woman waste money and be just ignorant as well. Let’s give each other grace!

        • Rachel says:

          That is a legitimate question. I am one of 6 kids, and my parents didn’t pay for any of us to go to college, but we all have college degrees. We worked hard at jobs, got scholarships, and paid our own way through. It was hard, but we all did it and all graduated debt free from college. Some of us have gone on to graduate degrees as well. We all worked hard b/c we saw our parents work hard. I think it was a great way to grow up. :)

          • chelsey says:

            Thanks for sharing your experience! This is the outcome any parents would hope for and WORK HARD to achieve! Hope my kids learn that education is a privilege and something to work hard for. Just saw “The Good Lie” about the Sudanese refugees and was refreshed by their determined spirit to become educated when they were presented even the remotest of opportunities. I am a definite believer that if you work hard to be in college, you will work hard and be successful in your classes, perhaps more so than if your college education is handed to you on a platter.

        • Elisabeth says:

          I can’t help but notice how many assumptions you make, SR. You assume that parents of larger families will not have money for college and will need more help. You also assume that they will continually be asking others for help with things like hand-me-down clothing, babysitting, and even getting to places on time. You seem to assume that parents of larger families will need a larger amount of help from the community than others. While this may be true that money is tighter, it is not true universally.

          There are large families that do not struggle with money. There are small families that do struggle with money.

          Most families that wear hand-me-downs never have to ask for them. In a prosperous country like America, there are always people looking to give away what they no longer need.

          There are large families that do not struggle with efficiency and promptness. There are small families that are continuously late and/or without supplies.

          I am confused on why it would be unfair to your children or your spouse that other children exist. I also do not understand why having joyful relationships will make your golden years less fulfilling. In fact, many of the conversations I have had with my senior friends are all about what their children are doing.

          While you are offering us a different perspective, you may want to think it through better. Your perspective seems filled with stereotypes. It also seems more judgmental than you were probably intending.

        • Heather says:

          SR, I’m so glad my parents didn’t think that way. I’m the second oldest of a family of eight children, and my dad’s salary was under $50,000. And guess what? It can be done, and done well. We never lacked for anything truly important. We had a home full of warmth and love, we learned to reuse, be thrifty, share things, and appreciate second hand stores. And you know what? Out of the 8, 6 of us have university degrees and have paid off our loans through saving and working hard. And of the last three, two are currently attending university and one has plans to do so after high school. My parents’ contribution? Free room and board if we lived at home, plus gas costs. Paying our own way didn’t hurt us at all. In fact, it made us value our education, work hard at passing our courses, and be more committed at our jobs after we graduated. God did indeed give us brains to choose wisely, and we were raised to use them– and not only to use them but to do so for His glory!

          As for being a burden on others, we rarely had to rely on others. My mom was a hardworking SAHM, and really, things like appointments can be worked out around husband’s time off, school hours, etc. Babysitters were occasionally paid for, but often the older kids could help out that way.

          And as for the “golden years”– my parents have a MEGA celebration to look forward to when they retire, and will have no lack of loving children to care for them as they age– it will be our turn to repay them with the love, sacrifice, and dedication they showed us in the hard work of raising us.

          P.S. I am now a proud mama of five, going on six, and so thankful to the Lord for my parents’ godly and loving example.

        • Amy Davis says:

          My husband is an only child and still his parents were not able to pay for his college education. So he got a job and WORKED his way through college. He is the man he is today because of it and I am thankful for the way his parents raised him. I, on the other hand, am one of 10 children. No, my parents couldn’t pay for college but those of us who wanted a college education worked our way through and all of us are happy, hard working, contributing members of society.

          • Amy Davis says:

            Oh, and having multiple children doesn’t make you selfish at all! My parents are the most unselfish people I’ve ever known.

        • selfish mama of 6 says:

          Wow! Mine got the best start possible…all were breastfed till they self weaned. I even exclusively pump fed the one that could not nurse due to health problems (paid for by our own insurance, not other people). *I* take all 6 (under 9) to the dentist, and school, and soccer, and grocery shopping, and the library on time, by myself. It requires mom to be an adult and manage time and scheules, not community help. If I have help it’s because grandma is missing the kids and initiates the offer to come along. I’m an earth loving all kinds of hippie Mom. We have zero food waste (even have chickens in the backyard to eat produce scraps), hand clothes down rather than buy. We have NEVER asked for hand me downs! When people ask if I use them I don’t lie and say yes. Whether they want to pass them on or not is completely up to them. Again, they initiate it not us asking. We use our stuff up before it’s gotten rid of. Waste of anything doesn’t happen in our house. My husband and I both came from small families (2 in his, 3 in mine) and WE put ourselves through college WITHOUT student loans or help from others!! Maybe these pansy kids need to learn how to work hard so they don’t need mommy and daddy to pay for them. We pay babysitters 10 bucks an hour! Again, just because a family is large doesn’t mean we expect free babysitting. Our family is a pretty good gig for a teenage babysitter. On top of that my kids are MUCH more independently capable than their coddled peers that can’t even carry their own freakin’ backpack! I’ve donated a TON of hours of service, work, and repair to their pre-school and elementary school on top of managing a household of 8 and working part time. They were not had to fulfill my own desires, we LOVED being child free yuppies, but they are here and we fiercely love them with every fiber of our beings!! *WE* are raising them to grow up and be contributing members of society. Have no worry, though, not condemning your really warped view of large families or anything…smh

        • Samantha says:

          I resent the implication that a life without education may as well not exist. I was an only child, and there was no way my parents could afford for me to go to school. So, I worked my butt off and put MYSELF through school. And I ACED every class – as a 24-year-old who had finally saved enough money, and I ran across very few 18-year-old 1st years whose parents were clearly footing the bill who did the same. Not to say it’s necessarily wrong to pay for your child’s education, but despite the fact that I only have 2 children, and can probably already afford to (because, you know – I knew how to work for my own life and not depend on Daddy’s money), I don’t at this point intend to put them through college or Uni. I want them to learn independence and develop a good work ethic, which I don’t see in younger people (I’m 30, FYI) today. And I’m certainly glad that my father didn’t decide that because he couldn’t afford to put me through school – that my life was somehow not worth living.

          • Jess Connell says:

            Wow, Samantha. You’re right on.

            The implication that parents “owe” their kids an education or else shouldn’t have them does indeed imply that most of the world should not be having children at all. Very elitist indeed, and I didn’t even pick up on the inherent implication in that argument.

            And this?
            “I ACED every class – as a 24-year-old who had finally saved enough money, and I ran across very few 18-year-old 1st years whose parents were clearly footing the bill who did the same.”
            It’s so true… many who have the bill completely paid for do devalue it in a way that those who have worked/scrimped/saved for it do not tend to do.

            Thanks for adding your thoughts to the discussion.

        • Maggie says:

          SR,

          What makes you think that large families are ignorant or uneducated? I would be very interested in a single statistic that backs up your (ignorant) assumption. It has been my experience as one of 12 children that every single one of us went to college. Many of us have postgraduate degrees, in fact.
          Being from a large family was a boon to my education. My third grade brother taught me multiplication when I was in kindergarten- because I saw he was learning it and I wanted to emulate him.
          My large-family childhood contributed to the work ethic that got my 3.8 GPA and scholarships that paid for most of my education. It also taught me to put others above myself and has ultimately led to a blissful marriage of ten years and my own sweet 5 children. (Who will all have the opportunity to go to college along with any more children that I hopefully will be blessed with.)

        • Kittalia says:

          I’m a senior in high school and the oldest of five kids. My parents have made it clear that I can’t expect one penny for college, and I’m fine with that. I’m planning on going to college next year and graduating without debt. I’ve taken or am taking 10 AP or Concurrent classes (classes I can get college credit for) through high school and have most of my generals taken care of. I have kept my grades up. I studied for twenty plus hours before the ACT and brought my score up to a 35, so that hopefully I can get a scholarship. I did all this because I wanted a good future, with minimal pressure from my parents. Having lots of siblings taught me to work hard and take my future into my own hands, and left me a much better person than if I’d been an only child with my parents putting all their effort into training me up like a bonsai tree.

        • Ana of the Nine+ Kids says:

          I think it is important not to assume that children from large families will not go to college simply because their PARENTS won’t (or can’t) pay for it. My husband and I both graduated from college but paid for it ourselves through full and part-time jobs and scholarships. We did have some student loan debt when we finished but that was mainly because we chose for me to stay home with our children while he finished his degrees. (He graduated with a master’s degree soon after our third child was born. I finished up my degree right around the time our first–a honeymoon baby came.) We were careful after we left school and so were able to pay our loans off within two or three years. (And FYI, we did it without relying on programs like medicaid, although we did receive pell grants.) Now (20 years married) we have ten children of our own, ranging in age from 2 to 19. We have let them know that we will not pay for their educations so our older kids have worked summers and saved and done their best to get scholarship worthy grades (each of our kids have come just short of 4.0s while being very involved in band and XC and other school activities.) They may have to work part-time while in college as well as full-time in the summers but that’s okay. They will be that much more invested in their own education. My belief is that where there is a will and faith in God, there will ALWAYS be a way.

        • Anonymous says:

          Wow, tell us how you really think. Not condemning? Your thoughts are very reflective on how you might handle a large family. It’s not right or fair for you to project your own inability on others. Also, if you want to talk about selfish, maybe consider whether it is more important for you to work hard your whole life and honor God in raising up little people who will bring honor to Him in a world where that is increasingly less common, or to be comfortable in your golden years.

      • Angela says:

        With all due respect, overpopulation is a myth. Read this article http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/09/14/opinion/overpopulation-is-not-the-problem.html?_r=0

      • Karen says:

        Lena, are you saying God would agree with you about having less children when he clearly says in His Word, “Be fruitful and multiply” and “Children are a heritage from the Lord” and a “reward”??? May I also point out that God is replacing this whole world with a new heavens and a new earth when Jesus comes back. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do what we can to take care of the earth for future generations… I’m just saying that people should be our primary concern, and having more people in the world is not a bad thing. Each one of those souls has the potential to give glory to God in eternity.

        • Melanie says:

          Keep in mind that “Be fruitful and multiply” is a blessing for the human race, not a command for every person in every circumstance ever.

      • Shawn French says:

        I guess the ultimate answer is one of faith: We worship and serve a God of abundance not of scarcity. We have 5 and a sixth on the way. We are not among those who say everyone should have a large family, but we acknowledge that life comes from God. The arguments about failing resources and scarcity have been around for at least 200 years when Thomas Malthus began claiming population would be checked by disease and famine. So far, there have been no more disease and famine other than what has been common throughout history.

      • Kristin Sailors says:

        We are not outgrowing the planet. That is a lie that has infiltrated our minds….a lie. If the ENTIRE world population was gathered into one place, standing shoulder to shoulder, we would ALL fit within the 500 sq miles of L.A. If the ENTIRE world population was laying down and not touching, we would ALL fit within Jacksonville, FL. Just FYI. Don’t believe the lie.

      • Althea says:

        God has provided this planet for all the souls he wishes to put here. He is in complete control of the earth and maintaining it. There is absolutely no footprint or damage you can save to this planet that is more important than even one soul to our Heavenly Father. He has put the Earth here for his pleasure to provide you and our children with a home. If you believe in Him as the Creator, then you know that He is fully capable of maintaining the Earth without any help. Love all the children near you. Encourage all the mothers who are willing to bear them, love them and teach them about God.
        Blessings,

      • The world will never be over populated because God will not allow that. If you drive around SA; say from Johannesburg to Cape Town; you will understand why. We have vast open land that is not inhabited and with the pandemics that occur like the Ebola for instance; so many die and in SA I recon 80% of the population have TB and aids. These are diseases that we cannot stop. It kills millions a year and in any case only about 5% of educated people will have many children as they are more interested in making money than living a healthy God fearing life. The rest of us can have as many children as we like because God will provide. God always looks after His children who obey His Commandments and who believe in the Gospel.xm

      • Jo Flemings says:

        Actually, God’s opinion is very different from yours, Lena. In the Bible over and over again God gives two things as a reward- children and Himself. In Psalm 127 the writer waxes eloquently about the virtue and value in a large family- ‘children are like arrows in the hand of the warrior, blessed is the man whose quiver is full!’ Creation is under man’s stewardship and dominion- we bear responsibility for ourselves and others- the world is more than capable of sustaining a population increase according to the dictates of the Lord and Giver or Life, in Whom we profess every Sunday out loud as a crowd to believe.

        The earth is raped by sin, and hindered by selfishness and those of us in the west are the greatest offenders there- it is not by bearing children; it is by greed and selfishness. The fastest and shortest course on breaking the grip of selfishness is through marriage and childbearing; and women are the choice instructors for these lessons.

        Having children doesn’t cost a lot, it costs everything. It is the Passion of Jesus and His Resurrection and Ascension all rolled into one huge adventurous gift of life- and having an extra large family- (as the mother of 13 I am chuckling at what number makes it all the sudden eXtra Large!?)- is a sign of hope. Fraught with difficulty, challenges and suffering at times, it is also filled with joy and fun and happiness- because love increases with life- and love is worth living for, even when you have to grab it by faith in the sacrificial moments.

        God speaks over and over again His word about how much He values the children He gives and every life is a gift from God, even those who end up consigning their eternal souls to hell- so the judgement call on who is or is not worthy- is not ours to make. I do not even believe that the timing of the entry of lives in to the world is ours to make- we can and should choose when to have sex, based on God’s will for our lives in the moment- that is the only choice He expects us to take full responsibility for. If a child results, well, praise His holy name, now we will all rise up to be the men and women He calls us to be and the stewards of His supreme creation according to His will as He leads us. When we get this right, we won’t be afraid of anything any more- not of suffering, not of hardship, not of sacrifice and not of death, least of all, of children.

      • Dan says:

        Lena, I am saddened by your comment, although it’s not the first time I’ve heard it. To think that having more children per family is going to hurt the planet is completely opposite to historical facts. Every country that has limited it’s children has not flourished bit has died. Children bring hope and prosperity to a country and the world. Imagine if families in the past limited their children to 2 or 3 kids. We wouldn’t have seen incredible people like Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln and miriads or other world changing people who were well after 5 or 6 in birth order.

        Also, in the case of birth control, please understand that 98% of all birth control products do not just simply prevent conception, but they typically kill a “fetus” after conception. Even if it’s minutes or days after, it’s still a death of a child.

      • Melissa says:

        I’m not so sure God would agree with that one. Have you read what He has to say about children? What’s not sustainable is kids growing up with a sense of entitlement and not contributing to the world .

      • Douglas says:

        He commands us to be be fruitful and multiply.
        We are also to be stewards of this earth. Use the resources God blesses us with responsibly.

        You cannot be pretty sure God would agree with you when His word directly goes against what you say. Children are a gift from God. Regardless of what YOU think will happen He will bless those who raise His children in His name. Regardless of what has happened in this world and what is happening that should not deter us to abstain from His will.

      • SecondJon says:

        Overpopulation has been a concern for a while. Recently, however, populations haven’t been growing at the same rate. For the first time, it took longer for the human population to notch up another billion people to the total. Check out the news about global population growth. The scientific studies from the last few years shows it not to be a problem.

        Meanwhile, with birth rates plummeting in Europe and North America, entire cultures are becoming unsustainable with each generation producing fewer people.

        • Jess Connell says:

          Meanwhile, as western/American/European/Russian & Asian birth rates are declining, watch this 7-minute video I saw on FB today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-3X5hIFXYU (Heads up: it’s more than a touch overdramatic, but the data itself is helpful for understanding the world population issue.)

          Truth is, overpopulation is not a concern. Having ENOUGH population growth is a concern. China is an excellent case study for this. Very soon, they are going to reach a tipping point where there are more elderly people needing care than young workers to support them. Thankfully, they have a VERY family-centered culture that will help with this challenge. Their young people expect, and consider it an honor, to help provide for their grandparents and parents in their old age.

          Americans and Europeans, on the flip side, have increasingly distanced themselves from care of the elderly, but our population is barely — BARELY — hovering at a flat replacement rate. At this rate, social programs designed to care for the elderly (that have been built on more fruitful/fertile family models) will begin to fail because there will be inadequate workforce and capital to support the top-heavy age strata that will exist.

          Those who speak about overpopulation aren’t understanding the current demographics whatsoever. The concern in the 70s was overpopulation. At this point, we are facing a dwindling ability to care for our elderly (and that situation exists alongside skyrocketing costs & increasing expectations of care), and the prospect of a dwindling economy, worldwide, except for Muslims who are virtually the only population continuing to reproduce at a rate above replacement rate.

          There is much to consider on the issue of population, but overpopulation in the western world (or Russian, or European, or Asian) isn’t remotely a reasonable concern.
          ~Jess

      • Nicole says:

        Just visit pop.org. The world is not overpopulated. That’s just a myth perpetrated to keep us clueless. Really.

      • Chris says:

        Dear Lena,

        I wholeheartedly disagree. I think perhaps one thing that might be helpful to consider is that children may grow up to find all sorts of more efficient and effective ways to help us use the resources on our planet. They may find cures for diseases, how to make plants produce more, or even how to colonize outer space. I think the only real limited resource is our imagination……(by the way, other economists in years priors thought billions of people on the planet was unsustainable too, and they’ve been proven wrong).

      • Laura says:

        But not “everyone” DOES have a large family. Hardly anyone in this country does, so I really don’t think this is something to fret over.

      • Mary V says:

        Overpopulation is a myth! People are more than a carbon footprint or a mouth to feed! People are minds and hands to innovate and solve problems. World hunger has vastly declined over the last 50 years, even as population has doubled. Do a Web search on Julian Simon.

      • Jessica says:

        You cannot be against large families with reasons that you are giving-they are completely ignorant and invalid.. First of all, not everyone will have 6+ kids. It’s not for everyone-its for certain people. And, just think, there are so many women that cannot have children and many women who abort children. People are dying younger and younger b/c of cancer etc. I am pretty sure you don’t need to worry about other people overpopulating our country our our world. And who are you to say it’s unsustainable? Do you have 6+ kids? My guess would be no. And my guess would be you don’t know this woman. I’ll put money on the fact she doesn’t use government assistance, and even if she did, I know NUMEROUS out there who use government assistance with ONE child. Not to mention, big families contribute to society. The government makes money off her kids with healthcare and immunizations. Grocery stores, chothing stores, housing, pretty much EVERYONE benefits from her large family. No one benefits from your ignorance.

      • Kay says:

        If God didn’t want us to have children He wouldn’t allow it to happen. We do not need birth control. If somehow there became too many people on this earth, God would take care of it! He created it, remember? So I guess I don’t agree with your thoughts. He said many times to be fruitful and multiply. And I do not remember Him ever taking back that command!

        • hmm says:

          If God didn’t want x, he wouldn’t allow x is as spurious as claims come. You could say the same for theft, murder, abortion, etc. Or even for ways we don’t take care of the earth — allowing animals to go extinct, ruining the ozone, destroying the rain forest, etc.

          If one were to live with an unconstrained responsibility to multiply, one’s life would look quite different.

      • Jacqueline says:

        I’ll be interested to hear your input, as I’m so tired of hearing this lame excuse. Seriously, we are already killing the planet with out lack of use of renewable resources. What I find, most often, are the large families are making smarter choices, that are more planet friendly, and the smaller families are making giant sized footprints.

      • Joy says:

        I so disagree with you about how God would feel. Just my personal opinion

      • Olvia says:

        Hi Lena,
        While I understand what you are saying we actually need more families to have more kids. The U.S. has a birthrate of 1.6 (or something close to that you can look it up for the exact amount). This is unsustainable. We have more people dying than we have being born. If we don’t start having more children our population will be severally depleted within the next few decades.

      • Mariann Adams says:

        As a mother of 6, AMEN. The work and other “costs” are nothing compared to the richness and joy of having children. Sustainable is a myth. First, the populations of many countries are so low they are unsustainable and second crop production has skyrocked with new inventions in the past decades. There is enough and to spare.

      • private says:

        I agree that we do have much better healthcare, more food, and less sickness due to vaccinations. How does that mean we should have less kids though? We are definitely not outgrowing our planet. We have here in the US enough food to feed the entire planet. And we have not even begun to mine the seas for food.

      • Sarsha says:

        If you’ve ever taken the drive through Kansas from Missouri to Colorado, you’d find it hard to say that the world is overpopulated. The cities are crowded and the business district, but the farther west you go, the more spread out everything is. There’s plenty of space.

      • Gaye says:

        God is in control of His universe…this planet, not humans.

    • Jenna says:

      Wonderfully written! Speaks to my heart and affirms my commitment to openness to life. Thank you!!

    • Christy says:

      I wonder if people just get tired of hearing parents with multiple kids complain about how tired and overwhelmed they are? I think it’s great when people have large families and it’s no more my business how many kids they have as it is what they feed them or whether they home school, public school, private school, etc… God blessed us with a boy and a girl. Having been a juvenile diabetic for 30 years, and developing retinopathy during pregnancy we decided to stop at that:) I hear from people , “really, your done!?!” A lot. It makes me very uncomfortable. It’s a decision everyone must make for themselves with lots of prayer.

      • Nicole says:

        I have seven children. I make it a point not to complain about being tired or overwhelmed because if I do, people will assume it’s the kids’ fault. Actually, it isn’t. I have my own problems and health issues and reasons to be tired. The kids are not adding stress. They actually relieve it most of the time. The cultural assumption that children = stress or children = hardship or children = sleep loss is a very sad one indeed. It is not the case in my life and would not need to be the norm if it weren’t for other, sad factors that are unique to the modern day world.

        • Adelle says:

          I love being a mother too. I also have often wondered just how different (or how much easier) life with tiny children would be if I didn’t have so many modern “abundances” cluttering my schedule. Trying to make our littles meet the world’s schedules makes things (for me) much more inconvenient. For our family right now, a slower life pace is not attainable to the degree that would make me completely blissful; especially with daylight savings time! 😉 But I love how the simple things in life bring the biggest smiles to my children’s faces. So even though I feel stressed at times with the worlds pace, I love being able to occasionally choose a section of day (or even a whole day) to allow my family to slow down & stop running. To just be. It really allows us to connect again & just laugh together. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll figure out a way to make our dreams of a slower life a reality. It makes me happy just thinking about it, even if I don’t completely have a plan in place yet. But like Jess originally said: Being a mother & having children is totally worth it, even in this fast paced, stressful world!

  2. Angelique says:

    Thanks for writing this…I have 6 kids and get so sick of the looks from people. They assume we are horrible parents who don’t have the money for condoms or “don’t know how that happens” or “don’t know what the television is for”. I hate that comment. Others looks down on us because we won’t be able to put our kids through college….wow…they might have to do it like I did and actually work while going to college and get good grades to get a scholarship, and if necessary get a student loan or two. Then you get the comments from people who think you are horrible for letting your 10 year old clean the bathrooms and cook breakfast for the little ones (I think he flips an egg almost as well as I do). They don’t look at it like I have taught him a valuable lesson in life (how to take care of himself and others)…they look at it like slave labor, and I have even had comments like “isn’t he a little too young to be watching his siblings…aren’t you worried that someone will call the Department of Children and Families?”. I wasn’t worried until you made that comment! I will admit…I would have a hard time running this house without all my little helpers, but by the same token, without them I wouldn’t have the mess or time needed that would make it necessary for their help.

    But that isn’t what this is about…what is best about this article is that it explains well WHY we have the children…I can’t imagine my life without them. Each one brings something wonderful to this world…each one is a blessing from God and each one will have a purpose for being here…not just because “mom and dad decided to have ANOTHER one”. They are special…and who knows what they will bring to the table. Maybe one of them will bring the cure to cancer, or maybe one will just bless someone each day because they explained who Christ is to them? The point is…too many people complain about all the problems of the world, yet condemn the possible answers to their problems. God knows how many answers to prayers were aborted. So, although the hairs on my skin still get a little rise when people make snide remarks or roll their eyes and call me the next “Octo-mom”, I wouldn’t change it for the world…and hopefully soon will start to have skin like a duck and let it roll. :)

    Thanks for writing the article to explain. Hopefully it will help, but I think your voice is drown out by so many others and so many preconceived ideas and so many criticisms and so much…WORLD. May God give you a booming voice…you know He can!

    From a fellow Sister who is also sooooo tired…but soooooo happy.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Angelique, this comment made me laugh:

      “I will admit…I would have a hard time running this house without all my little helpers, but by the same token, without them I wouldn’t have the mess or time needed that would make it necessary for their help.”

      SO true. I couldn’t do it without them, but if I was without them, I wouldn’t need to. Great point.

    • Ashley N. says:

      Love this. Thank you!

    • Amy Davis says:

      Amen!!!!

      • Heather says:

        About the television comment… I read something on a blog a while back where the mom responded to exactly that comment. She looked the man who had made the comment right in the eye and said something like, “Yes, but we don’t need a TV to get us going. Why? Do you?” He turned beet red and everyone in earshot was laughing.

    • Amy says:

      “God knows how many answers to prayers were aborted.”

      I’d never thought of such tragedy like this. Just makes it worse. I always say that no one who supports abortion has ever been aborted.

  3. Rebecca Z says:

    Hi I like your article. I did wonder how do you decide if your done with having children? Or do you leave it up to God, natural family planning, or other forms of birth control? I have three girls 4 and under and I’m 38, so I’m pretty tired and more than that not sure I want to do pregnancy after 40 on purpose. Both my husband and myself feel good about only having three children, if we were to get pregnant without planning for it that would be fine. Just wondering where your beliefs lie on this kind of situation.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Rebecca,

      I want to tread carefully here, because I do not wish to harm the conscience of those sisters and brothers who have strong convictions in this area, nor do I want to heap up Pharisaical “heavy burdens” like Matthew 23:4 describes (“They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them.”).

      Ultimately, the only person’s convictions who I will have to live out, and face the results of, are my own. So I don’t want to sway someone who feels convinced that they are not to use birth control, that they should use it, and I don’t want to sway someone who feels freedom in this area, to suddenly feel constricted.

      That said, where my husband and I have focused is this: our attitudes before the Lord. Are we willing to receive what He gives, at any moment? At the same time, for us, that has not meant “no birth control, ever” for us. There have been a number of times where, out of concern for my health (after one of our three miscarriages), or to give me a small season of mental/emotional “pause,” that we have utilized non-abortifacient birth control. My husband has looked to verses like “live with your wife in an understanding way”– 1 Peter 3:7– and “love your wife… nourish and cherish her”– Ephesians 5:29– as his guideposts in this area.

      That said, even in those moments, we’ve submitted ourselves to the awareness that God could give us a child at any time, and made sure that we enter into those times of purposeful “rest” with the attitude that we believe we are doing what is best and wise in stewarding my body and soul, but that God knows better than we do, and that if at any time He was to give us a child, we would gratefully receive him/her as God’s rich blessing.

      As I said, though, where we have felt freedom, others may not. I don’t wish to wound the consciences of my brothers and sisters. But that is where we have landed.

      One other thought is the dual nature of privilege and responsibility that comes with the gift of children. As a metaphor for children/fertility, I have always appreciated the quote from Douglas Wilson, “One can have a high view of apple trees and not plant them a foot apart in his garden.” We approach children as a wonderful blessing from God, and simultaneously we recognize that there is a potential “cost” to my body & mind. So we seek to steward “ME” well, too.

      I have heard people say that if we viewed children as valuable as we do money/power, we would not turn them down, and for my part, I slightly disagree with that firm attitude. If someone was to offer my husband a position that paid incredible amounts of money, but kept him away from his family longer, he would indeed refuse. If we were in a season of having a newborn, having just moved (i.e., a time of high stress/responsibility), we might indeed even reject the offer of someone’s estate being given to us outright, because we are not in a place to steward that gift well, dealing with all of the particulars (setting up an estate sale, flying out to deal with all the particulars and execution of the will, etc.). If four months ago, someone was to come up to me, and hand me a backpack full of seeds and plant starters, I was not in a season where I could steward those things well. I didn’t have a house, and would not have been able to tend those seeds appropriately in order to bring them to fruition with nourishment and care.

      Those times of prayerfully turning down something seen as a blessing would be rare, but indeed, out of a desire to exercise wise stewardship, we may indeed refuse things normally termed “blessings”. So for us, that attitude/argument has never compelled us to a firm/unyielding conviction in this area.

      I hope this helps you understand where I am coming from.

      • Rebecca Z says:

        Thank you for your thoughtful response, I’ve been a believer for awhile I still feel new to the marriage and family part of being a Christian (married just five years and from a single parent home). And very much have on my mind the things you mentioned (freedom in Christ, but also following His will). I appreciate everything you said :)

        • Jess Connell says:

          I did have one more thought overnight, and it is this:

          I would – always- caution ANYONE against an attitude that says, “we are DONE. D. O. N. E. Capital D. Done!” If we are married and regularly intimate, there is always the possibility of children. And I think we should all check our hearts, no matter what outward choices we are making/not making about fertility, to be sure that we are people who would trust God’s beautiful sovereignty and welcome what He calls gifts (children) if He was to ordain that for us.

          Trusting God’s providence and sovereignty in the midst of our human choices is a wonderful thing to train our hearts to do in all areas, including this one of children.

          • Jen Mc says:

            thanks – wonderful response!

          • Shannon Verville says:

            First, I Love your article. However, I must say I disagree with this comment. Every situation is unique in itself. For instance, my circumstance. I have given birth to four wonderful children, all by cesarean. I have also had three miscarriages. I am 34 years old. I have a very large hernia, and during my last pregnancy I was in a great deal pain from it. I also had pubis symphosis separation. My body was telling me I was DONE. After much prayer and discussion with my doctor, we all felt it was best to permanently prevent anymore pregnancies. I had my tubes tied during my last cesarean. I feel this was absolutely the best choice for me and my family. So I just wanted to remind you that even sometimes Christians with large families do have to say they are DONE. :)

          • Jess Connell says:

            Shannon Verville,
            I think what you’re talking about (medical issues) are very different from a defiant heart issue that seems to be present in some women, where it’s “I can’t take it anymore; I am THROUGH. DONE. FINISHED.”

            That is very very different from a hysterectomy. A child with health diagnoses that overwhelms the parents and makes it near impossible to see out of the daily fog. Breast cancer and chemo. Etc.

            When those ^^^ life situations hit, you may be saying “we’re DONE.” But you’re not saying it with a defiant, “SO GLAD THAT’S OVER; I WOULDN’T WISH ANOTHER CHILD ON MY WORST ENEMY.” sort of attitude that (in my view) completely destroys any credibility that that person actually sees children the way God does– as a blessing, a rich treasure, a beautiful gift from God alone.

            If we are the woman with the hysterectomy, the breast cancer diagnosis, the complications of life that make it impossible/unlikely that we will have more children, I don’t believe it should ever be spoken about with a caustic, anti-child attitude that rejoices at “finally BEING DONE,” but rather with a sensitive and sacred attitude, that, in whatever words are used, conveys this attitude, “God has made it clear our childbearing is done, and so we’ve accepted that from His hand.”

            Does that make sense?

            Your situation is actually underscoring the very thing I’m talking about. Sensitive, thoughtful, stewardship-aware decision making, without an accompanying attitude of “children are the worst thing ever and I can’t wait to be D.O.N.E.”

            I hope that makes sense.
            Blessings to you- without any guilt or judgment from me.
            Jess

      • Krista Norman says:

        Thank you for this. We felt our family was complete after our fifth child was born. But, honestly, I have felt guilty over this, especially in “large family” circles. Your response here very succinctly describes our thoughts in why we have chosen to not actively seek more children. There aren’t many people advocating this type of attitude when it come to little ones, instead you’re either all in for however many or firmly against it. I wish this wisdom approach was more commonly taught and spoken about. I am grateful for your words.

      • Kari says:

        Thank you for this response!

      • Sarah Demings says:

        Thank you so much for this post! It is SO TRUE!!! Children are exhausting because they are so special! No pain no gain!

        Now for my question: What birth control have you found that is not an abortafacent? I have three wonderful, energetic children! I would love more but at this point I need a break! (And my hubby doesn’t want more right now.)

        We currently use temperature measuring/charting, but two of our three were conceived because I wasn’t charting well. If there’s a birth control that isn’t causing abortion I would love to hear about it!!! Thanks!

      • Celeste says:

        I appreciate this comment so much. The argument that children are a blessing so we should never “turn them down” because we wouldn’t turn down other things considered blessings, has bothered me as well and is something I have thought about quite a bit lately. I really liked the quote by Douglas Wilson about the apple trees. We are small farmers so I relate to the concept of blessings that we sometimes turn down or wait for the right timing. We have to be good stewards of the land, resources and time that we have. We can’t plant every good tree and vegetable at once even though they all would be blessings. I agree that we should also be good stewards of our body and health when it comes to our fertility. Also like you, with that said I believe that if there is a season where we are trying to avoid getting pregnant that we still need to be open to God giving us another child and truly seeing that child as a wonderful blessing! We have two boys with a third baby on the way right now and we hope to have many more!

      • Debra says:

        I can’t tell you how blessed I am to read your thoughtful spirit led responses. It brought me back to the place 20 years ago where God led us to those same decisions. Thank you for reminding me of the precious privilege we have of listening to our Lord as we walk the path He has for us. May the Lord richly bless you as you seek Him and the blessings He is entrusting to you.

  4. Emily says:

    Thank you for this post Jess. As a mom of littles in a family that is always growing, I’ve learned that most of the problem stems from our culture’s view of children as a burden and not a blessing. Phil and I have made a conscious choice to represent a different side of parenting- the side where joy/laughter/fullness of life is celebrated. Its still hard and its the most exhausting thing I’ve/we’ve ever done, but its so worth it. And often people stare because “they’re so well-behaved! we were going to request a different table when your family walked in, but they were so good during dinner”… Parenting, whether its for 1 or 10, is a joy and a total blessing; when I began to see it that way, it was easier for me to deal with people who just dont understand or who never have seen a family in that same light.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Emily, I love your sweet “little”/big family. :) And I’ve loved watching it grow and your hearts grow in the midst of it. Keep pressing in to Jesus and celebrating His life-giving work! I’m so thankful for families like yours, because I think you cause others to think, “well, maybe we wouldn’t be crazy to have ONE more…” (and actually, that’s what their heart desires, if the culture around them doesn’t crowd it out).

      I think young families loving their children and loving Jesus does way more to influence people to love and welcome children than conversations focused on convictions. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Oh I hope it DOES get easier! I have a 2.5 year old. An almost 1 year old and am expecting #3. (There will be an 18 month gap between each kid.) I was super excited when we found out #3 was on the way, until exhaustion hit and just like that, it was “Am I crazy!?” Being 35, I’m not sure how many kids we’ll have, but it IS nice to hear that it does get easier as they get older – at least in a physical sense. I’m at the place where my theology-on-children will probably soon confront my exhaustion/frustration-on-parenting, so I’m glad to have the encouragement!

    • Jess Connell says:

      Hang in there, Jayme! Those early years are all-on-mom in a way that changes as they grow and becomes less and less physically demanding.

      As they grow toward preteen/teen years, the emotional needs & interaction becomes primary above and beyond the physical needs, but while they are little it is difficult because sometimes you aren’t even able to communicate with them and just have to do it and see to their needs, sometimes with them literally kicking & screaming.

      Hang in there.

      Galatians 6:7-9 is really encouraging to me (and was during that season of young motherhood):
      “whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

      Right now you are doing a lot of sowing. Keep sowing to the Spirit– sow that which gives LIFE. And “don’t grow weary” for “in due season” you will reap, if you don’t give up.

      Press on and don’t lose heart!

  6. carla l Clay says:

    Thank you so much… I am ridicule for my desire to want to have more children that I have started to believe something was wrong with me..I am a strong believer of God and I trust in his word.. my 4 children that I am raising without thier father are the light of my life.. I desire more and I leave that decision up to God…

    • Jess Connell says:

      Carla, If you’re currently raising children without a father, then there would be no godly means of having more children. If God gives you a faithful husband, I too pray that God would give you the desires of your heart, to have more children.

      God bless you.

  7. Michelle says:

    Jess, thank you for this post. I love your attitude. And I love your response to Rebecca above, as I find myself in a similar situation to her, albeit a few years younger. =) But I love how you put it about stewarding gifts well, as it says in fewer words than I would have been able to pen my and Shannon’s view on us having more kids: we don’t feel that we would be able to steward them well, partly due to logistics of living where we do and partly due to our ages. It makes me sad, as when we were dating we talked about wanting five kids and we both wanted a big family…but the logistics of having a big family when you don’t get married until 27 and 33 don’t leave much room for rest for mom’s body or recuperation after each child, not to mention you can only have babies as quickly as God gives them to you. =) We are still welcome to one more if God should give us one, but we’re not actively hoping/trying for another if that makes sense. I keep telling myself that God knew how old we’d be when we got married, when we had our babies, and so on, but it doesn’t make it a lot easier for those of us who WANTED lots of kids and just don’t feel it’s wise to pursue it. So often those of us with smaller families feel judged by the “big family” crowd in the church, so I love to hear something more thoughtful than “children are a blessing so keep having them FOREVER.” Thanks. =)

  8. Leona says:

    I am so appreciative of your very balanced perspective. It seems sometimes people take the hard line on both sides, and I have been guilty of that.

    You have answered some questions in my heart and mind in part, but if you could elaborate, maybe you could help me connect some dots.

    My brother and sister in law have 5 children, number 6 on the way. I love each one of these children so much and they are gifts to our family. They do not believe in any form of birth control. My brother works two jobs, but they are dirt poor and have to depend on food stamps and the kindness of church and friends to meet their needs. I am concerned for my brother. He has such a good heart but I look at him and think he looks so much older than his years, even than me and I am 6 years older than him.

    If I am understanding you correctly, this would fall under the category of not being a good steward. Am I reading that correctly?

    If so, is there any advice you can give me to help them think more deeply about their choices?

    • Jess Connell says:

      Leona,
      I’m glad the discussion has been beneficial for you.

      I don’t feel qualified or called to decide if others are being good stewards. I do look deeply at my own choices. Less than a year ago, when my husband lost his job, though he immediately found a temporary job and worked hard at it, we still would have been considering food stamps for a season in order to meet our needs if he had not found his current job. I do not think that poverty and food stamps are necessarily reasons to decide that poor stewardship is happening.

      For thousands of years, children have been faithfully raised by loving parents in much worse situations than almost anyone in the world today. Even the most poverty-stricken families in this modern world are much better off than the majority of the world’s population for the great majority of the world’s history. So for me, money and possessions and food stamps would not be a strong consideration as to whether or not someone was stewarding themselves or their resources poorly.

      In the situation you describe, I hear that you have a hard working brother who works faithfully to strive to meet his family’s needs. At present, they are apparently unable to fully do that. Their decisions about birth control and food stamps are their own, between them and God, and between them and the government that has set up the system in a way that they apparently qualify for. So those would be the beginning and the end of my thoughts about that. I would encourage you not to dwell on their choices, and instead seek to serve and be a blessing to them in the ways that God leads you to do.

      When I talk about stewardship, I am thinking much more about stewardship of mom and her physical & mental health (which I’ve personally seen go awry in a number of families where birth control was never seen as an option, even for the most desperate of times), and also the stewardship of us as parents toward our children– thinking, CAN WE RAISE THESE CHILDREN WITH LOVE AND PURPOSE to know and love Christ?

      THAT, to me, is a much more complex question of stewardship than mere dollars and cents.
      Jess

      • Leona says:

        Thank you, Jess. You really help give me some new insights.

        I do try to encourage them buti fear with my brother having to work so much that the kids will grow up with an absentee father. They live very simply, so it’s not as if they can cut corners in other ways. I always pray that God will open up better work opportunities for him.

  9. KT says:

    I’m the oldest of seven and was upset, as a teenager, when my mom announced her pregnancy with my youngest sister. But when she was born I adored her and now my siblings are my closest friends. Being part of a big family is the biggest blessing, and having young siblings prepared me so well to be a mom to my own son & expected daughter. I’m 36 so I likely won’t have a “big” family but I’m so firmly grounded in the conviction that children are a blessing from the Lord. Thanks for this post and thoughtful discussion.

    • Jess Connell says:

      KT,
      Thanks for sharing your experience as a teen.

      Although all along I’ve enjoyed watching my littles “welcome” a new sibling, it has amazed me, especially with our last baby, to watch our older children. My 12 year old has such a unique perspective on his 20-month-old brother. He doesn’t see Theo in the same way his 4 year old brother sees him, and yet he doesn’t see him like I see him. He has some interactions with him that are sibling-like (wrestling, snuggling, being silly together) and some that are parent-like (adoring his newest phrases, commenting on his latest milestones, etc.).

      Though 10.5 years apart, It’s been a WONDERFUL blessing to me to see the way they love each other. I think it will be similarly a blessing this time around to see the varied relationships this new baby (due in Feb) will enjoy with his big brothers & sister.

  10. Katie S says:

    Is there a point where it gets difficult to care for the children’s emotional and spiritual health and actually KNOW each of them individually? You started to get at my question in an earlier comment:
    “…and also the stewardship of us as parents toward our children– thinking, CAN WE RAISE THESE CHILDREN WITH LOVE AND PURPOSE to know and love Christ?”

    Our second child is just a year old, so some of my question may be due to our recent/ongoing transition between “I can focus on just you” with our first to keeping up with two little people. Do you have any comment on (1) how to evaluate what the needs (beyond physical) of current (and additional) kids are and (2) practical ways you meet them? How do you keep up with everyone?

    • Jess Connell says:

      Katie,
      You are in a short, but difficult season, where you are learning to balance multiple needs and feeling the difference from what existed a year ago- where you were able to solely love and delight in one special little person.

      We all are given to self-focus and the desire for someone to fully focus solely on us, but the truth is, that God doesn’t mean for us to be solely at the center of anyone else’s universe. So (in truth) your children are each better off for not having that be a foundation laid for a continual ongoing struggle in their lives, LOL. :)

      I would encourage you with these thoughts:
      (1) Do not make any permanent, absolute decisions about anything regarding children when you are in the throes of stress. That is the time when we are most likely to feel like, “I AM DONE. D. O. N. E. with this!” But stress is a funny thing. It makes us take strong stances that we often later regret. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve heard from and talked with that made firm & permanent decisions while in the throes of postpartum depression or life with little ones or hormonal imbalance or a particularly difficult season of sickness or stress, that later regretted that absolute decision, with many tears and much sorrow.

      So, first, don’t do anything drastic or permanent.

      (2) Watch godly moms you know. Look at how they love their kids. Seek out successful mothers who love and discipline their children well. You will find, I think, that they somehow manage to greatly love their children without making any one child the center of their universe. We are capable of more love than we think, and love multiplies, not divides. The beautiful thing (that I’m still learning) about having more children than average is the way that God gives our children love and wonderful relationships not just through me as their mom but also through their interactions with one another. I’m increasingly convinced that God means for us to learn brother and sister life (that will ultimately serve us well in our lives as members of the Body of Christ) through those early interactions.

      As you watch them, watch how they love and watch how they evaluate needs of their kids. We don’t all do this the same. Some put great emphasis on meeting social needs, others are focused on education and curiosity of their kids. But the truth is that our kids’ “needs” are few and God gives us the ability to meet those things that are true needs. We also, as we grow as moms, get better and better at meeting those desires and needs for emotional connection, deep love and affection, wise support and counsel, etc. Through our kids, He grows US and helps us to be lovers, counselors, teachers, encouragers, trainers, and blessings TO our children.

      Keep looking to HIM as the meeter of YOUR needs and you will increasingly see how He will help you to be the meeter of the needs He has given you to meet.

      One other thought- jumping off that last sentence I just wrote– God does not expect parents to meet every need of their child’s heart. There is no way we can do it. There are places only HE can fill, and so we have to trust Him to be faithful to do it, not taking on burdens for ourselves that He never meant for us to carry.

      I hope this helps as you sort these things out. If this is too heady and not practical enough, give me some pushback and I’ll think through more specifics with you.

      Blessings,
      Jess

      • Katie S says:

        Thank you! Those two words don’t quite express it well enough – I am grateful for this thought-provoking response. The whole thing was helpful and I do mean to find some moms “further along” to observe. (There must be some around, even if the moms in our small church either have grown kids or are where I am.)

        Two ideas that particularly impacted my husband and I were the second paragraph, about improper longing for self-focus, and your comment that brother-and-sister-ing prepares us for being part of the church. Both are things that line up with my understanding of Scripture and truth, but had not thought of in those specific terms before. Those two ideas seem to be the missing pieces in the way I had been thinking about large families. So again, thank you. :)

      • Cait says:

        Although we are of the same mind as you concerning children as gifts, I’ve been wondering about this and reading this comment reply was so encouraging and helpful. I worry about my sweet 2.5 year old and the days when I feel like I hardly connected with her when distracted by housework and my 7 month old. And then multiply that…but it’s not the only answer. Thank you! This is my first time reading your blog (my sister pinned this) and I’m excited to read more from the experiences and wisdom the Lord has given you.

  11. Lolo sidhu says:

    I have friends and family members who have and come from large families. (4 or more kids). I admired them, they are able to provide for all their emotional needs, they are able to provide with food and a loving home.
    I am a mom of one little boy, and I want a big family, but I am done having my own. My hearts aches and feels so sad when I see woman keep having kids when there are so many millions of kids out there needing a loving, caring home. I home where they will have a full plate of food for dinner and a cozy warm bed to sleep every night. I wish I could adopt a million kids, but I can’t. I wish society will see what I see, I truly don’t want to sound mean but I feel like this large families are selfish. So much to give and they keep bringing kids to this world when there are so many already here asking for a chance. Our world needs to learn that more is my better, better is when you are willing to share more.
    Our kids are our future, give them the best today so they can be their best tomorrow.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Lola,
      My heart, too, hurts for those children who are not given a loving home. God’s heart aches for those children, too.

      In James 1:27, we’re told, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

      We are not called (or able) to care for everyone, everywhere. I may be called at some point to do in physical form what we now do financially, through supporting an orphan in a loving, Christian facility in a family setting in the country where he was born. We all must do what God convicts us of.

      We also are not called (or able) to judge anyone else… their family size, or the level and devotion of their care for widows/orphans.

      To say that large families are selfish is to ultimately condemn the God who gives life in their bellies and souls to the children brought forth by their fertility. It is, in all honesty, criticizing God’s sovereignty and providence in how He has seen fit to populate the world.

      For my part, when I look at how God has built us– given us (generally, as a people, not always as individuals) bodies that have a lengthy season of fertility, and also (within marriage) sexual desire for one another regularly, I do think that on the whole God’s plan is beautiful fertility and fruitfulness. I would challenge you to consider, that in actuality, the self-sacrifice and submission required in placing oneself under this fruitful pattern of God is not selfish at all but is actually self-giving in a way that can honor Christ & spread His fragrance throughout the world in ways that one man and one woman would never be able to do on their own.

      I understand your viewpoint about large families, but do not agree with it.

      On the other hand, the idea of caring for orphans, not just in soul but in body, is an idea that I wholeheartedly agree with, and it’s why we’ve set aside a portion of our income each year for a number of years to care for an orphan through the Rafiki Foundation in Ethiopia. My heart will always beat for the plight and blessing of orphans and widows & I appreciate your heart in that.

      Blessings,
      Jess

    • Tara says:

      Lolo,
      So, with only one biological child, does this mean you have adopted or are adopting multiple children yourself?
      I think your theory about large families is grossly mistaken. I could name, off the top of my head ten families with four our more bio children who have also chosen to adopt, usually children with special needs, myself included.
      It is because we have a large family that we felt equipped to adopt, for all the reasons Jess listed in her post. In my experience, large families are more likely to adopt children in need than small families simply because we’re used to adding “one more” to the mix… and maybe because we already have the fifteen passenger van. Lol!

    • Melissa says:

      I’m adding the families I know in my head who have 5+ kids and more than half of them have adopted children, fostered, or both. My own adopted son was brought into a family with two loving parents *and* four loving siblings. Talk about providing a loving home, these kids adopted into big families are swimming in love!

  12. Bethany says:

    Excellent post, Jess, and a great conversation in the comments. :)

  13. Thank you for this! I am due in December with a surprise 4th, and my daughter just turned one. I have rough pregnancies, with severe hyperemesis, and we figured three kids was going to be it, because I just can’t care for the others while I’m pregnant. Adoption was our next “maybe.” My husband had just gone in to talk to the doctor about a vasectomy when we found out we were having a 4th, and I was very upset. I had just adjusted to trying to care for an infant and homeschool the two older kids when I got this shocker. It’s been a rough last few months. My children are my absolute delight, my heart bursts from love for them every single day, but I feel so overwhelmed with another one coming so soon and I’ve been pretty depressed. But because of prayer, and trying to hold onto that knowledge that I will adore this child one day, it’s gotten a little better. I really appreciate the first part of this post. It’s so true: anything of value is tiring! You put it so succinctly and it kind of hit me over the head. I’m thankful for my kids in so many ways. I would have been an awful person without them teaching me love and patience and self-sacrifice! I need to be thankful that I’m so tired! What a thing to be exhausted for! We’re all tired because of one thing or another. My payment at the end of the day is not cold, hard cash. It’s a bunch of kisses from sweet little lips and bright little dandelions picked ‘specially for me. That’s totally worth being tired for!
    I get comments from people about how many I have, but my response is always, “Good thing I like ’em so much!”
    So thank you for reminding me why this is going to be SO worth it! That God is adding treasures to my already blessed life and I will have darker circles under my eyes and even more love in my heart! It’s going to be tough at first, but all good things should take effort and time goes by too quickly the more you have anyway!

    • Jess Connell says:

      Melissa,
      Thanks for sharing your story… and congratulations!

      And this right here?

      I would have been an awful person without them teaching me love and patience and self-sacrifice! I need to be thankful that I’m so tired! What a thing to be exhausted for! We’re all tired because of one thing or another. My payment at the end of the day is not cold, hard cash. It’s a bunch of kisses from sweet little lips and bright little dandelions picked ‘specially for me. That’s totally worth being tired for!

      That is so true, and brilliantly put. Thank you for adding your thoughts!

  14. Candice says:

    Jess, thanks for your thoughtful post and careful responses. I agree that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to how many children one should have. I do agree that Christians should have a heart that loves and welcomes children, while trying to faithfully steward the children they have. I think the mistake people often make us to have wordly ideas about what good stewardship is. (Paying for everyone’s college, high standard of living, etc). Another angle to consider is the husband’s leading. We have eight children, and my husband felt that eight was all we could “steward well”. Sometimes I wonder about who that ninth person would have been with a twinge of sadness, but ultimately that’s not where my focus should be: on what God *didn’t* give us. I must trust Him, have a heart of thankfulness, and roll up my sleeves to work and love for my family. Blessings to you.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Candice,

      You said: “I think the mistake people often make us to have wordly ideas about what good stewardship is. (Paying for everyone’s college, high standard of living, etc).”

      And that is so very true. American Christians (even the poorest of us) enjoy a standard of living that is exponentially more luxe, rich, easy, and amazing than 99.99999_______________ % of the world’s history could even imagine.

      For us to utter the words “I can’t afford more” is quite nearly obscene… at the very least, for most of us, it’s laughable. We have to make sure our treasure is not in things… in cable subscriptions… in video games… in couches… in nice cars… in well-decorated rooms… where are we spending our money? Where is our treasure? Our heart will be where our treasure is.

      There may be times when we legitimately can not steward more children *well* (or, as you point out, where one spouse may not be on board), but finances (in America) honestly are such a minute part of what you & I mean when we talk about stewardship.

      There is a reasonable level of care we ought to provide for our children. In 1 Timothy 6:7-8, Paul put it like this: “we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”

      Food and clothing.

      Pretty basic.

      That doesn’t mention the latest gaming system, Nate Berkus’ this year’s “it” color of paint on your walls, a BA for every child, or anything like it.

      Food and clothing.

      There may be times when a family legitimately cannot provide food and clothing for their children, but those situations are so very rare, and could possibly be corrected with instruction about the marvelous means of saving money through bargain shopping and cooking at home, that it’s almost not worth mentioning in the same discussion as whether or not to have more children.

      When we value children as we ought to, as eternal & unique SOULS created by God– truly, the only things in our homes that we will be able to take with us into eternity– the discussion of money diminishes significantly in this conversation.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. God bless you & your family. 😀

      • Ximena says:

        Hi Jess, I am a mom of four little ones under 6, I would love to have more, every time my husband and I use a condom I feel a little sad….. But it is a mutual agreement, why? Because every child have their own and different needs, some may want more mommy time than others, my four year old needs me at bed time but sadly I can’t be with him because I am with his baby sisters, 2 and 1 year olds…… And when I say that I will be there soon….. I am always a little too late. My pint is kids need their mom and dad time and the more children you have the more blessings but sometimes not so happy hearts form our little ones…. That’s why, Even though I would like to have more, have had great pregnancies with no complications, all natural…… No miscarriages , but they need me, each one of them, specially at this little age…… And I need them too. Please tell me what you think of my thought and if it happens to you as well with all your little blessings. In HIM
        Ximena

        • Jess Connell says:

          Ximena,
          Thanks for your openness. I can understand your desire to meet your children’s needs. I would say, if you are in mutual agreement with your husband, then I would encourage you not to “feel sad” over a decision that you are making in prayerful, mutual agreement.

          Go and walk in peace.

          When God gives us peace in something, we need feel no guilt/shame/sadness over that decision. On the other hand, when we have a nagging sense of guilt over a specific thing, that’s something to pay attention to. Is it something in my convictions/belief that I’m ignoring and should listen to? Or am I carrying unnecessary guilt from the opinions/views of men?

          Working through that decision should lead to peace. Either peace because you realize you are able to walk in faith in that decision, or peace resulting from finally being able to rid yourself from living under the fear of man.

          But that is what I thought when I read your comment– Based on Romans 14:22-23 (and the surrounding passage), I would encourage you to work through your heart enough to get to the place where you can walk in faith, free from sadness, and be able to operate in joy & peace in this decision you’ve mutually come to with your husband.

          Blessings.

          • Ximena says:

            Thank you Jess! That bible verse says it all!!!! Now, how do you provide that halite time with your older children when you need to take care of the younger ones? That’s what makes me not to have more unless you tell me how you do it!!!!
            Thanks so much!
            Ximena

          • Ximena says:

            I meant quality time!

        • Jess Connell says:

          I don’t know why it doesn’t let me reply to your other comments, so I’ll reply here to your comments about how to get quality time.

          It’s actually something I purposefully think about on a fairly regular basis… how to work in time with them. As a homeschooler, it probably comes easier than it might if we were all running in different directions, but it’s still something I have to be purposeful about.

          When I run to the store, usually one of the older kids (12yo son, 10yo son, or 8yo daughter) will run in with me. We talk about things, laugh together, make observations, listen to how their time in Sunday school went, time with a friend, or whatever.

          When I’m sitting on the couch, my little ones (6yo son, 4yo son, and 19 month old son) will come for snuggles, often. We tickle, hug, wrestle, play, give zuburts, giggle, use nicknames, etc. I find that my little ones need those constant snuggles…

          …but my big ones need physical “snuggles” too, just on their level. Back rubs, hugs, shoulder rubs, sitting close together while reading articles, etc. Their need for affection hasn’t diminished. It just doesn’t look like tickles/zuburts/silly nicknames so much anymore. It looks more like time spent together with purposeful reaching out and wrapping my arm around their shoulder, etc.

          We read together, often. Kids snuggle in on each side of me. We do it as part of school, and not part of school. They sit alongside us in church and snuggle.

          With our big ones, as they are just 10 & 12, we slowly working them into our adult conversations. They hear us talk about complex things in the culture & community, but we are still cautious with certain topics. But increasingly, they enter into our conversations and occasionally offer their thoughts and perspective on things.

          We play spades with them, and games, and laugh and make memories.

          I teach them to cook, and they have each become more competent in the kitchen and completely confident in cooking certain meals all on their own (spaghetti & meatballs, cornbread and milk).

          We try to make these things part of our daily lives… it’s not easy. It takes time, intentionality, creativity, and some self-denial on our part, but it’s a good thing to invest in our kids’ lives. It’s like Deuteronomy 6:6-9 talks about:

          “these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

          This is life together… all through life, all along the way, talking about the Lord, loving each other, spending time together, knowing one another better.

          It does look different as they get older (and I’m sure it will look different still as they get even older than they are now), but affectionate, enjoyable time together is still an important of our time with our children.

          ~Jess

  15. Laura says:

    I loved this blog post and the discussion it caused. I keep coming back to read the newest comments 😀

    I *only* have three kids. I’ve sometimes felt a little judged by families who have many more kids than I. But I really like what you said about not laying a burden of conviction on others’ shoulders. That is so important, and works on both ends of the spectrum.

    I’ve really been questioning lately why I stopped at three. I am only 34 and could easily have more if that’s what the Lord wanted. For me it’s been about assessing how I’m doing with the three I already have. A lot of days it feels like I am swimming against the current with the progress we’ve made (or not made) in our parenting. I feel like I am not ‘cut out’ to be a of many…. I am easily stressed and my blood pressure goes up if our day is too busy. I feel like to be my best self for my kids, I need to keep my life as simple and quiet as possible.

    However, I have always taken this to mean I shouldn’t have more kids. Now I feel I maybe have missed the boat. But it’s also been about what my husband says (as someone else mentioned) about the whole thing. He has said ‘no more’ partly because he is the one who sees me day in and day out and how I am managing with our three. I’ve always felt like I should heed my husband in this area, but now I’m wondering if I should have pushed harder for another baby…

    Anyway, sorry for this stream of consciousness ramble. I have a lot on my mind in regards to this topic :)

    It’s just so hard to know what to do. I’ve often wished my birth control would just fail lol and the decision would be taken out of my hands, and yet I am too afraid to stop using it. It isn’t that I’m against a new baby. Obviously if I got pregnant we’d welcome it with open arms and hearts. It’s more about taking that plunge into the unknown.

    • Ashley N. says:

      This sounds like something to take directly to God with your husband. I once talked to a father of 14 and he said 3 was the hardest. I take great hope in that because I have “only” three myself – so it just gets better from here, right? Wishing you peace moving forward, whatever you ultimately decide!

    • Amanda C says:

      I have to agree with this comment. I have 2 children, and yes, feel judged by others about why we made the decision not to have more. A stranger (a man) actually stopped to ask me when we were having more children. When I told him (which was none of his business) that 2 was enough for us. He scolded me. Said you’re not even replacing yourself unless you have at least 4 kids. Really? Unless you’ve suffered multiple miscarriages and hyperemesis through every pregnancy (even those that ended in loss), you have no right to judge how many children my husband and I have been blessed to bring into this world.

      • Jess Connell says:

        Amanda, I’m sorry for the rude comments/attitudes you’ve been on the receiving end of. The longer I live, the more I think that strangers just sometimes say the rudest/oddest things. I’m learning more and more to let them go, but I know they can sting.

        There’s still one from a few years ago that can get my dander up even now, when I think of it.

        In regard to feeling judged, I am trying, in my life, to keep that saying in mind, “if you realized how little people actually think about you, you’d probably be offended.” I think whenever we make a decision that feels vulnerable, different, or that was a difficult one for us to come to, we can wonder if others are judging us, actively thinking about what we’re doing, or mentally condemning us. But it’s to our own benefit to give people the benefit of the doubt and not assume they’re thinking things or judging us; it actually reduces our own anxiety and can get us out of our own heads a little bit.

        I don’t know if you’re like me, but it can be easy to overanalyze things once you mentally “go there.” So the trick for me has been to not “go there,” and not allow myself to dwell on things that aren’t even necessarily “true,” and certainly aren’t “lovely,” “commendable,” etc, as the list in Phil 4:8 goes. Anyway, that’s where I have to turn, mentally, whenever I’m tempted to feel condemnation or judgment from others.

        Romans 14, that great chapter about varying convictions, tells us that “each one should be convinced in his own mind.” And that it’s before our own Maker that we each stand. So, if I’ve made a decision where I am at peace and convinced in my own mind that I can stand rightly before God, then I don’t need to prove myself to anyone, or have a chip on my shoulder about anything.

        I can live out my convictions in grace toward others, and peace with others & myself, because I recognize that it is before my Maker that I stand. When I do that, I can live without fear of man, without fear of their judgments, and without (too much) rattling from their comments, because it is God’s opinion that matters most to me.

        Hope that doesn’t come across preachy; it’s just where I’ve had to land after working through years of ugly comments, curious questions, and times of wondering what others thought about us. The more I purposefully live before my Maker, the less I have to live in fear/concern/anxiety over what others think.

        Grace & Peace,
        Jess

  16. Sharon says:

    A friend of mine shared this on her Facebook page. It looked interesting so I decided to read it. Love what you said. I have three Littles and yes, they are work but it’s so worth it. The hubs and I have decided that three is enough for us. We do however have an “angel baby” (our first miscarried) so I guess technically, we have four. Three on earth and one in Heaven. My last baby carried so low that it really took a toll on my body. Not to mention, I gained twice as much weight as recommended. My pelvic bone and hip joints are still recovering and I’m just now starting to feel more like myself. He’s 16 month old now. Even though I had had relatively rough pregnancies and the hubs and I have decided to only raise our three we would welcome another baby if that was the Lord’s will for us. We believe children are a miraculous blessing. All children. I find it bizarre that some of these really young married couples (say in their early twenties) who have one child and they choose to be done. I am a firm believer that every child should have at least one sibling. I think it would be rather lonely without siblings. I know some who were raised as an only child and they have said they wish they had a brother or sister even though they have friends and loving parents. There is just a special bond between siblings. Anyway, thank you for sharing your heart.

    • Ann says:

      Sharon, thank you for saying what you said about only children. I can resonate. I was raised as an only child. I was lonely, albeit very imaginative, and as a child didn’t understand the sibling “bond” some of my friends had. I understand it now and it is definitely something very special. However, my mother lost two full-term babies, one while in the womb and another at a few hours old. She then proceeded to miscarry before she became pregnant with me. So, it technically wasn’t for a lack of trying. Sometimes, it’s just not in God’s will to have siblings for a child.

    • Kelly says:

      As an only child, I take offense to the comment that having only one child is “bizarre.” My parents had me and were happy with one child and never felt the urge to have another. What is wrong with that? I had an amazing childhood with very loving parents. No, I didn’t have siblings, but I was very close to my cousins and did a lot of things with them. I was very involved in extracurricular activities, church, girl scouts, etc. and had tons of friends to have play dates with. I don’t feel that I missed out on anything by not having a sibling. (I know you could make the argument – how would I know if I’m missing out since I don’t know what it’s like to have a brother or sister?) Still, just as we caution others not to judge for having too many kids, please don’t judge someone for not having ENOUGH kids. It goes both ways. Sometimes I will see a mother who has one child who is desperately trying to have another but cannot for various reasons. I’ve seen the child she already has look so distraught because the mother is so focused on having another child that she forgets about the child she already has. Just some things to think about on the other side of this issue. Being an only child is not a terrible thing. Parents should not become so involved in having more children that they forget about the one (or ones) they already have.

  17. A new mom x 7 says:

    Thank you so much for putting into words our hearts about this. I am not as eloquent with words and have always fumbled through explaining why we will keep having more. I am so encouraged by your post! Thank you again!

    • Jess Connell says:

      I have a friend who put it like this (I’ll use my kids’ names & character traits in the place of hers):

      “Why do we have so many children?
      Well, first we had Ethan. He’s so intelligent, curious, and kind to others. We love him so much…
      So we had Baxter. He was a snuggly toddler, is utterly hilarious, and is becoming a talented young chef. We liked him so much…
      So we had Maranatha. She’s artistic and kind and is a gentle and insightful addition to our family. We’ve enjoyed her so much, it seemed like a shame to stop with her.
      So we had Silas. He’s creative and clever, loves people and was such a wonderful addition to our family…
      So we had Moses. The cutest little 4 year old in the world, he makes us laugh & makes us so thankful to God for him…
      So we had Theo. He’s snuggly and wonderful and we can’t wait to see what else God will make him into…
      So we have #7 on the way now.”

      You get the idea. Well, we love our kids, and love watching who they’re becoming. So we haven’t seen any reason to put a stop to such a wonderful gift of God that He built into our biology & marriage relationship.

      I like her answer. It’s a good one, even without having catchy come-backs at the ready.

  18. Rich says:

    From the article “A child is just as happy to play in 75 cent slightly-faded t-shirts from a thrift store as he is to play in an on-trend $35 one from Gymboree. He doesn’t care if his carseat, nursing cover, and playmat are decked out in the latest pattern, last year’s chevron stripes, or the geometric print with giraffes on it from several years back. It is usually the parent’s preferences, rather than the child’s, that makes ‘having a child’ expensive or not.” – Yeah, that’s true up until a certain age (maybe 10 or 11) – then they REALLY start caring about what they wear and what others will think of them – and you have to continue supporting them until 18. Education and college costs are also no laughing matter. A bit irresponsible to downplay the financial cost of raising a child IMHO.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Rich,
      As a woman who “only” had one brother, I still didn’t have parents who furnished the costs of our educations. We were both expected to procure scholarships, pursue work study, choose our universities carefully, and both held jobs while obtaining our degrees. I don’t believe either of us suffered for having to provide for our own educations and in fact instead it contributed to a great work ethic and gratitude for both of us as we obtained higher education goals. (He’s gotten his masters. I’m still pursuing various graduate level endeavors at sporadic intervals.)

      So. I disagree, fundamentally, that it is the responsibility of the parents to financially provide a college education. I do however believe that parents are to ensure that children who are capable of college level work are adequately prepared to pursue higher education if they so desire.

      About clothing. I guess :) we have a fundamental disagreement there too. I don’t believe that a 10 or 12 year old’s parents should be held hostage to the opinions of his/her peers in order to clothe him/her adequately. We primarily shop thrift stores for my 10 and 12 year olds…. Well, that’s what we do for my husband and I as well. I have never felt that they, or we, are overly unfashionable and wouldn’t feel it necessary to change our practice even if a preteen balked at wearing what we can afford. I would look to find a balance- not make them wear plaid & lace but also not breaking our budget. I’d see it as an opportunity for growth on the part of the preteen.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  19. Laura says:

    Okay, I’m back. I’ve been thinking some more. My question is not ‘why have more kids if you’re already exhausted’. My question is/questions are: why have more kids when I am already stressed? Why have more kids when i do not know how to discipline the three that i have? When my nine year old still hits his siblings in anger, yet my husband and i are incapable of finding a consequence that works….and yet i am somehow supposed to want another child. I just think for some people (me) there is an inner knowing that if i let it be and had baby after baby, our home would be run amok.

    So there is my heart laid bare, the real reason i do not want another baby. Because i am incapable. So: why have more kids when you’re already messing it up?

  20. Jess Connell says:

    Laura,
    I don’t want you to think you’re alone in having children that at times overwhelm you. My kids are rotten little sinners too. Like I was. And am. :) I haven’t yet found a way to stop them from sinning, but I have gotten better in responding to their sin, as a mom, and I’ll bet you have too, even if it’s sometimes hard to see.

    I also don’t want you to think I’ve “got it all together.” I definitely don’t. Like you, I’m stressed sometimes. And like you, I’m continually learning how to do better with loving parenting and interactive, intentional discipline. I yell when I shouldn’t. I’m growing in that area, but it’s still a struggle for me. Sometimes I look at all there is to do and feel overwhelmed and incapable.

    I get frustrated about cleanliness, lack of order (even though I’m a “P” on Myers-Briggs– Heaven help us all if I was a “J!”) :) I get pushback about schoolwork and chores and “why can’t I….” and “he always gets to…”, and always, always feel like I’m “on.” I was just talking with some girlfriends and a number of us confided that that was probably the thing we expected *LEAST* about motherhood– how very CONSTANT it would be… continual discipline, continual noise, continual mess, continual (can you believe it?!) people who want to eat and wear clean-ish clothes on a fairly regular basis. :)

    So, I do identify with your struggle.

    For me, that incapability & stress has propelled me to continue to seek out wisdom from older godly women who have done WELL with their parenting (i.e., I don’t want to offend, but I am purposefully selective in who I seek advice from, and I look to those who have exhibited godliness and wisdom in the areas where I need to grow). It has also driven me to the Word, and propelled me to read more widely, and… honestly… this is the hard part… to have to change and grow in how *I* respond to my children.

    That has looked like:
    * More confession of my sin & asking for forgiveness. (to our children)
    * More REPENTANCE on my part– actually TURNING from my sin, not just apologizing, but sorrowful repentance of stopping nit-picking, stopping snark & sarcasm, stopping things that (even in small ways) might wound their tender hearts
    * More intentionality and directiveness (decisiveness) in how I deal with their sin & poor choices.
    * More interaction with my husband, more regularly about discipline issues & attitudes we see rising in our children.
    * More fighting selfishness in my own heart, as I see my tendency to grasp after *my* time, *my* rights, *my* peace and quiet, *my* rest time, *MY* evening times with my husband without kids awake, etc.

    Honestly, I am finding that the more demands that are placed upon me, the more I run to my Savior and His Word, and the more He instructs my heart. I am not saying there is no place/season for rest or instruction if things are out of whack and stressful, but what I am saying is that sometimes, the strength of the demand on us causes us to seek out (and find– He is so good to promise in James 1:5 that if we ask in faith for wisdom, he will give it!) wisdom in a way that we do not when we are still trying to do it on our own, in our own strength, and by human wisdom and ways that we learned growing up.

    In this, please understand, I am writing from what my experiences have been as I’ve struggled as a mom, and not trying to convince you of anything other than what I have found the answers to these questions to be.

    For me, the more I tried to do it in my own strength, the more angry & stressed I became. The more I have sought out godly wisdom and (through much groaning, believe me!), by His strength rather than my own, constrained myself to increasingly follow HIS ways and HIS wisdom given through His word & His people, the more peace & joy and DELIGHT I’ve had in daily life, even while the demands and “responsibility” continue to grow.

    When I first truly realized my tendency to “do it all, myself, without God’s help” and laid down my striving in my own strength, I became more dependent on the God who can be all that I need & He continues to grow me into what I need to be. It’s not that I was capable to be a mom of (almost-7) when I had 1, 2, or 3 children. No. That has happened, only now… when I am the mom of (almost-7). And some days I don’t feel “up” to the task. But HE is up to the task. He gives me what I need and keeps me dependent on Him in ways that are sweet and gentle and perpetual.

    God gives us grace sufficient to the need at the time that we have need.

    I’m rambling now, but those are my thoughts. Your turn. :)

    • Megan says:

      I agree with this Jess. I just think that this thought could be carried to infinity, and as believers, we do have freedom to make choices in our lives. For me, the four I have do all this for me. I don’t need more kids to drive me to a deeper dependence on God, I’m WAAAY beyond what I can handle in my own strength already. :) I always say that two is two more than I could reasonably handle. :) I know myself, and I know my husband, and even though I have no health problems, we both were in very strong agreement that four is enough for us. We could afford more children. We could clothe them, house them, and I’m sure I’d find a way to discipline them, and educate them, etc. But we are both very happy that we recognized our emotional limits and kept it to four, and even more that we took permanent action, because now, we are enjoying our intimate life more than ever! I know that probably sounds really wrong to you! But it’s something we have great peace and joy in, and no regrets about, and I don’t think we ever will. I have no guilt and don’t feel that my choice reflects a selfish heart or wrong attitude. I just wanted to throw that into the discussion… I think it’s perfectly acceptable for people to make a conscious decision to stop at any number if they sense the spirit giving them the freedom to do so. Because the arguments you’re making for large families could be applied to any number of children. We all have our limits, because we are human. Some women have a much larger limit than others, it has so much to do with individual personality, as well as the personality of the husband, I think. Just my two cents! : )

      • Jess Connell says:

        You’re right, the argument could be carried into infinity, and I don’t mean it that way.

        And your comment doesn’t “sound really wrong to me,” but it does sound like a blessing/good result not everyone gets. I can’t tell you the number of women I’ve heard from for whom the permanent things (vasectomy, tubes tied, and hysterectomy) have actually greatly diminished their sexual enjoyment (when they were expecting the opposite), because of hormonal, pain, performance, and desire issues that they never anticipated coming to them as a result of the surgeries.

        And yes, I agree that different people do have different limits. We all need to do Romans 12:3 well– “think of ourselves with sober judgment” and rightly assess what we can/can’t do in faith… in all kinds of areas, not just this one.

        Thanks for adding your two cents! :)

  21. shanna faye swartwood says:

    great post! i couldn’t agree more. of all the things in this world that can make us tired i am so happy to spend my life on raising children. people are the only eternal thing. what could be better? thank you. i am raising 7 ages 10 and under and i am tired!!! but my life is so full!

  22. Emily says:

    Great post! I can’t relate very much because we only have one. I think everyone has their calling and we also all have different wants in life. I would love to have another one someday– I do carry a lot of guilt that he’s an only child but he’s only 3 so it’s not a final thing. :-)

    • Jess Connell says:

      Emily,
      I think the key for us as disciples is making sure that our “different wants in life” line up with scripture. I’m *not* saying “yours don’t” or “hers don’t” or “those do/don’t”. But I’m saying that our hearts are deceitful and wicked & we are often infected with unbiblical priorities or “wants” by the culture around us.

      We all need to pray for discernment that we are calling good what God calls “good.”

      • renee says:

        I only read the comments down to here, so I apologize if this has already been said. But I wanted to add my summary of all this: our attitude should be that kids are blessings and we need to be tired for God, whichever direction He takes us, whether single or married, small family or large, we should be working hard for His glory. We should check our motives whether we want a couple kids or a ton, and we should be wary of comparing our paths with others’.

        • Jess Connell says:

          Excellent comment, Renee! I wholeheartedly agree:

          our attitude should be that kids are blessings and we need to be tired for God, whichever direction He takes us, whether single or married, small family or large, we should be working hard for His glory. We should check our motives whether we want a couple kids or a ton, and we should be wary of comparing our paths with others’.

  23. Laura says:

    And the thing is, I know all of this. I know that even now, if I don’t rely on Him I falter through my days. It’s what He’s been teaching me the last couple of years. So I’m not really sure why I think it’d be any different with another child. He’d still be there, walking with me , giving grace for all the extra emotions a new baby would bring….. I’m so caught up in my own fear of the unknown, I think. I really think that underlying all of this back and forth in my heart is just simple fear. So maybe I need to start praying about this neglected area of my heart.

    Thank you SO much for taking the time to write out such a thoughtful response to my questions. It means more than you know. I got my best friend reading your blog now and we often say how nice it would be to sit down for a cup of tea and a chat with Jess 😀 Your advice is always so balanced and filled with wisdom.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Yes. That’s what I think I have come to realize. I remember a sweet, godly friend of mine (a mom of 6 at that time), about 15-20 years ago, saying “every time I see the positive sign on a pregnancy test, I think, ‘oh… OK, Lord… I guess there’s *MORE* selfishness you want to work out of me.” At the time, I thought, “she’s the sweetest lady I know. There is no WAY she has more selfishness that needs worked out!”

      Now I know what she meant. Each baby brings an additional measure of blessing and an additional measure of selflessness and responsibility.

      Thank you for being open & vulnerable, willing to talk through something so sensitive and near to your heart. And by the way- I am *so* down with sitting down over coffee/tea for a good conversation. Let’s hope for that one day. :)

      Jess

  24. Heidi says:

    I think people should stop having babies when it gets to the point that my tax dollars are paying for any portion of their ” family planning”. And for two income families, it is expensive. $1200 per month when both are full time for day care. $600 per month for health insurance for 2 kids. Diapers, clothes, dance class, sports, etc. so yeah….. If you can’t feed ’em…..don’t breed ’em. I can barely pay for mine. I don’t need to pay for the test of society’s as well. Reality Bites.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Interestingly Heidi there may be many here who would agree with you. The way to change that isn’t through blog comments, though, but by talking with your congressman about the standards the government sets for how tax dollars are approved for social programs.

      For my part, we don’t take your tax dollars, and don’t do much of anything you mentioned (day care, dance class, sports). We purposefully work to live and give generously from within our means.

      Thanks for chiming in.

  25. Sarah Taylor says:

    The article was good but the comments and replies from the author are even better in my opinion. I just had my first child at the age 40 and I hope to be able to have at least one more before my clock ticks out. I married late in life and my husband is 7 years younger than I. I run two companies where we treat children with autism… A work I feel is very important to our Heavenly Father. With that being said, I have never experienced so much joy, stress, love, tiredness, and sickness in all my life as I have being a parent. Being a parent is loaded emotionally… And I know this because for 40 years I didn’t have the huge burden of these intense emotions. I guess it meant to be this way so that we would take the stewardship very seriously. Anyway, my belief of having children is that I don’t want to run faster than I have strength. I also want to carry my stewardship well, meaning I feel like I need to follow all of the other commandments God has given me in balance with the commandment to multiple and replenish the earth…. Such as keeping a house of order, treating my body like a temple, do not live beyond our means, nourish the relationship I have with my husband, and fulfill all of the other callings to serve. I’m not saying that having children takes a back seat to all other commandments but rather I don’t want parevting to be my only seat. Also your children are not children for very long, they grow up and develop more complex problems. Parents don’t always realize that either and don’t consider what parenting adults is like. I’m not saying that shouldn’t keep parents from having children but If I had the option of endless children it would be well prayed and thought out. I don’t think God only wants me to make a decision because I feel good about it. Emotions are ever changing and cannot be relied on solely to make choices. I believe I am here on earth to learn to control and manage my emotions wisely. Some of the best decisions I have made in my life did not have the warm and fuzzy feelings attached to them. But I studied the matter out in my mind and sought the guidence of the Holy Ghost and sometimes all that happened was that I was protected from making the wrong decision. My point being everyone has a threshhold and sometime tiredness is that threshhold that keeps them from having children. Not because it is selfish but because they can’t keep a balance between all of the other commandments and are not able to steward well their mission to be a parent. So for the author the feeling of tiredness is not a factor in keeping her from having children but for another parent it may be the very reason they should not. Tiredness is different for everyone. Anyway just my thoughts.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Hi Sarah,
      I really appreciated this part of your comment:

      I don’t think God only wants me to make a decision because I feel good about it. Emotions are ever changing and cannot be relied on solely to make choices. I believe I am here on earth to learn to control and manage my emotions wisely. Some of the best decisions I have made in my life did not have the warm and fuzzy feelings attached to them.

      I have found this true in my own life as well.

  26. Adelle says:

    Thank you for sharing all your wonderful thoughts on motherhood, & how being tired shouldn’t solely be the reason we choose not have more children. I love how you said (in essence) that anything of value is worth the work we put towards it; because in life, there is so much to be valued, especially concerning our relationships! While reading the comments you also mentioned that God will make us equal to the task He sets before us, & I believe that to be true. So many of the truths you have shared could also be applied to other areas of life as well. Thank you for so eloquently wording the feelings I have had inside, but didn’t know how to express.

  27. Amy says:

    this was beautiful….. well put. when people ask me the same question I turn and ask them if it is the culture that has turned them against God setting the amount of children they will have? I think it all boils down to being selfish. They are not thinking about children, they are thinking about themselves and the inconvenience of their lives are…. sad really….. the world has stopped looking at children as God’s blessings…..

    • Jess Connell says:

      Amy, I think we need to be cautious about diagnosing selfishness as the motivations of others, just as we don’t want them to assign those motives to us (some have done that in these very comments)… many couples feel nervous or cautious about it for a variety of reasons (again, some have shared those things in the comments here).

      The 1.87 total fertility rate for the U.S.– how many children a woman can be expected to have if birth rates continue (2.1 per woman being “replacement rate”)– is part of the air we breathe. (Article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/29/us-birth-rate-increases_n_5413030.html ) As believers who DO value the blessing of eternal souls, we need to extend grace to those who see things differently than we do, or who aren’t yet sure what to make of it.

  28. Bethany says:

    I feel like the comment isn’t about the exhaustion part itself, but the kind of people who constantly complain about being exhausted because of their kids. I am always tired- I hit the pillow at night and can’t keep my eyes open! Would I change the cleaning up, the play time, the days at the park, keeping up on housework, etc? HEAVENS NO!! I adore my little boys! My life is certainly fuller because of their presence! They are wonderful little humans that I am privileged to be around. So in that sense, I completely agree with the sentiment of having more children.

    I struggle when a woman is constantly belittling her children, complaining about having “so many,” complaining about not being able to have nice things, talking about how her body is ruined because of her kids, complaining about pregnancy, talking about how exhausted she is all the time, how she can’t keep up on her housework, etc- you get the idea, but then happily announces that “baby number 5 (or 2 or 7) is on the way!” I can’t wrap my brain around WHY she is having another if her other 4 (or 1 or 6) are making her life so difficult (though often times I truly believe it is not our children who make our lives difficult- it is us making our lives difficult by choosing our attitude- another story for another time)! Because all of her outward sentiments DO NOT support the idea that she believes the way you and I do- that children are a gift, wonderful treasures.

    I would not be a good parent to 7 children, that is not a skill I have. Nor do I think (even with my Faith) that it is something that would ever be a strength God could give me. Could I do 3? Sure. Would I be good at 3? No. I am good at 2. I have what I want and need- in most aspects of my life. If things changed a little, would I have a 3rd? If that’s in His plan for me, then yeah, and I’d love a 3rd as much as I love my others, but I can honestly say I don’t think I’d be excited until they were 1 😉

    Great article, great comments. Glad to see positivity, rather than cutting down- even the comments that disagree aren’t cutting toward others specifically. That’s a breath of fresh air :)

    • Jess Connell says:

      Bethany,
      I think we can all say something similar to what you said…

      I am not a good mom of 11 (using the same measure as you, 5 more children than what I currently have). I also would not be (today) a good _____________(whatever I’ll be 6-10 years from now)____________.

      Just a little pushback to the idea that because we aren’t good at something today, we would never be good at it. This applies to all variety of spheres of life, not just motherhood.

      We don’t limit the potential for God’s work in our life, and our own sanctification, based on our struggles & limitations today. He is able to do exceeding abundantly more than we can ask, think, or imagine.

  29. Amy says:

    The timing of this is amazing, I haven’t seen your site in quite some time, and as I had just looked for it recently a couple of times and wondered why I was getting an American Girl doll when I typed in Jess MC Connell… :)

    A very dear, old, veteran homeschooling, unbelieving friend of mine came to stay with us overnight this past weekend – Oct. 4-th – 5th. We went out for coffee with no children, and she looked at me point-blank and said, “please do not have more children.” Her concern was for me, my mental health, but I had no idea how to respond. I’ve had to reflect on my lack of trust in God to get me through the rough times with small kids, and I’ve had to reflect on my own bad behavior in regards to being so weary and sleep-deprived… and I wondered, is she right? Have I done a terrible job at raising kids because I’ve been sleep-deprived and angry and listening to the world tell me I should have so much “me” time…. and she has witnessed me in a rough spot (but it was over two years ago, and only one time!) and it affected her so deeply that she told me not to have any more children! And I didn’t know what to say, except that it was unlikely that I would because of age etc.

    And I’ve been trying to figure out what to say to her in response ever since. And what I came up with is some of what you have written here, that it’s WORTH the sacrifice if it brings an amazing soul into being. And most days I truly am willing to cooperate with God’s plan to bring more souls, I love my family, I want this lifestyle. It’s amazing to realize how crazy the unbelieving people are, actually, in that they stop having kids on purpose after just one or two or three – in one breath they say how wonderful and amazing their children are and the very next breath they are saying they would never do it again! This didn’t come out eloquently at all but I am amazed at God’s timing, for his providence in bringing me here to read EXACTLY what I needed to read even though I haven’t “followed” you in a very long time. I want to write her a letter very prayerfully explaining these things… (we’re mail pails, if you can believe people still write letters!) though I wonder if I should keep these thoughts to myself if it would not be heard the right way.

    Congrats again on another baby coming! We were briefly in the same DDC at MDC for Feb. 2013. :)

    • Amy says:

      I meant to say that the date of publication doesn’t post with your posts. Maybe that is just my current browser’s problem. There are dates in the comments.

      I just got back from a quick errand, and while I was out I saw a vanity plate on a big SUV that said “2sanuff.” Maybe they mean two cars are enough or two houses or two cats, but I assume they meant that they are happy to have cut off their fertility at two children. Then again it could be that they hoped for a dozen but were only given the gift of two, and are trying their best to accept their circumstances. It is hard not to judge, but in our culture it’s so easy to jump to the obvious conclusion.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Fun! (And I had no idea there was a similarly-named American Girl doll, LOL!)

      I’m glad we’re back in touch. Tell me, what’s DDC & MDC… write me privately if need be– jess (at) jessconnell (dot) com — I am lost, haha!

      • Amy says:

        Mothering dot com and due date club! We were there together briefly but I found it wasn’t the right environment for me anymore! I didn’t see you post much either after the initial bunch.

        • Jess Connell says:

          Thanks for filling me in. We’ve had so much change over the years that there are too many options for where I’ve known someone from. :) You’re right; I went there for a short time & then didn’t find my “fit.” Glad we’ve reconnected.

  30. Brittany says:

    LOVE this :) Thank you for writing! We have 8 kids. My husband had 5 from a previous marriage and I adopted them and we’ve had 3 together. I still feel like I want 1 more but my husband is on the fence. Our youngest son, 22 months old (# 7 in birth order) is autistic and I just naturally worry we’d have another autistic child. Our youngest, a girl, is 2 mos old and I worry about her. I am a Christian and know God is my comforter and of course has a plan… But our son requires A TON of attention, therapies, drs appnts so on and so forth. But your article was very inspirational and even if we don’t have anymore, I am in love with our huge family. Wouldn’t have it any other way :) God Bless!

    • Jess Connell says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Brittany. And yes, your sort of careful weighing of what you are able to steward *WELL*, especially with the added concerns of medical issues & therapy appointments, while purposefully reminding yourselves of God’s plans & care, is exactly the sort of careful, Godward thinking I appreciate.

      God bless you!

    • CJ says:

      Hi Brittany,

      We have 4 children (the youngest is just 2 weeks old), and our oldest, who’s 8, has both moderate Autism and severe Epilepsy. I understand what you’re talking about with regards to appointments, etc! We were told when our oldest was an infant that we had a 1 in 10 chance of having another child like her – every time we have another we feel like we’re rolling the dice. But as we see it, we have a 9 in 10 chance of having a perfectly healthy baby – and those are good odds!

      And you know what? It’s all worked out lovely. Our daughter learns so much from her younger siblings, who are her “big siblings” too. They naturally want to protect and help her, and we’ve seen nothing but benefits from her having brothers and sisters. Too many families decide “not again” after having a child with a disability, and that really is a shame in so many ways. Is it easy? No. But knowing she has a family that loves and protects her, even once we’re gone, is worth the effort.

  31. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for this post and your comments Jess! This conversation has really impacted me and the way I was thinking about having children and being tired, especially this:

    “You know, though, I still remember: I was tired after having my first. It took me about six months to feel anywhere near “normal,” and even then, it wasn’t the same “normal” I’d had before having him. I was tired. The workload was far more than I’d anticipated. The wear and tear on my body (which was larger than it had ever been) was considerable.”

    YES! I feel like I need to embrace the new normal tiredness more instead of letting it freak me out. When I talked to my DH about this last night he even confirmed that I seem to get overly upset about being tired and that he feels tired a lot and it is fine. Lord help me! I have to remember that I have enough energy to accomplish what the Lord has for me in His power daily but not all my wants or society’s expectations.

    I thought moms that kept persevering in childbearing were more energetic, has some special way of dealing with tiredness, had easy kids, or something I did not get! I have 3 children, homeschool two of them, and would love to have more but thought I had to find some magical solution to tiredness before I could get pregnant again. ( I am not talking about utter exhaustion or a chronic over-stressed life here. That is something that I think we need to be careful of to stay mentally well). Now I feel like I don’t have to wait for that elusive time to come and can be content in this season of life.

    Hopefully my ramble made sense! Many blessings to you and know that the Lord is working through you and your writing!

    • Jess Connell says:

      Jennifer,

      You said:
      I thought moms that kept persevering in childbearing were more energetic, has some special way of dealing with tiredness, had easy kids, or something I did not get! I have 3 children, homeschool two of them, and would love to have more but thought I had to find some magical solution to tiredness before I could get pregnant again. ( I am not talking about utter exhaustion or a chronic over-stressed life here. That is something that I think we need to be careful of to stay mentally well). Now I feel like I don’t have to wait for that elusive time to come and can be content in this season of life.

      I’m so glad to have communicated this to you, because it’s absolutely true. I don’t think I have some sort of unlimited supply of energy available to me, aside from the Spirit & grace of God, which is available to us all. :)

      Thanks for writing & letting me know what encouraged you.

  32. Vanessa Samuel says:

    Thank you!

  33. Rachel says:

    Thanks for your comments on this issue. I know that you started out defending the position of having more children, but I mainly appreciate how you do not think that women with many children are more godly than those of us whose fertility is or has been more limited. I would absolutely love to have more children, but I battled Stage III cancer a few years ago and had to have a total hysterectomy as a result. We would love to adopt again, but another infant through a domestic adoption is out of the question due to the ever-increasing adoption fees. You said that children aren’t THAT expensive; well, we spent many tens of thousands of dollars in order to adopt. We do believe that it may be God’s plan for us to adopt a child through foster care, so the paperwork and classes are done in case it’s His will. After way too many years of experiencing pain through comments of “Fertile Myrtles” and quiverful advocates who are just not able to understand how devastating infertility (whether primary or secondary) can be, I am extremely thankful to be in a church where children are loved and cherished, yet the worth and value of women is not tied to the fruit (or lack thereof) of their wombs. It’s based solely upon who each of them is in Christ, and it allows each of us to freely accept God’s plan for us. Not once have I heard, “All my husband has to do is look at me, and I get pregnant!” It’s been a true balm to my soul, and I am finally at peace with the number of children God has ordained for me.

    • Jess Connell says:

      You’re right that adoption costs can be astronomical, and even the “costs” of foster care-to-adoption (by that I mean the process and paperwork) are nothing to sneeze at.

      Thanks for openly sharing your story. I have heard many women express pain over comments received over not having large families… though we have a large family, a strong desire of my heart is that I never want to contribute to that pain in the lives of others through comments or implications. I appreciate you sharing here.

    • Lou Lynn says:

      Rachel, please email me. I have a Christian attorney who completed the adoption of my 5th child. (3rd adoption). I don’t usually share his info, but God led me to give it to you if you’re interested. His fees are the lowest I’ve ever heard of… He does this to serve the Lord. lou0728@yahoo.com

  34. Christine J. says:

    So!! I’m in so much agreement. I’m also in that 4 kids under 6yrs phase…and I need some advice. You seem like just the kind of Mother who could help me with your solutions. What kind of words, methods, suggestions do you have for teaching your little one’s to become, like you put it, less of consumers- and more of helpful house managers??? My children can be very helpful, resourceful etc. but at what point did your children start taking more initiative(and how did you teach them to do that??!). Right now, I’m tired. And pregnant with our fifth(unexpected blessing). We were in the process of trying to “get on top of things” in our lives, when this little blessing popped up. No one understands us, I’m not about to even TELL people I’m pregnant yet, I’d like to keep it a special and positive secret between my family for now). Thank you for the great article!!! ~Chrissy

    • Jess Connell says:

      Chrissy.
      I will put that on my “to write” draft list for next week. Suffice it to say, when I had 4 kids 6 and under it pretty much all fell on me. At 6/7 is when I start to see the slightest first turn from consumer to capable helper.

      Thanks for your comment – keep Galatians 6:8-9, Isaiah 40:11, James 1:5, and Galatians 5:7 were all encouraging to me during that highly-dependent, all-on-my-shoulders season. Press on!

  35. Donna says:

    This was a great article! I am a mother of six children. My children range in age from 11-20. Five of them are boys! I remember when my children were all small and I was so tired. I called my mother crying because I felt like I would never sleep again. I felt like I would never feel normal again and that I was not a good mom because of it. Even as I was going through all of that I never would have changed it for anything. Children are truely a blessing from The Lord. My mother had five children and her advice was to pray for strength and peace. It also helps to have people to talk to that know what you are going through. Every mother at some point is tired and worn out. It’s important for mothers to realize that they are not alone. I am here to tell you that this too shall pass. It is unbelievable how fast time flies. It feels like only yesterday that I had a bunch of little people running around my house getting into things they shouldn’t. Now I have a bunch of big people running around the house getting into things they shouldn’t. Lol I no longer feel completely exhausted. I now have different challenges than what I had when my children were little. In every new stage and in every new “crisis” I turn to The Lord and ask for Wisdom in everything.
    Some people were talking about how people judged them for having a large family. I had relatives who told me we should stop too. They would say how much work all these children would be, you can’t afford them, how will you pay for their college? I now have two college students, two high school students, two jr. High students and I also have gone back to college. I help my boys with some of their college payments but they have taken out loans and are working to pay their way through college. God has always supplied all of our needs. Now those same people who criticized us for having such a large family are complementing us on what a good job we have done. We could not have done it without God. The most important thing to me is that my children will continue to love and follow God. My oldest son will be getting married next summer. It is hard to believe and it does not feel like it was that long ago since I was where you ladies are today.

  36. Caitlyn says:

    Thank you so much, not only for the article, but also for all of the replies and comments.

  37. Lou Lynn says:

    I have 2 biological children and 3 adopted children. My husband and I have also started an adoption/orphan care ministry at our church, so who knows if 5 is our final number of children? Only The Lord does. So many times God uses infertility to lead us to our children… After our 3rd child we had so many people asking us “why we were adopting AGAIN’. “Weren’t we satisfied with the ones we had?” Some people and even family members stated that I needed to just be thankful for the children i already had. GASP. LOL. I’m so thankful we listened to Jesus and NOT to people. I am accountable to Him only, and if He sees fit to bless us with children, then we are thankful. Is it easy? Heck no. Adopted blessings always come with a past and strongholds from their birth families that have to be broken. Is it expensive? You betcha. BUT I have never known The Lord to leave a child as an orphan over money. He sends it… I could go on and on about the ways He provided for our adoptions and our children. God LOVES to show out in adoptions. :) I respect anyone and the decisions they make for their families. God speaks to us all a little differently, just as we speak differently to our children. He does tell us to CARE for orphans, and I’m so thankful to you for obeying that. Even though not everyone is called to adopt everyone is called to care for orphans and widows. If any of your readers have godly friends adopting chip in! Even $10 makes a difference… My husband works hard to provide for our family, and God has blessed us so much! I am tired. I am stressed. I am also in love with all of my children and am so thankful for them. Sure. If hadn’t obeyed and adopted I’d probably have more money.. more rest….more days of pedicures and hair appointments, but I wouldn’t have those 3 children who God trusted me to rescue from the life the enemy had planned for them….. I look into those eyes and remind myself, “God chose YOU to be their mama. He knew it was going to be tough, but He still chose YOU.” It’s so humbling to know that for all of our children He chose US! He could’ve chosen ANY woman in the world to be the mama to these spirits, but He chose US… And He continues to choose YOU…. Be blessed Jess. Thank you for speaking so truthfully and beautifully.

  38. Sheri C says:

    Thank you for this wonderful discussion. As a mother of 4 ages 20 years to 18 months, the comments I have received from strangers and acquaintances alike run from “are you done yet?” to “wow…what made you decide to do that?” complete with condescending tone of voice.

    I thought I was “done” when my first marriage fell apart and the divorce and ensuing custody battle took my children from my every day care. But in that difficult time, I met and married my wonderful, supportive, and amazing husband. We then had our 2 little boys together, my teenaged daughter stood up to her father in court and came back home to us, and my oldest son moved in with my mother and cut ties with the father and step mother who hurt him so emotionally. I am grateful every day that the Lord cared enough for my children and I to:
    1) Clear away the distraction and pain of a bad marriage
    2) Give me the opportunity and the strength to keep being a mother to my older children even though I was not able to be with them every day.
    3) Provide a positive father role model in my 2nd husband (especially to counteract the negativity my older two have experienced)
    4) Bring so much laughter and fun in the form of our littles and the joy of having our teenager back with us to heal the wounds of the years of not being able to be a full time parent.

    What I have learned is simply my plans are flawed, God’s plans are perfect. When I lost my children in that custody battle I never thought i would ever know joy or peace or even calmness of spirit again. Now I know it was all part of his plan for me to grow as a person and to be able to truly appreciate the gifts children bring into this world. Motherhood and the exhaustion it may bring are so very precious to me…because it means I am parenting full time to the best of my flawed and ever growing ability.

    As a 41 year old woman who delivers children well but doesn’t necessarily carry them well in pregnancy we are prayerfully considering if another blessing has time to arrive before my clock ticks out and if it would be wise given the health concerns of the last two pregnancies. But whenever I start to feel any anxiety or stress about the matter I try to remember to just continue to pray and know that the answer will come in God’s time and not mine and if I am “done” it’s because that God knows what I am capable of stewarding well.

    God bless and thanks for your thoughtful post and comments.

  39. Rose says:

    I appreciate the loving way that you have approached this subject! It is a touchy one for so many on both sides! And I want to attempt to lovingly bring up some concerns that I have with this perspective. I am from a fairly large family myself (5), and I have the opportunity to observe many large families; both within my extended family and circle of friends. I am currently pregnant with my first baby; so I am taking notes! :) I feel that there can be so much self-centeredness on the “small family” side, which is not God-honoring and so detrimental, but I also have concerns on the “large family” side. My questions/concerns…is it wise to continue having children when the children are homeschooled, but there is very little education going on, when there is severe financial trouble looming, when there are emotional struggles both in mothers and children that are not being addressed and/or resolved, when the development of work ethic is lacking due to the inability to consistently require and observe follow- thru in assigned chores, and when houses are in complete disarray on a regular basis? I am definitely not assigning these characteristics to every large family, but I have observed this pattern in many large families and am disappointed and saddened. I feel strongly that we are to be good stewards of what God has given us, and that includes the ability to have children, but I don’t feel that large families with these characteristics are achieving that. I think the key is balance! In all of the situations in which I have observed these characteristics, it seems that there is a common thread: the people involed are working outside the boundaries set for them by their human limitations. We need to know our limits, and take in to consideration the fact that everyone’s limits are different.

  40. Esther says:

    Jess, SO appreciate this post and all the ensuing comments. My husband and I came to realize early that, although we would most likely never be blessed with boatloads of money and possessions, the ‘things’ we WOULD be able to give our children were a rich Christian heritage and a loving large family. I was #11 of 12 but he was first of two, (although his mother had been told she could never have children and had several miscarriages) so it was more of a stretch for him than for me. We never set a number but knew God would tell us ‘when’. We have had seasons of planned pregnancies seasons of using conception controls that failed and seasons of seeming infertility and a miscarriage along the way. With my sixth pregnancy, God surprised us with spontaneous triplets! I was 37 and we had children ages 12, 10, 5, and 2 when they were born. When I had them by c-section @ 36 weeks, we made the decision to have my tubes tied at the same time. Most people figure it was the easiest decision to make but it was actually the hardest thing we have done and only did it after much prayer and discussion and a realization that it was God’s ‘when’, since the odds of me having multiples again was increased and would put my health at risk – the stewardship factor you speak of.
    As for the ‘costs’…thrift stores, hand-me-downs (including from family and friends that we exchange back and forth with) and clearance sales are essentials. If they want ‘new/designer’ otherwise, they have earned the money themselves to purchase them – although most often they have decided their hard-earned money is better saved or used for cheaper, more abundant purchases.
    I have many dear friends who have wrestled with infertility so I know just how blessed we are to have the family God has given us (which now includes one amazing grandson as well)
    My triplets, now 14, were the youngest of my parents 51 grandchildren and the absolute delight of my father in the last 4 of his almost 95 years.
    Thank you again for your eloquence and transparency

  41. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for this blog post and all of your thoughtful responses to comments. It is so refreshing to see someone who has a true love for people.

    As a Mom of a lonely only due to medical problems, yet who wanted as many as God would give, I really appreciate your wisdom and concern for those of us who cannot have more children biologically. We are praying about adoption.

    I especially appreciate the candidness of you and other Moms about your tiredness and struggle to have the right attitude. Even though I only have one very lively special needs seven year old boy, I have to work daily on my attitude towards his “neediness” and constant high level of noise and activity. You see, because there are no other children in our family, I am not only Momma and Teacher (we homeschool), I am his primary playmate and friend. This is a wonderful blessing, yet also a very demanding position. I have to admit I find myself staying in the bathroom longer than necessary just to have time alone to think! We are working very hard to teach him to be others centered and to establish boundaries for him that will strengthen him socially. Most of all. I want him to know and love Christ. This is where I feel most guilty because I am not the example of Christ’s love that I should be, and also why I hesitate to pursue adoption. Yet it is for those very reasons why I think God is leading us to adopt. All three of us need to be pushed out of our comfort zones to accept another precious soul into our family, so we can turn more and more to Christ who will shower us with all of the love, mercy and grace that we need to help lead another little one to Him. What a privilege He gives us in caring for His gifts!
    Thank you again for your wonderful post and faithfulness to the calling God has placed on your life!

    • Jess Connell says:

      Jennifer,
      What a testimony! Yes, LOL, I think we all have to be pushed out of our comfort zones from time to time; God is good to do that for us, forcing us to be sharpened and shaped we’d never choose on our own. I pray God will make your way clear, and that you ail have much wisdom for the journey ahead of you, whatever it entails!

  42. Greg Webster says:

    Great perspectives, Jess! It’s interesting that people generally don’t use “tiredness” as a reason not to work hard to make as much money as possible. You might enjoy some additional thoughts I’ve had about the rightness of having children: http://creativecountryviews.wordpress.com/2010/02/

  43. Sherry Hayes says:

    Bless you, dear young lady. This has been true for me with my fifteen children!

  44. AmyK says:

    How many kids??? I don’t see how ANY answer is wrong to this question as we are all different and unique human beings with very different attributes and abilities to give to this world. For some people the answer is none. For some it is 12. For some it is in between. The important thing for people to make sure they realize is they are doing what is right for THEM. Don’t do things because your friends are doing it. Don’t do it because your family wants you to. Don’t do it simply because you think that is just how life is supposed to be. Figure out what is right for YOUR life, and then don’t judge others for whatever their choice is. Because, for all the people out there who are criticized for having X number of kids, there are others out there being criticized for having none. More likely than not, the parents complaining for being judged for having a larger family are on the flip side judging a couple who (by their own choice) has none. Personally, I cannot imagine having any more than the two I already have. That is my limit for the person God has made me. But if someone else can handle more, and are able to care for them without the perpetual help of others (not to be interpreted as the occasional help from others, as we all can fall on hard times) then I don’t see an issue with the choices people make – from zero to twenty kids.

  45. Becky says:

    Thank you so much for your post, Jess. I have really enjoyed reading through all the comments. GREAT discussions going on here! I am so thankful you are getting this message out there. I pray that many young couples will read this and be encouraged to look to God’s perspective on children (they are a BLESSING) rather than the world’s perspective (they are a burden). I have 4 children that were born at 15-18 month intervals. We were not expecting to be so fertile, especially after my husband’s bought with cancer! After we had our 4th child in 4 1/2 years, my husband had a vasectomy. I SOOO regret it! In hindsight, we made a rash decision, mostly because our stress level was very intense with 4 little ones. My youngest is almost 5 now and I see how that season of “intense stress” was simply that…. a season. Things have significantly calmed down now that my 4 are older and I desire more children. We are unable to biologically, but are praying about when welcome more little ones into our family through foster care and adoption. I wish someone would have discouraged us in making a permanent D.O.N.E. decision. I echo your advice to joyfully welcome ALL the precious little ones God may bring into your family!!

    • Jess Connell says:

      Becky,
      The interesting thing about stories like yours (of which I’ve heard many, over the years) is that it makes me MORE likely now to consider temporarily “pressing the pause button” when I feel overwhelmed in various seasons, to allow room for future consideration and prayer in regard to having more children, rather than making me want to yell “STOP!” Because along with many children there are DEFINITELY seasons of feeling overwhelmed or stress as a mom of a large family.

      I would love to hear more women encouraging freedom to temporarily “pause” rather than making it an all-or-nothing prospect.

      I have heard a number of families that had a vasectomy, and then later a reversal, take a hardline stance about family planning after having their reversal, and I can’t help but think, “What if those years of “pause” and rest were what enabled mom to have the space and sanity she needed to be able to keep going, in a way that she would not have been able to do when she was in the midst of the stress and strain of many many little children?” I have also encountered, sadly, many mothers who have dealt with severe medical and mental issues resulting from years of non-stop childbearing.

      It’s one reason I write a good amount about self-care and careful stewardship of MOM as an invaluable resource for the family.

      (See these articles if you haven’t:
      “Avoiding Burnout: Intentionally Stewarding Ourselves”
      “10 Essential Self-Care Habits For Moms” )

      It is also one reason why I do not advocate a hardcore “quiver full” stance. I think we need to be honest about the strain of having many little ones, and offer grace and compassion to women who are having children NOW, in a society that does not tend to value children, often with a church “family” that does not value children (once it’s more than the standard 2 or 3), and often in a setting where that mother is (more likely than not) many states away from her family support structure.

      It is no easy task to have, care for, home educate, and raise many children, and it’s not something where we can live/ride on someone else’s convictions. We each need to go before the Lord and see what He would have us do– not riding on the convictions of culture, nor on the convictions of another.

      God will be our Shepherd, and our job is to constrain ourselves to listen for His voice.

      • Michelle says:

        One of the things that I always remember, is that in the Old Testament, Leah and Rachel are excellent examples of different motherhood. Of course Rachel experienced infertility, which was especially hard when her older sister, and first wife of Jacob, was very fertile and had many boys.

        Even in this period of prosperous childbearing, we read “And she (Leah) conceived again, and bare a son (her fourth): and she said, Now will I praise the Lord: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.” (Genesis 29:35)

        “Left bearing” means that Leah stopped having children for awhile, whether by abstinence, timing methods, or herbs. So even in the Old Testament we learn about women who were infertile, women who were fertile, and the choices they made in regards to their own situations.

        I have four daughters, ages 7,5,3, and 1. My youngest has some very, very mild special needs. My husband just started grad school, which we didn’t know would be happening when we got pregnant with our fourth. But God led us to this point and so we living financially frugal for the next little bit. We garden, can, sew, recycle and repurpose, thrift shop or do without. Our daughters know how to grind grain, make bread (with our help!), cook from scratch and find joy in simple pleasures, like playing in the rain or going to the library. No, they are involved in extracurricular a. But they have a wonderful childhood, full of people who love them at church, at home and at school. They have parents who read to them, explore the outdoors, teach them life skills and help them grow. They have days filled with lots of free time to imagine and play, which is how children learn anyway! Most of all they have parents who love them, sisters to play with, and a healthy, simple life. It isn’t much, but it’s more thn enough for us. We have found great joy in our life.

        Will we have more? I suspect that we will. But as we learn to manage our youngest daughter, and as we live in this period of graduate school, we have decided to wait a little longer before adding another precious soul to our family. I don’t feel selfish for having four and wanting more, nor do I feel selfish for waiting awhile. This is what is best for me and my family. As I counseled with The Lord about a fifth child, I have felt peace knowing that it doesn’t have to be right now.

        What is right for your family is what you decide with God’s help! No one else’s opinion matters. Only you know your family strengths and weaknesses.

        • Michelle says:

          Sorry, I made a mistake. My girls are not involved in any extracurricular activities. It didn’t come out right above!

  46. Fearless Mamma says:

    We should be careful about calling it selfishness when someone knows their personal limitations. I know women who are overwhelmed with two children and “DONE”. They knew when THEY needed to stop. I don’t know that for them and I shouldn’t make it my business.
    I have five, and I did that because I believed much of the rhetoric presented here and in the comments. There was no honest voice in my life telling me I’d pay $20/hr for a sitter, or mentioning the strain this would be on my family as they try to support me when I’m so exhausted I cannot move.

    We need to stop talking about it like it’s easy. It IS costly to have many children and it’s silly to say that it’s not. However, we should count the cost, weigh in what we feel is our limit, and find it worthwhile.

  47. Eleventh Child says:

    I came from a huge family (more then 10). I do know I would not be here if my parents would have stopped at 10, and I know that I was loved. Yet, I do not recommend having a big family, unless you are sure you can give every child the love and attention they deserve. In these large families, there is most probably a child who isn’t getting the love, attention, respect they deserve. Not every child will let you know what they need. They are good at pretending, pretending they are happy, pretending they feel like they belong, pretending about most everything. Being apart of a big family isn’t always a blessing for the child. Thought maybe you would might want hear from the other prospective.

    • Jess Connell says:

      I’m not sure anyone (even a mom of one) can be “sure” that they can give every child the love and attention they deserve. We don’t even know if God will let us live beyond today. We don’t know what curveballs life will throw at us. I do think we need to be prayerful and thoughtful stewards of what God gives us, including, of course, our children, as well as our own physical and mental health. But I think your argument can go just as easily toward many people who grow up in smaller families.

      The exact thing you said could be said of smaller families: “Being a part of a small family isn’t always a blessing for the child.”

      We all need to be cautious not to throw stones, or to have a “grass is greener” mentality that causes us to see one option as all good or another as all bad. Every choice has its downfalls and can be poorly carried out.

    • Emily says:

      “there is most probably a child who isn’t getting the love, attention, respect they deserve”. I’m not sure what that would look like , or how it is even humanly possibly to evenly & fairly spread out attention, and displays of love/affection amongst children. Even2 or 3 children. There are probably times when a certain child “needs” more attention (say, a 2 year old who is needing frequent discipline and training), Or a teenage daughter who is working through emotions and a difficult time. Just giving examples. It’s just not possible (or necessary in my opinion) to be striving to EVENLY distribute every bit of our parenting attention amongst all of our children.

      I immediately thought of this article when I read your comment… Jess just posted it today! Maybe you will find it helpful..

      http://www.tosowaseed.net/2015/10/16/im-not-the-mother-i-wanted-to-be/

  48. 860905 says:

    First of all, I will say I am not married and do not plan to have children until I am married. So I am speaking from a non-mother/parent position here.

    That said, I have a lot of personal contact with “big families”. My own family has 4 which today is considered “big” even though growing up I wouldn’t have necessarily thought so! I have seen the joy, the love, the wonderful gift of life come out of these families and would never tell someone that having a big family is “selfish” in and of itself – because the reality is that it is pretty much the opposite. It requires huge amounts of sacrifice!

    But that brings me to my point, which is to say that it is SOMETIMES maybe even OFTENTIMES not what we are doing that is selfish but why we are doing it… I have seen Christian couples say they will not have kids or begrudge in some ways the kids they have and I have seen Christian families, big families, craft an extra-Biblical identity out of their big family (“using” the Bible) – making it very much about them and their ideas and “convictions” and very little about living out the Jesus-style Gospel. Both cause extreme pain…again I have seen this first hand – both types of pain.

    I think the big family movement (as I will call it from here on out for lack of better terminology) on some levels is truly great because it promotes life and the God-given family unit. But there is a lot out there that preaches a big family for all the wrong reasons and does indeed fall into selfishness and pride just as easily as someone who says they are a Christian while at the same time saying they don’t want or don’t “like” kids.

    I have only read this article and many of the comments for this post, but it seems you, Jess, have a balanced perspective, even on the issue of birth-control which is surprising as that is not something you see very often from those who discuss/advocate for/do apologetics for having a big family. So I am not saying you are wrong when you say it is not selfish because you are speaking from your own perspective and life. You love your kids and enjoy them and are living in the grace of God as you take care of them.

    But there is another ugly side to this whole issue – very legalistic, very condemning, and very un-Scriptural. And maybe you will take issue with my being so dogmatic on the this point but I know I am speaking the truth. For many in this big-family movement, someone who says “I’M DONE.”, as you put it, even after welcoming 5 or 6 children in this world, WOULD INDEED be considered selfish. I have seen even some worry about being selfish after waffling over whether or not to continue having children due to legitimate health problems due to these Pharisaical-type ideas that are circulated. This is due to a toxic extra-Biblical culture that surrounds a large segment of the big family movement.

    I pray more women can read balanced perspectives such as yours and make choices based on the grace of God versus extra-Biblical “rules” created by systems of men/humanity. I pray for wisdom for mothers who struggle with the idea of more children – whether or not to have more – and grace for those around them from the Body of Christ instead of hints that they are selfish or that they do not value life because they have questions. A balanced and loving approach to this issue could encourage a whole new generation of big, loving, Christ-centered families that are a tremendous example to the world around them. And I hope those willing to live this life of love within the big family movement will not be afraid to confront those in similar camps when legalism and condemnation are used to manipulate women.

    And as an aside, I think the comment about the true facts of motherhood is also a great point. I seen how much energy and strength and, yes, finances, goes into raising a big family. It IS silly and more than that, not honest, to minimize these issues. People need to count the REAL cost and then having found those little lives worth it, pay it willing, not be conned into it my manipulative or dishonest talk about “big families” and feel cheated or lied to later.

    Okay, end transmission. :)

    • Jess Connell says:

      860905, :)

      First, I appreciated this part of your comment:
      “I have seen the joy, the love, the wonderful gift of life come out of these families and would never tell someone that having a big family is “selfish” in and of itself – because the reality is that it is pretty much the opposite. It requires huge amounts of sacrifice!”

      Thanks for sharing that from your experience.

      Also this?
      “there is a lot out there that preaches a big family for all the wrong reasons and does indeed fall into selfishness and pride just as easily as someone who says they are a Christian while at the same time saying they don’t want or don’t “like” kids.”

      I agree. I have seen a disheartening level of righteousness-found-in-works in the outplay of much of the patriarchy movement, and have been sadly-thankful at the demise of some of those ministries in recent years. We all have to do what Romans 12:3 says and “not think of ourselves more highly than we ought, but to consider ourselves with sober judgment.” I think too much of the “pro-large-family” literature has led to pride & boasting-in-doing, rather than humility & boasting-in-God.

      Thank you for adding your thoughts. I appreciate your candor.
      Jess

  49. Laura says:

    After reading your blog and some of the ensuing comments, my husband and I revisted the topic of “how many?” Which is often filled with mixed emotions between us. At the end of these conversations I usually hear that I don’t know how hard it is for him to be a father. I am a former teacher, nanny, childcare worker, and often baby-sat children. I have always enjoyed children, though my enjoyment doesn’t mean I never face selfishness or tiredness or impatience as a mom of two little ones presently.

    All that to say I don’t think I take parenting lightly or irresponsibly, but perhaps in my mind I do notice the positives and find they outweigh the difficulties when desiring more children. I tend to think that if these two are a delightful blessing, what are we missing in declaring ourselves too spent to actively pursue more. I also know that above all I’m clearly called to follow my husband. I’m thankful for our open communication in this, and desire to more prayerfully seek the Lord for my glad submission to my husband and his to the Lord. My husband is a godly man, seeking the Lord for which I’m blessed.

    Do you have any encouragement to wives in my position who find themselves more ready to accept children than their husbands may be?

    • Jess Connell says:

      Yes I do. Listen to your husband and submit to him. Don’t raise the issue perpetually. Keep your heart open to him and to what God has for you. It is possible his heart will change, and it is possible it will not. Don’t let this issue drive a wedge between you or be a source of contention and bitterness (which is a definite temptation I’ve seen from friends who face that situation). Love him. Love your kids. And accept what God has for you, while submitting (willingly arranging yourself under your God-given authorities) to him.

      :)
      Blessings to you, Laura.

  50. Foppe VanderZwaag says:

    Children are blessings of God packaged as challenges. (father of 9)

  51. Michelle wright says:

    i could have written this about myself. Even this six going on seven. My oldest will be mine soon and I will be 34 on my next birthday. I get stares and comments all the time. Some good some horrible. No matter what though I love having kid. Oh it’s not easy and sometimes there is lost tempers, and sometimes I know I don’t make the best choice, but Gid is with me and I takes problems to Him and he works it out! I will have as many as my health permits and love everyone and every moment!

  52. Elizabeth says:

    Jess, this article was such a blessing to read, and I’ve enjoyed reading the comments and replies as well. I thank you for responding to the critics in such quiet manner. I see that as a testimony and upholding of your faith in Jesus.

    I am a young mother of a one year old with another on the way. Because my husband and I both come from large families, we were already being asked before our wedding “How Many kids will you have?” Or told “I hope you don’t have as many kids as your parents did”. (Counting my family + my inlaws I have 22 siblings)
    Our recent response to the “How many” has been “All of them.” We often see and hear the “you have the rest of your life ahead of you, you should wait wait WAIT.” Life is short, it is inestimable and you are never promised a tomorrow. How then are we to be the judge of when to carry out what we know God has ordained for us.

    While I am in total support of the often criticized large families I should add that I have been around many large families who are as critical as these who think you have too many. I have been in numerous churches where a small family is torn down by the larger ones in the church because they see themselves as what every family should be cookie cut after. I have seen a family with two children torn because when a Pastor asked how many children they had and they responded with “2” the Pastor replied “Oh..” and walked past them as if they weren’t worth anything because they didn’t have a large family. I’ve seen churches fall apart in animosity because of this, and it’s so sad because of the mindset that leads up to it.

    It is not for anyone to say what is right for someone else because God didn’t create us with cookie cutters. He has a different plan for each one of us.

    We look forward to seeing what God has in store for our family. Is it easy? No. There will always be a challenge. Something will go against what you had planned, but God’s plan is perfect.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Elizabeth, so thankful for attitudes like this:

      While I am in total support of the often criticized large families I should add that I have been around many large families who are as critical as these who think you have too many. I have been in numerous churches where a small family is torn down by the larger ones in the church because they see themselves as what every family should be cookie cut after. I have seen a family with two children torn because when a Pastor asked how many children they had and they responded with “2″ the Pastor replied “Oh..” and walked past them as if they weren’t worth anything because they didn’t have a large family. I’ve seen churches fall apart in animosity because of this, and it’s so sad because of the mindset that leads up to it.

      Thank you so much for sharing. We do need to be sensitive to this attitude; I’ve heard this from friends before and don’t ever want to contribute to ideas like the ones you outline.

  53. KC says:

    I love seeing big families. I have had 2 miscarriages, I have 1 son, and another child on the way. Pregnancy is hard on me, and the emotional toll of my last miscarriage was almost too much to bear. I know I want more children, but I don’t need them all to come from this body. I would like to adopt for sure when the time comes. My husband and I are discussing if the child I am pregnant with now will be the last biological one (as much as we are able to control that). We are prayerfully considering it. But I always envisioned have 4 total, so however God wants to do that, I am still open to….mostly. :)

  54. Kim says:

    I came from a large family. While we did many of the things you say you did, it was not a warm place to grow up. It was stressful. There was never enough food, warmth, time, etc. My mother was overwhelmed all the time and the older children ended up being the ones who had to carry the load. Yet, my parents continued to have children. I do think there is a point at which families need to contemplate if they have their hands full. You quoted Douglas Wilson and I appreciate his take on the “big family” question. Just because something is a blessing, doesn’t mean that you need to have it in excess. Wealth and power are blessings. But both of those things can be a curse if they aren’t managed well, to the glory of God. The same is true of children. Taking the time to look around and contemplate “Am I managing my blessings?” is a good thing to do at every stage of adding children to your family. I think that question should be part of these kinds of discussions, with the 1st and the 17th child.

    • Adina says:

      I think there is a lot of wisdom in that. And for this reason I think the decision to have a large or small family is a personal one that is only between you, your spouse and God. I don’t think anyone can say “God wants YOU to have a big/small family” because nobody knows what God wants for some OTHER specific person or family.

      It is clear from reading the occasional big family blog that those who are in support of big families have been blessed (or are lucky? whichever you believe) with a certain character or a set of skills/attitudes that make the big family work for them. That is their ‘thing.’ NOT everyone can have a large family as their ‘thing’ — there are other skills and talents and focuses needed in the world, other professionals needed besides the mom of many kids. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, dentists, bus drivers, etc… We need the skills and talents of lots of people to make this world go ’round and not everyone is meant to or best for being a mom/dad of a large family.

      I admire the abilities of moms who manage large families well. For me the learning curve is too steep. The idealized large family sounds awesome 20 years into the future. But I wouldn’t want to put a handful or more kids through the learning curve with me. I’m a fit mother of two. Add more on and I think the “fitness” level would diminish rapidly.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Kim,
      Thanks for sharing about your experience. I have seen families like you describe, and it makes me sad. Part of what has shaped my views on this issue has been seeing people who live out the “quiver full” mentality and yet have moms who are used up & mentally unstable, with crummy marriages and children who are overlooked and go perpetually unsnuggled (for lack of a better, more descriptive word).

      Truthfully, though, I’ve seen just as little “food, warmth, time” given to some children in small families, and counseled with women from families of all sizes who have experienced neglect and “lack” at home. I think some families are just not warm, enjoyable places to grow up.

      For my part, I think that is more a function of parents who probably need to grow and be sanctified in ways that they are not yielded to, than it is of family size. Although it can seem more pronounced in a large family, because there is that sense of “why did they keep having kids, then?”… but the truth is that a lack of love and nurture will produce a wounded child in a family of any size.

      Like you, I appreciate Doug Wilson’s approach, because to me it shows balance. I am concerned with many in the patriarchy movement who took on an “appearance” of righteousness by taking on the convictions of others without the accompanying heart of submission that looks not just to fruitfulness but to TRUE fruit.

      Mere fertility does not = fruitful.

      And merely keeping your family small in number does not = being a good, loving parent and faithful steward.

      I think fruitfulness AND loving faithfulness need to go hand in hand, and when they don’t, it’s ugly and can produce a lifetime of hurt for those children.

  55. Audrey says:

    Hi Jess,
    I’m 26 and expecting my fourth child under 5. After each of my children has been born my husband and I have decided we are done. I have awful pregnancies and terrible labors and frankly I’m just tired, but each time our youngest turns 9 mo we start talking about it again and sure enough we add another. I think ultimately we don’t want to look back and wish we hadn’t limited God in this area and I have some health problems that would make it much worse to have kids after 30. We are a one small income family but we have made a series of good financial decisions that have allowed us to provide a great lifestyle for our children. I guess my question is at what point should my own health take precedence over these blessings? I have found with each child I am able to love even more deeply then before and I am happy to continue having children but worried what it will cost me physically (wow that’s amazingly selfish). We have prayed so much about this but have only been unsure of the answer and since we are a happily married couple who don’t believe in birth control, we keep having babies! I would just love your personal opinion on this as I believe it’s wise to seek counsel on all things.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Audrey,
      I can identify with what you’ve written, although we’ve never “decided we are done” but I have definitely needed and asked for a break after having a few of the children (also, after one of our 3 miscarriages).

      What I know to tell you, from my experience, is this:
      * Check your heart– is your attitude toward children that they are a blessing, even if that is (for a season) a blessing that needs to be delayed or stewarded?
      * Is there a pressing mental/medical/life issue that may require careful stewarding of YOU, your husband, or of another of your children, that takes priority over this issue for a season?
      * Can you walk in faith, whichever way you go? Romans 14, that great chapter about varied convictions, makes FAITH the issue that determines these gray areas’ rightness or wrongness… so can you walk forward in faith, whether that is in having another child, or in pausing/delaying?
      * Keep careful watch on your heart. Romans 12:3 has become a life verse for me, in that it encourages us to “soberly estimate” our faith. We have to be willing to look at ourselves honestly and ask– am I making this decision out of wisdom or selfishness? Looking to eternity, and the long-term, or to my feelings in this moment? Striving to be a faithful and fruitful disciple, or to appear righteous? WHAT ARE MY MOTIVATIONS?

      Lay the answers to these things out before the Lord, alongside your husband, and trust that your Good Shepherd will be faithful to guide you. He knows & leads His sheep, and is so good to train us and lead us in His ways.

      Blessings to you.
      Jess

      • Melanie says:

        I do so sincerely appreciate that you’ve made one decision for your family but are not trying to apply it as a moral good, and by extension a mandate, for every other Christian family. I currently have two (one 2.5, the other 7 months). My husband and I are both from reasonably small families (he has two brothers, I have three half-siblings and one step-sibling from both parents and their various hookups/remarriages) and we always saw ourselves with at least three children. But now that we’re in the midst of things, I find that we’ve got both physical issues (not the least of which being that my pelvis can only move my large babies out face-up, resulting in excruciating, debilitating labors and lengthy recoveries impacting multiple areas) as well as mental/emotional ones. I wanted a family and children so badly and was certain that, despite the deficiencies in my own upbringing, I’d be able to take to it easily and adapt well. But that didn’t happen. The bulk of the child care falls to me and I find that I’m simply not emotionally equipped to do this well, no matter how strong my desire and how firm my intent. Adding more children to this would be a disservice to them as well as to my current children, and could reasonably result in a mental breakdown for me. I am taking active steps to improve in my own thoughts, actions, and perspective, but since we started having children in our mid-30’s it’s not unreasonable for my husband and me to be pretty certain that we’re closing up shop here. I’m happy with the size of our family and am optimistic that we can be a successful and happy family at this size. But I do get frustrated when people seem so shocked that we’d be fine stopping at two. Our congregation is by no means Quiverfull aligned, although many families do have around four children. I don’t like feeling like I constantly have to defend the size of my family when the details of many of the factors involved are really nobody’s business. It especially stings when it’s made to be a matter of faith, as if everything would have a happy ending if I’d just make as many babies as God would “choose to bless” me with. So thank you for giving grace to those of us who have reasons just as good for having fewer children than your family, without judgment. My children are definitely a blessing. But there are a great many blessings in this life that cease to be such in excess, and everyone’s threshold is different.

  56. Tim says:

    I just really wish that people who wanted a huge family would look into adoption. The world has grown from 2 billion people to 7.5 billion in around 100 years. At current rates, we’re looking at hitting 9 billion in 30 years and we’re seriously hitting agricultural walls. The amount of damage humans have done to the environment trying to feed everyone is no joke. Science is helping this get a little better, but it’s still a terrible situation and where does it end? By having more children you are absolutely guaranteeing an exponential rate of growth. By having so many children, you’re basically guaranteeing that somewhere down the line (probably sooner than later), they will be suffering, be it to famine, disease or drought, because people couldn’t be more responsible.

    These people who say, “we trust in the lord that it will all be alright”, you know that the lord gave you a brain so you could try to reason stuff out. God’s never said that if you blindly just walk through life that you won’t suffer, sometimes greatly, on your time in earth. I mean, do you not get a job, wear clothes, try to stay healthy, or do you just sit around and say that it’ll all be ok?

    Lastly, unless religious beliefs are really pushing you to have kids, I can’t help but believe that having kids in and of itself is a selfless thing to do. Your children never asked to be born; you made the conscious decision to have them if you did any planning, and considering there are plenty of methods to stop from having children, that means you decided to have them. Yes, they are a lot of work but YOU chose to have them because YOU wanted them. I say this as a father of 2 children, and yes, I had two and then had procedures done so that would be it. I think it’s fine to have 3 or even 4 children in some cases, but honestly, I can’t help but feel some anger at what I perceive as the selfishness or ignorance of people who have so many children. You are literally taking advantage of those who are actually willing to try and keep things under control.

    • Tim says:

      Bleh, I meant to say that having kids ISN’T a selfless thing to do.

    • Jess Connell says:

      *sigh*

      Tim,
      I went ahead and approved your comment to be published, but it is so very full of attacks and oversimplifications that it’s hard to know where to begin, in drafting a response. I do hope you’ll come back tomorrow when the large families & sustainability article publishes, because I’m just going to let that post stand as my response to the ridiculous charges that large families are somehow more of a drain on the environment than the average joe. It just ain’t so; in fact, I believe it’s quite the opposite.

      “Your children never asked to be born.”

      Well, do you really think any of them would now, if they could go back, have chosen not to exist? LOL. I can assure you from their smiles, curiosity, and fun engagement with the world that I don’t think any of them would now, or will ever, wish for their own existence to have never been.

      And whenever I hear/see this comment, I can’t help but wonder about the speaker’s beliefs in God’s sovereignty in creating eternal souls. God Himself is the giver of life. There is no human that can create souls apart from His sovereign hand.

      I think part of the problem here is your very last 4 words “keep things under control.” The truth is, even in my own home, I can’t fully “keep things under control.” This is the nature of life among human beings. We all go our own way, think our own thoughts, do our own thing, and contribute to the world in ways that sometimes seemingly contradict one another, and sometimes support one another in our efforts. It is an illusion to think that we can “keep things under control,” so perhaps some of your “anger” is simply what we all feel when we strive to control things that are ultimately uncontrollable by human hands.

      I’d encourage you to find a better outlet for your anger, and to avoid dwelling on the choices of others as “selfish” and “ignorant.” If there is some way for you to specifically affect the change you desire to see, I’d encourage you to go for it. Write your congressman, run for office, start a blog, seek to influence the change you desire to see happen. But sitting around and calling people “selfish” and “ignorant” probably isn’t going to change any minds to see things your way.

      Jess

  57. Amy says:

    its interesting to me that people against large families always bring up what one more kid takes away from the world and neglects to balance it out with what that child is giving to the world.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Good point, Amy! There’s an interesting graphic somewhere that shows famous engineers, inventors, composers, statesmen, etc., from the last 2-300 years and where they fell in their family’s lineup. Many were #7 of 8, or #11 of 11.

  58. Janean says:

    One important aspect that hasn’t been covered but is very important to me is that having several siblings adds a richness to life that cannot be obtained in any other way. That is one of the main reasons I had several children–for my children’s sake. The world seems to have forgotten this benefit.

    • Emily says:

      I agree – after having my 2nd boy, seeing them together has brought me so much joy. I think my oldest has learned things he probably wouldn’t have otherwise, if not for little brother entering the picture. Of course they don’t’ always get along nicely, but I do see those glimpses of genuine love and affection and I’m so glad! It also has helped ME (as a mom and a person) to “get over” certain things when I had 1 child. The second one has helped me relax a bit, and not obsess over every little thing like I did with the oldest.

  59. Lindsa Eryn says:

    This was beautiful and good to read. I’m recently married and seriously worried about having children. I treasure my sleep and independence, and I even freaked out a bit when we just adopted our dog because we’d have a little creature depending on us to be home every day for years and years. Thank you for sharing your perspective on children, that they are precious and wonderful and good. It was really, really good for me to hear.

  60. KDC says:

    As someone who had five pregnancies and two children, suffered from postpartum depression and can’t have that 3rd that I always wanted, it’s not motherhood that tires us, it’s working to support the family, raising a family in the vacuum of extended family, and trying to keep an eye on my own self-hood as I raise my two kids.

    I myself am always shocked when people have many babies, because I know that my miscarriage risk is up to about 75%, or 4 pregnancies for one birth…..so when I see someone with 6 kids, I am like, okay that’s at least a dozen pregnancies and half that in miscarriages.

    But if there is one thing that I have learned, and I am not a religious person, is that only God plans children, and only enough to enrich our lives. We can try to get pregnant, try to keep a pregnancy, but ultimately, its not in our hands at all. At this point, God would have to work a miracle for me to have another and pave the road of my pregnancy with many small miracles, all guided by angels to hold me up along the way.

    *sign*

    I am still sad and grieve that little person that I so wanted in my life. I will always look wistfully and sadly at small babies and pregnant moms, and I wish that I had more babies in my life (we have few people in our circle with babies).

    I agree though that there is way too much focus on the baby products….I remember when people (including doctors) would express shock at our apparent poverty when it came to buying a crib. For years, my babies slept next to me and my husband, they had no need of a crib, there was no transition to a toddler bed. They nursed when they needed, no disturbance of the sleep cycle. We are so lucky to have had that.

    Sadly, we also were diminished by our lack of a diaper wipe warmer, but the richer for it.

    • Jess Connell says:

      KDC,
      I’m sorry for your losses. We’ve experienced 3 miscarriages. I hope you’ve been able to experience God’s grace and peace amidst your sorrow.

      We, also, never have had a diaper wipes warmer. I did think it would be a neat idea, but haven’t ever gotten to try it. 6 kids in, I guess we’ll be all right without one though. :)

      Jess

  61. Laura says:

    I didn’t take the time to read all of the comments, so perhaps someone already pointed this out.

    While I do appreciate so much of what you said here for my own life, one thing doesn’t hold true, at least for our family. My experience being a step mom to four children ages 6-15 is that they are not “expensive” when they are small. But they sure get more expensive as they get older!

    Yes, a young child can wear $3 thrift store tshirt or hand-me-downs and be perfectly happy running around outside. My kids have worn their share of thrift store clothing over the years!

    But life with kids gets much more expensive when they are teens. Getting the kids signed up for school was a several hundred dollar expenditure this fall. Then add in sports (each child is allowed one sport/activity), clothes (sorry, a half-worn tshirt from the thrift store doesn’t cut it for a 13-year old girl!), school supplies, extra gas running them all over town, extra grocery money for lunch food, school pictures…the list of things needed for kids goes on and on. And we say “no” to a ton of stuff that they either want to do or could do. Also they work hard around the house and with our animals for an allowance that they use for the special extras they desire.

    I guess what I’m saying is that your statement that kids really aren’t that expensive seemed a little simplistic to me. There is a lot more to raising kids today then making sure they have thrift store clothes. Perhaps if your children are all under 10 you haven’t experienced that yet, but trust me, they do get more expensive as they get older!

    Also, you may want to consider how this article comes across to families that really struggle financially–or to mothers who struggle with mental illness. To tell an under-employed family, “Hey, having kids isn’t that expensive! Keep having them!” or to tell a mother with depression: “I know you are completely exhausted and your sanity is fraying, but it’s worth it! Have another baby!” seems rather cruel. I’ve known large families over the years that were truly poverty stricken, yet kept having more and more children. I’ve known mothers who have committed child abuse or contemplated suicide because they were not mentally healthy enough to have a large family–yet they kept having more and more babies. I think there is a lot of guilt and pressure put on conservative Christian women to have a large family, and I’m sorry, but not every woman and not every family is cut out for that kind of a lifestyle. Just something for you to think about!

    • Jess Connell says:

      Good call, Laura. I had another friend point that out, and you’re right, I wasn’t thinking about the older years.

      Truth be told, I can’t do thrift store/bargain shoes as easily for my 10 & 12 year old boys as I could when they were 2 & 4. Some of their clothes I can do that way, but as far as shoes go, even on sale, they cost quite a lot each year. And… they eat FAR more now, sometimes out-eating me.

      At the same time, because they’re consuming more, it has given me motivation to do things like buying a freezer so we can buy half a cow, and get better quality meat for FAR cheaper, because we actually will eat it in a reasonable time to make the investment worth it.

      In regard to this, though: “life with kids gets much more expensive when they are teens. Getting the kids signed up for school was a several hundred dollar expenditure this fall. Then add in sports (each child is allowed one sport/activity), clothes (sorry, a half-worn tshirt from the thrift store doesn’t cut it for a 13-year old girl!), school supplies, extra gas running them all over town, extra grocery money for lunch food, school pictures…the list of things needed for kids goes on and on. And we say “no” to a ton of stuff that they either want to do or could do. ”

      Much of this is still dependent on what you do/don’t agree to as a parent.

      As homeschoolers, we don’t necessarily have the several-hundred-dollar expense of signing kids up for anything (although I do invest in homeschool curriculum for the older kids each year so that it can be used & passed down to younger siblings). We just keep using the same school supplies from the previous year, or (for my part, at least) they’re a relatively small investment if you wait for the bargain-bin-deals during the back-to-school promos. For us, also, there’s no gas money running them all over town, no lunch food (aside from what we are all eating at home anyhow, and no school pictures.

      Many of these expenses aren’t “must-haves” but they may be cultural expectations. Each family needs to decide on the front end exactly what they plan to spend money on with children. For us, many of these things aren’t things we wish to or need to invest our money in.

      Best wishes and thanks for calling me out. You’re right that older kids do require a different level of income. Though you and I don’t agree on all the particulars of what’s necessary, it’s true in general that older kids are more expensive to clothe and feed, and can’t just be folded in the way a nursing infant, or a 3-year-old wearing big brother’s hand-me-downs can do.

      Thanks for keeping me honest. :)
      Jess

    • Jess Connell says:

      Oh… and I definitely wanted to reply to this:

      “Also, you may want to consider how this article comes across to families that really struggle financially–or to mothers who struggle with mental illness. To tell an under-employed family, “Hey, having kids isn’t that expensive! Keep having them!” or to tell a mother with depression: “I know you are completely exhausted and your sanity is fraying, but it’s worth it! Have another baby!” seems rather cruel. I’ve known large families over the years that were truly poverty stricken, yet kept having more and more children. I’ve known mothers who have committed child abuse or contemplated suicide because they were not mentally healthy enough to have a large family–yet they kept having more and more babies. I think there is a lot of guilt and pressure put on conservative Christian women to have a large family, and I’m sorry, but not every woman and not every family is cut out for that kind of a lifestyle. Just something for you to think about!”

      I definitely DON’T want to communicate, “having a large family is a breeze.”

      Or, “everyone should do it because I can/do.”

      The whole point of this article is that it’s *my* specific answer to a specific question asked specifically of me, not a prescription for every mother, every where, at every time, in every place, in every family circumstance.

      I, too, have great concerns about those with mental illness or depression struggles, who are pressured to subscribe to a quiver full mindset, and end up catatonic in a mental institution, or abusive/angry/bitter toward their children. That is absolutely why I have tried to, in the article and comments, flesh out an attitude of stewardship and approaching this issue with wisdom, rather than a one-size-fits-all “rule” of life.

      Let me make it clear: I do not think that every family must/should do things as we’ve done, and I do not think it is wise for a woman who is mentally on the edge to be forced by the pharisaical “convictions” of her community or by her husband to keep having kids without any precaution, wisdom, or care for her soul.

      I try to write a lot about self-care and soul-care and the importance of mom’s sanity. To adjust the mantra, “If mama ain’t sane, ain’t nobody sane.”

      So on that point, you and I are in complete agreement.

      As for the financial element, I am hesitant to weigh in there. What we call “poverty” in America is almost always vastly richer than 95%+ of what society has experienced for the whole of human existence, and so I am not going to encourage others to limit their family size, or accuse them of being reckless, based on a standard that is now far above what would have been the case in the biblical era, in the early church times, in medieval days,150 years ago, or even today in some parts of the world.

      For me, finances is much more sketchy than mental health.

      But thanks for your remarks there too. I appreciate thought-provoking dialogue.
      Jess

  62. Sarah Wilson says:

    I find the topic of family size so interesting. In christian culture there is often alot of pressure to have lots and lots of children, which is great and such a blessing if one can manage this and care for them well. But what is wrong with stopping at two? For many folks that is what they can manage well. I have come to the conclusion that it is different strokes for different folks. I have three young children and always knew that number three would be the cherry on the top for us. Unless I had alot more support, I don’t think I could have another one, and there are other reasons too. There are so many factors to consider when thinking about growing a family, such as age, fertility, what your pregnancies or births were like, finances, coping ability, personality (you have to be more relaxed to have lots of children), energy levels, family and social support. One thing that concerns me about the quiverfull theology is that I wonder whether women are pressured to have more than they can manage, even with God’s strength and enabling. At the end of the day, I guess it comes down to faith. Those who are open to having more must have the faith to believe for God to provide – not just in finances but in patience and stamina too. I wish you all the best with your next little one.

  63. Holly says:

    I have only one child and she is the only one I’ve had for 12 years. The attitude that “children are a gift from the Lord” and “blessed is the one whose quiver is full of them,” is one of trust that God is who He says He is and He will do what He said He will do. I have only one child because that is what the Lord has willed for our family. We have always been open to allowing God to do whatever He wants with our marriage, though it has not always been easy. There have along the way been many doubts especially because I have cystic fibrosis and have battled 2 brain tumors, but God has enabled me to be the mother He wants for the daughter He has given. He is both great and good.

  64. Catie says:

    I’m not sure what I liked better–the article, Jess, or the comments! But seriously. I loved this.

    I recently wrote a (much shorter and a little snarkier) post about homeschooling not being easy, but we do it anyway. Nothing that is worth anything is easy! :)

    I’m really looking forward to your response on the “sustainability” comment. I’m not sure if anyone mentioned it, but just the fact that there are so many abortions :( should be reason enough to have as many children as possible.

  65. Samantha says:

    This is a great post! I also love that it’s sparked some pretty great debate in the comments. I love hearing both sides of the situation. I personally believe you should always plan your family around what you can afford and are mentally and emotionally capable of handling. My husbands parents had six children. By the time the two youngest were in high school it was clear she was pretty much “done” and had checked out as their mom. She was ready to be a grandma and those kids really suffered as a result. Financially I don’t believe you should plan your family around the generosity of society. Don’t have that extra kid if it’s going to require you to live on food stamps and Medicaid. I do realize sometimes “accidents” happen and that’s when public assistance is great, or if you or your husband were to somehow lose a job or income and needed support, that is what those great programs exists to help with. But it drives me crazy when friends of mine get to be SAHM’s and live on every government subsidy and keep popping out babies. I’m perfectly capable of working to support my family along with my husband so we do. I’d love to stay home with my son but that isn’t financially possible. Nor is it possible for us to have more children right now for financial reasons. So on the comment that kids don’t require that much money, I have no idea what you mean. What if you were to have a child with special needs or medical needs. That’s something to consider. Even if you don’t pay for their college, don’t buy them fancy clothes/toys, kids are going to cost you a fair amount. Just my opinion :) you clearly have a system that works for you so I completely respect that.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Samantha,
      Aside from unexpected special/medical needs, which could hit anyone, I think you are in the most expensive phase of having kids. Day care, formula (or pumping/bottling gear), all the gear and clothes that only get used through one child, etc… that’s all far more expensive than what will be the case when we have our 6th son in February.

      I’ll pull out the same crib sheets, burp cloths, and onesies (although I’ve added a few, mostly from thrift stores). I’ll pull out the same pack and play, nursing cover-up, baby hats, and wipes containers that I’ve used with the last few babies. I’ll whip out the diaper bag and put it back into commission for the 6 months or so that it’s useful. I’ll unpack the baby toys & floor gym.

      As far as NEW things? We got a bouncy seat for $10 at a yard sale. I’ll buy some new pacifiers and diapers. That’s pretty much it. Oh and the occasional cute outfit, hat, or shoes, when the fancy strikes me. But that will be rare.

      And the cost of diapers? Well, my 4 year old only wears them at night time, and my 20 month old will be about to transition to being day-time potty trained, so that “cost” of daytime diapers will basically just pass down to the new baby.

      I’m telling you, adding this little guy, financially, isn’t that big of a stretch for us, not NEAR like having the first one. The first one is more expensive (but even that amount can vary wildly in regard to where you get your clothes, what kinds of diapers you use, whether or not you formula feed/use bottles, etc.), but after each successive child, the costs drop dramatically.

      Now, I also am entering the other end of things– with 12 & 10 year old boys who eat nearly like adults. And with 3-going-on-4 boys, and 1 girl, behind them, I know the teen years of food & clothes will be a different ballgame from what the younger years are like. I’m under no illusion that the teen years will cost “nothing”… but the younger years really aren’t very expensive whatsoever, once you have all the baby gear.

      • Anonymous says:

        Jess,

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree with many of your thoughts regarding costs.

        However, in my experience, health insurance costs are not inexpensive. It is a recurring cost for the life of the child. I could see how insurance costs may not be an issue for all people. For example, if your employment and/or your spouses employment covers the entire health insurance costs for the family. Employment that covers all health insurance costs is the exception and not the rule.

        The other option would entail not having health insurance for some of the family members and/or all of the family members. I have a sister who has decided this is the right choice for her family.

        Please know that I am not trying to sound judgmental and/or critical. I am genuinely interested in your thought process given your assertion that children do not cost that much.

        I commend you for your integrity and effort in standing for your convictions. I appreciate the sentiment of your words and the kindness you portray in dealing with others.

        • Jess Connell says:

          Anonymous,
          Good thoughts. It’s true. Health care isn’t inexpensive.

          And yes, in some ways, we have “more” health care to be concerned about. Instead of a once/year visit to the ER as might happen with 1 rambunctious boy, I visit the ER a couple times a year with my 5 rambunctious boys (all of whom have had stitches, while my daughter has had none, LOL).

          One way that I notice that we save on health care costs, however, is that by breastfeeding, homeschooling, & primarily eating home cooked meals at home, it seems that we are sick less often than those who regularly utilize day care, are exposed to other germs through constant contact in schools, and by eating less healthy foods.

          I don’t say this to judge others, truly.

          Just to offer the perspective that we (honestly) are rarely sick. We had chicken pox go through our crew one time while we lived abroad, and we occasionally (once/year?) have a stomach bug or cold go through each member of the family, but we are very very rarely sick, and I think a lot of that is just due to the fact that we’re plugging along at home, eating home cooked meals, etc.

          I think I took one of the kids to the doctor for a sickness maybe 18 months-2 years ago, and that’s the only one I can remember for several years’ straight. It just doesn’t happen much.

          We do have 2 sons with eczema, so I buy those prescriptions in bulk and keep them on hand for months/years (however long they’ll last, until we run out), and like I said, we have the semi-regular ER visits which probably couldn’t be avoided unless I strapped them all in bed all day every day, LOL. We do well visits, vaccinations, and dental visits on a semi-regular basis (I’ll cop to not being as consistent as I probably ought to be– for theirs OR mine in these areas), but aside from that, generally, in truth, we don’t spend that much on healthcare.

          Some of this may have nothing to do with being in a large family, although some of it might– perhaps our kids are more regularly, deeply exposed to more immunities simply by living in close contact with so many people in our family? And perhaps because I’m budget-conscious, the eating at home helps?

          Regardless, thanks for adding your thoughts.

  66. Vanessa Samuel says:

    Thanks for responding to all the comments with kindness and respect (and your individual responses show that you read every comment). Did you ever reach a stage where you said , Lord what did you make me do? (based on the overflowing comments here, I’m not sure if your other posts got the same response!) Actually I would love to hear your honest reply!

    I’m one of 2 siblings, and we have an excellent bond( I would have loved to have more siblings, though it wouldn’t have worked with our family dynamics). Now I’m a mom of 2 tiny toddlers. My husband recently told me, he’s pretty comfortable with just these 2. I had been praying for awhile for me to be content with whatever he decided. And I have to say that I am. NOW. Submitting to a Christ -like head is becoming easier and easier (especially knowing he is doing this with US as a family in mind, and being full of integrity and fulfilling his God given responsibilies) . Neither of us made/are making a permanent decision, we may change our minds once both go to school, and start transitioning from “consumers” to “helpers”.

    I think I started this as just a comment to think out loud! What I wanted to say Jess, is Thank you for showing me the perspective I needed to view families/other people’s decisions/being stewards of our bodies/children/resources.

    And If you ever reached/passed that stage where you kicked yourself for putting this blog up, I want to say Thank you for doing it anyways :)

    • Jess Connell says:

      Vanessa,
      No, LOL, I’ve not ever asked, “Lord, what did you make me do?” Although sometimes I do look at my husband with a twinkle in my eye and say, “are we nutso or what?” 😀 But if we are, we’re nutso together. :)

      I think one of the blessings for me has been that my husband Doug has been very gracious toward me. When I had a very physically difficult season after our 3rd miscarriage, or felt emotionally concerned at the prospect of a pregnancy after just having had a baby, he has been very kind to “live with his wife in an understanding way” (like 1 Peter 3:7 prescribes), honoring me as the weaker vessel, very aware that there are physical “costs” for me (in addition to the obvious ones, there were unexpected-to-me things like, for example, the fact that my eyeglass prescription gets worse with every baby & that I’ve lost a tooth to cavity/root canal with each baby). His willingness to see life in seasons, and take temporary measures to care for me, has been a treasure to me. He has been careful to view *ME* and my body as something for which he is also responsible for stewarding, nourishing, and caring for.

      So, for me, receiving that attitude from him has freed me to walk in faith and not in fear in this area. I don’t see a large family as something God or my husband has “done” to me, but rather, each child has been another step of faith and God’s goodness. We have both been able to receive children from God in faith, but also have times of careful stewarding and prayer as we’ve waited through trials, sickness, and physical & emotional weakness on my part, for future times of fruitfulness.

      This is an honest answer, straight from the horse’s mouth. 😀

      Here is a post I wrote a couple years ago, to answer a similar question, so you have more background, if you or others are interested:
      LARGE FAMILY THOUGHTS: A MOM OF FIVE AND PREGNANT FOR THE 9TH TIME

      • Vanessa Samuel says:

        LOL! Actually I wasn’t talking about the children or number of when I said that, I meant this particular topic and post! (and probably should have phased it better!)
        You could have easily gone through life knowing what your and your husband’s priorities are, and never having to defend yourself/explain yourself here to a bunch of strangers . Also not having to deal with/discuss the negative comments or the backlash!
        I wasn’t talking about your children! Congrats on number 6 though.

        So……….. did you ever beat yourself about putting this POST up?

        • Jess Connell says:

          Oops, haha! I thought you meant about children.

          No, once I decide to post about something, it’s usually ruminated long enough in my brain that I’m good with posting about it and not gonna be frustrated at the outcome. I’m thankful for 8+ years of blogging experience so the negative comments no longer take me by surprise or make my stomach do flip-flops. I know that with controversial topics comes controversy, but sometimes I decide to wade in anyway because it’s worth it.

          Other times, it just ruminates in my brain and only comes out in real life conversations… perhaps because it’s too nuanced to do justice to it in only online/written formats, or because I just don’t have the patience to deal with negativity on a particular subject.

          But this one, I’m OK with. And apparently it struck a chord. More than half the views on my blog (which I started in January of this year) have come just for this post alone. So I’m glad to have written something that seems to resonate with a lot of people and does something to further the dialogue on this topic.

          All too often, the articles and attitudes I’ve read have been all-or-nothing, so I’m glad to be able to contribute my thoughts to prayerfully help others think through a nuanced, God-centered perspective on the matter.

          SO, no, LOL, I haven’t beaten myself up about putting this post up. I’ve been thankful for and excited about the dialogue.
          Jess

  67. C says:

    When my 2nd child was born 2 yrs after my first child, the Mirena IUC (an IUD but with hormones slowly secreted) sounded good to me. My midwife recommended it and so did my sister. Two yrs later I suffered intense pain from ovarian cysts pressing on my organs. I had the Mirena removed and was given the Pill for 3 months to stop ovulation (which gave the cysts a chance to shrink). I was open to having another child or two, but didn’t get a monthly cycle. A year went by and my blood test results were that I was “post-menopausal.” At age 38!! I believe the Mirena caused it. Just a warning.

    With my two, we are extremely frugal and kind to the planet. I was one of two siblings and we both had to pay 100% for our college degrees (and yes, many say they’re ‘worthless’).

    So many arguments against large families don’t hold water – they can easily be ‘disproved’ by looking at the other side of the coin and/or seeing the success of the children and parents. I’ve considered adoption, but it hasn’t happened… yet(?)

    As far as being ‘selfish’ goes, I know many moms who ‘selfishly’ didn’t want to endure another pregnancy/delivery because the first one or two were so difficult. Well, after 9 months of suffering, you get about 50 years of companionship so to me, it’s worth it!

  68. Jo says:

    I’m wondering why my comment is still “awaiting moderation” after three days, when other comments have obviously been approved?

    • Jess Connell says:

      Hi Jo.
      There were a number of rude, snarky, and judgmental comments on both sides of the debate that I did not approve. Yours was among that group.

      I don’t write to start a huffpo/Matt Walsh style smackdown and brawl
      on my blog. I write to encourage women to follow Christ. Comments that tear down or are sarcastic and critical have not been approved. Again — that was true on both sides of this issue; there were a couple pro-large-family comments that were rude and cutting toward smaller families and I did not approve those either.

      Best wishes.
      Jess

  69. Kathy says:

    I think the most important thing to remember in this apparently very controversial topic is that you are not better or worse than someone else based on how many kids you have. Someone who has six kids doesn’t have more value than someone who has one and vice versa. Everyone’s family will look different no matter the number and every child and momma has value no matter the number of siblings.

  70. Vanessa Samuel says:

    Would you consider writing a post on how you “steward ” your time? Being a mom of 2 stretches me, and I still need to “ACTIVELY” and in advance plan ways to serve , so how did you do it? With 6 ?(I’m sorry I think I mentioned earlier congrats on number 6, I guess I meant 7!)

  71. Allie says:

    Jess,
    Thank you for answering all of the comments you have with such grace and truth. It’s refreshing to see someone not waver on what God’s precious Word says, to be so gracious, and to be very educated in your opinions to boot! You have blessed and taught this young *tired* mama :)

  72. Rebecca says:

    THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS!!! When scrolling through the comments, I was saddened but not surprised, to see much of the criticism that you have received. You were so brave to write this and the world is better for it. More people need to understand this point of view. It made me want to go get pregnant with our fifth! (Don’t tell my husband!) Really and truly, your perspective is inspired by God and is so life-giving to your children and to our world. Thank you!

  73. Sara says:

    We have four, going on five children. The comment I receive most from children is, “Wow! You’ve got your hands full!” And my reply to this comment is a smile, “And I wouldn’t have it any other way!” I also communicate that we all have our hands full in one way or another many people with “work” or careers. I choose to have my hands full of little hands and little hearts!

  74. Sara Povich says:

    I love this! Thank you for sharing:) we have eight kiddos. I had them in 12 years, more than once I had three in diapers. I breast fed through entire pregnancies! Three times last week, my husband had people ask him if we did that on purpose, had eight kids, lol! I used to get upset, but now I just feel sad for them. We love our big family:)

  75. Lauren says:

    Thank you for blessing us with the truth and sharing positive experiences of life with more than 1.2 children!
    In response to a method for spacing children (and conceiving children!) without using abortifacients, check out Natural Family Planning.
    http://iusenfp.com/
    http://www.ccli.org/
    http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/natural-family-planning/what-is-nfp/

  76. Stacy Portko says:

    Jess, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have been asked those questions over the past many, many years. More than I care to even count. I remember many times coming home from the store in tears, my husband would say whats wrong. I’d say I’m so tired of people asking me “are those all your children”, “how many do you have”, “don’t you know what to do to stop that”, “don’t you’s own a tv”, “how do you do it”, “what does your husband do for a living”. For sure I could go on and on. You see I’m the mother of 10, 6 boys and 4 girls, no twins, all single births, (and 2 miscarriages). And if I wouldn’t be older (54) I’m sure God would bless me with a few more. And should I become pregnant at 54, I would look at it as a blessing. I’ve learned to over look what others say, the stares we get. Because I know that we have been truly blessed by each of these children who have brought more joy than an “extra” money can bring, than any possession can bring. Someday “they” will wish they have had the blessings my husband and I have had in our lives. Thank you God for giving me the gift of a lifetime. We may not have a lot of money, but we sure are rich.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Shockingly, Stacy, we’ve gotten all those comments too. Back before we were a “large family,” I’d read the articles or hear stories, and think, “people don’t really say those things, do they?” YES THEY DO. I’ve heard them all. Many times. LOL.

      It’s funny, now, because it doesn’t bother me in the least (except for the most rude/vulgar of comments that occasionally take me off-guard). I remember back when I had “just” 3-4 kids, was when they stung the most. I felt so vulnerable, and the comments really hit me where I felt most out in the open.

      I think now, for one, I’m just too busy to notice people gawking at us, and also, I have realized that the comments are actually (almost always) coming from a place of (1) surprise, and (2) genuine curiosity. So, sometimes people say odd things when they’re shocked by something, and people sometimes ask questions in odd ways when they don’t know quite what they’re trying to say. I think I’m maybe learning to give people grace, but also able to take it less personally than it felt back when it was all so new and I felt so exposed and vulnerable as a new “mom of many.”

      Anyway. Rambling now. But yeah, the comments are definitely something to get used to, as a large-family mama!

      • Stacy says:

        I too have learned to take them with a grain of salt. But I do admit it took sometime. Now I’m proud to say “yes they are all ours, we did not adopt, we have no twins, we are not crazy, we do know what were doing, but we gave birth to each of them separately and we wouldn’t have it any other way”. We are blessed. God is good.

  77. Maggie says:

    Thank you!

    I loved your post and the positive, thoughtful responses to each of the comments. What an incredible woman you are!

  78. Cynthia Vanden Beukel says:

    This is a great blog post! I am 31, expecting #5. People say, you must be so busy!!! And yes it is tiring!! I think the reason people can’t see having more then 2 children is because, unlike you, they don’t give their children chores and teach them about helping around the house. Now a days everything is done for the kids, they are becoming too lazy, and it’s a child led parenting world…it’s quite sad :( I come from a family of 9, and we love it! All the best!!

  79. Shannon says:

    Love this post! I’m a mother of 5 and wish I would’ve been a mother of 12, but sadly my body wouldn’t let me go any farther! This is such an interesting phenom idea resonating in our culture when bigger is better (car, bank acct, retirement acct, house, etc) but it doesn’t pertain to family. I love the post and the diversity of comments. God is working on us all, huh? My fav question used to be, “What were you thinking?” Like, really, you want to know what I was thinking in that moment??? That’s an awfully personal question don’t ya think. God controls conception, no matter what we believe. My sister got pregnant with all 3 of her children on birth control. What happens in that situation with the “footprints”? Yikes. Thank God, He is merciful and faithful!

  80. Linda Ippel says:

    As a mother of 8, and now grandmother of almost 9, i would not choose any other path. God has been abundant over and over again. I am reaping the joyful blessings of grandparenting and would not trade them for any dream house, vacation, or wardrobe available.

  81. Alex says:

    Thank you for your thoughts! I have been struggling through this subject. My heart has been telling me what you’re saying (just not as clearly).

  82. Kristy says:

    We have 5 and as exhausting as it is I wouldn’t trade it for anything! However, I personally know people who have too many. Yes. Too many. Why do I say? Because their adopted children say they feel like they are back in an orphanage. They are not supervised. Their mom lives and breaths on the computer instead of building relationships with her kid yet she is ALWAYS looking for more. I am convince it makes her feel like a savior to go and rescue kids but once she gets them home she cares nothing about them. They are neglect and verbally abused. She yells at them, calls them names such as stupid, DA, and retarded. She does all of this mostly because she is tired….because her kids exhaust her. I don’t think she set out this way but once she went past her limit this is what she turned into. So I agree kids are exhausting but I most certainly agree that every person has a limit. Every person has a magic number and once they go past it….nothing good can happen. I also know people who surpassed that number and struggled financially…lost their home to foreclosure and had to go back to work at retirement age. They live off the government and yet they continue to ADOPT more kids. I applaud you for supporting big families but lets face it- many love the idea of it but do not have what it takes! So my magic number is 5. As much as love kids and would love to have more and adopt more…5 is all I can do physically, mentally, financially. I do dream of my oldest going off to college and bringing one more home though;)

    • Adina says:

      Like anything else, aiming for a higher and higher number of kids is probably not the point of the theology of those who have lots of kids and are good stewards of their children. And I think that’s where the difference lies. I have 2 and we have taken the necessary steps to ensure it is only 2. I think if I had started having children when I was younger (not that I’m “old”) then perhaps I would have wanted to keep going. But 2 is my max. When I hear the big family folks talk about God and how he will provide the sanity, money, etc…I think ‘wow what faith!’ and yet at the same time, I know my limits NOW. There’s no guarantee that God would have given me a huge bounty of patience in time for baby #3 — considering my level of patience right NOW. I barely have enough strength, energy, and patience NOW. Is this my lack of faith or wisdom? Both my husband and I prayed before we took permanent steps to stop at 2. Neither of us felt one iota of discomfort with that decision. Now? Reading these blogs makes me wonder if perhaps we COULD have handled more because of how wonderfully so many of you do with your many children. When I’m 60 I would love to have 4-6 adult kids. But then I’m back in my house, with my budget, with my current skill set and limits and challenges, and 90% of the time I can’t imagine managing more than 2. In my fantasy, 4-6 kids sounds divine, but in reality, it does not. I think it is tremendous that some moms CAN handle a large family. More power and God’s blessings to you. I can not and I feel like it would be incredibly selfish (of me, not you) to add more when my limits are what they are. What if God didn’t magically expand my current limits right away–what if it took years? I wouldn’t want to put my current 2 kids through the stress of having a mom that is extra frazzled in the meantime because she thought it would be nice to have a big family 30 years from now. But that is MY story and why I think there is no way to justify a blanket recommendation for EVERYONE to have as many kids as their bodies can birth. And I am not saying that Jess has said that, but I think it is wise to remember that it is between the mom-dad duo and God. And nobody else really should be making a blanket recommendation on whether people should or should not have any children let alone many children.

      As for those who say it is selfish to have more than 1 or 2, it is no more selfish than having 1 or 2. There’s no right number (0 and beyond) that is inherently selfish or unselfish.

  83. Amanda says:

    I absolutely love your positive replies to less positive commentary. Thank you for your fresh perspective and outlook. I am ck spidering having my second child and continue to think, “I’m so tired already… How can I manage having more than one?!?” I absolutly love my little one more than words can express and can’t imagine my life without having had her. I feel that she deserves to have the companionship and support of a sibling. Thank you for your words of encouragement and explanation.

  84. JaLayne Grow says:

    I have 8 children under the age of 16. This article describes my feelings exactly. God’s grace has made all the difference. Being yoked with Him has made things so much lighter. There is so much amazing JOY in having and raising children. Thanks for sharing your feelings. Beautiful!

  85. Mrs. Crane says:

    I hang out with a rather fundamentalist crowd. But I myself don’t feel at all convicted by scripture against family planning. I am pregnant with my 3rd and as long as everything goes well we intend for this to be our last. But knowing the amount of families I do that have many children with no intention of stopping I have had a lot of chance to observe. I see different issues arising in all of the families. One family is impoverished, on welfare, and constantly railing on Facebook about how none of her friends will help her babysit or shuttle her and her family around because they don’t have a vehicle also they would like us to fund one for them. Another mother of many is consistently asking for free hand me downs and asking for this and that, usually major purchases. I try to empathize and I fully feel like as Christians we should be willing to share what we have with one another, but what baffles me is her attitude of helplessness. Like she and her huband can’t be expected to provide for all of these babies that just happened to them. They didn’t just happen to you! Another disturbing trend I have noticed is when serious issues are being ignored or overlooked in certain children (eating disorders, behavioral disorders, academic delays) simply because their parents have too many other children to worry about. Or because having this many children obviously takes up so much of a families time that they never get out in public and see other kids that age to realize there are some big concerns with their own. I could go on and on, but my biggest concern is that 7 out of 10 mothers of large broods are incredibly unhealthy and have been warned by doctors not to have anymore children for fear of their own life and the likelihood of major complications for any baby. I know a mother of 17 who had cancer during baby number 16. She became pregnant immediately after the birth, went onto have a still birth, became pregnant in 2 months and had baby 17. She has had two miscarriages since and is now pregnant again. She is 48. What about her 17 babies if she dies from all of this? And that is just the craziest. But I have known many women who feel like their salvation rests in their willingness to have babies until they just can’t anymore. Back to back pregnancies are unhealthy. They just are. You can’t argue that. I understand the whole argument about breast feeding being God’s natural family planning method, but it doesnt work for everyone, and the mother of 17 I mentioned became unable to produce milk many pregnancies ago.
    So I guess my point is, I don’t want to judge. I sincerely feel like if I saw a mega family pulling it off beautifully Duggar-style I would accept that this is what they wanted for their family, they are happy, it’s none of my business. But I never see that. Whether it is financial, emotional, or physical there is always a dire consequence being played out pretty obviously. I see exhausted, beat up moms dragging their herd to church, husbands no where to be found because deifying husbands generally goes hand in hand with this culture. And I see children either spiritless, socially inept shadows that look like they have never seen the sun. Or I see little maniacs who thoroughly taking advantage of the fact that mommy has bitten off more than she can chew.

  86. Sarah says:

    I loved what you had to say. It all come down to two things: the fact that too often society’s view on children shapes the number that people have and God’s grace. We should have the number of children that God calls us to have. For some that may be 6+ and and for others it may be just a few, but He will give us the grace for whatever he wants. Thank you for sharing.

  87. Thanks for the food for thought! Definitely an interesting discussion.

  88. Michelle says:

    Anything worth having takes hard work. It’s sad that the profession of motherhood is not valued in this country the way it once was. By investing in my children, I’m investing in the future of mankind.

    • Jess Connell says:

      “By investing in my children, I’m investing in the future of mankind.”

      This is very true. Each child, and our time spent pouring into them, is an investment. More than any financial or career investment, it takes everything we have and will pay dividends in ways that will echo out into future generations for as long as God allows. Great reminder for us all!

  89. melissa says:

    As a tired 35 year old mom of 5 (soon to be 6, and one baby in Heaven), I just need to tell you that I love every single word in this post. Your thoughts on sustainability are spot on as well. Thank you for taking the time to write such perfect responses to both questions.

  90. Casey says:

    I cannot begin to thank you enough for writing about this! Beautifully written, well thought out. And you handle each opposing view with such grace. You are terrific!!!

  91. Laura says:

    Thank you for this post! I love reading about other large families. I am also 34 with six kids and number 7 on the way. I also appreciate how well you reply to unfavorable comments. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog!

    • Jess Connell says:

      WOW! I often feel like I’m ‘the only one’ — but we have the same stats (only you’re a year younger- good on you! :) How lovely to connect with someone else so similar. I peeked at your blog & am I right in seeing that you also have 5 boys & 1 girl? Ours is our 3rd… and #7 will be a boy as well, so she’ll still be the lone girl. :)

      Anyway, nice to hear from you!

      • Laura says:

        Crazy!! Yes, I have five boys and one girl. She is our third, too. I’m nine weeks with number 7, so I don’t know yet. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say probably another boy! Funny thing, I’m the oldest of five girls, no brothers :-)

  92. Audrey says:

    I just want to thank you for this post. We have 3 kids, and one on the way, and our oldest just turned 3. We love the idea of having a large family, but we were actually trying to take a little break–our 3 kids are all 15/16 months apart. We just needed some time to recover and heal. But God must have bigger plans because now our baby and the new little one will be just over 12 months apart. I’ve been having a hard time wrapping my mind around it. Your post was just so encouraging. So uplifting. It reminded me of the joy and blessings of children. Even though this baby wasn’t ‘planned’, it is still a huge and amazing blessing. Now I just have to brace myself for the ‘wonderful’ comments I will get from others. Especially the random stranger at the grocery store who feels it is necessary to say, “Wow! You must be busy! You have your hands full! Did you plan this? Don’t you know how this happens?” Hahaha. Anyways, thanks for reminding me to be thankful and joyful for ALL of my precious children :)

    • Jess Connell says:

      Yes, brace yourself for the comments. I may have said it upthread (I can’t remember what I’ve said in 250+ comments on this one, LOL), but the worst/most hurtful comments we got were with #4. Something about four is so deliberate and in your face. Three, people can write off as an “oops” or “you were trying to get your boy/girl”, but four is just downright intentional, LOL.

      Hang in there. Sometimes people get ruder before they get nicer. Nowadays people don’t say ugly things to my face. They might say it behind my back but I don’t generally hear it, which is nice.

      And congrats! As my belly gets bigger, and Luke is kicking more fiercely, and as we giggle about the cute things our older kids are doing, I get more and more excited to meet him. Each child really is such an amazingly unique expression of God’s love, creativity, and wisdom.

      So congrats! Even if sooner than you thought, God’s plans are always for our good & for His glory.

      • Laura says:

        How true is this? I never received so many [negative] comments with regard to my fourth pregnancy! Three, no big deal, five and six and seven, you must already be crazy so why bother with a comment. But four. That’s a magical number!

  93. Amber says:

    I love this article. I am an only child, my mother suffered from secondary infertility and was unable to conceive after she had me. She, however, is the youngest of 12 children, and my father is the youngest of 6. Neither one of them have college degrees and both have worked hard and built an amazing life. I was always miserable and lonely growing up. I longed for a sibling and it hurt my mother that she could not provide that for me. I am now 27 and I have 2 children of my own. One son is 7 and one son is 7 months. My 7 month old has blankets and furniture that belonged to me, my husband, and my 7 year old. He has cloth diapers that have been used on multiple children, and we are constantly being given clothing from others who want rid of it. I also give away things when we no longer have a need for them.

    I don’t plan on having anymore children, and I don’t plan on not having anymore children. We will see what happens and if God feels like I am to be blessed with another, so be it. Being a mother is gloriously exhausting work. I love every minute of it and I am so thankful that I have the privilege to stay home with my sweet boys.

  94. errrr says:

    Apparently my first comment was too snarky or critical. Apologies. Round 2 because I’m hoping for a response.

    1. Regarding the idea that “everything of value is exhausting”:

    Is watching a beautiful sunset exhausting? Is doing work you enjoy exhausting? Maybe you want to qualify that statement some how?

    2. Regarding the idea that the world would have missed out on “the additional five-going-on-six wonderful people God has placed in our family. Their humor. Their creativity,” etc.:

    Then why stop at 6? Surely that point is just as true for your 8th or 9th or 15th child.

    3. Regarding equating the parable of the pearl in the field to “anything we truly value”:

    Realistically, any time you spend money you are assigning some value to something, so I’m left confused by your use of “value.” I’m assuming (correct me if I’m wrong) that you mean something has “value” in a more-important-than-anything-else sort of way. By that logic, shouldn’t you sell all you have for fertility treatments. Isn’t that the only logical choice if you truly value children (The parable is about selling EVERYTHING, not settling for things that aren’t as new or nice as your neighbor’s things)?

    As a side note, I’m not disagreeing with the number of children you had (I come from a family of 4 biological/3 adopted and my parents did a great job) — I have trouble with the reasoning (and the implications of that reasoning).

    • Jess Connell says:

      I am SO GLAD You came back. I told Doug I wished you hadn’t been so rude in a few of your sarcastic characterizations because I do think you raise some good points, and I wanted to have a chance to respond, but I don’t edit people’s comments to make them nicer so I can respond. I don’t want to fiddle with other people’s words. So anyway, I’m super glad you returned.

      (1) You totally flipped my comment on its head and made me think. You’re right there are definitely things that are valuable that aren’t exhausting. No, watching a sunset isn’t exhausting. Nor is eating a slice of cheesecake or listening to Luke on my audioBible.

      But even playing too hard can be, right? …like a day out water skiing or swimming in the pool. Those things can be invigorating but also can be exhausting. To answer your question, I do think that doing work you enjoy is still exhausting (gardening= exhausting, but I love it & feel accomplishment at the end; counseling couples- my husband and I love it, but at the end of a long session, my brain is exhausted). Work wears out, even when it’s wonderful work. Thus the phrase, “good and tired.”

      That said, many many many things (not “everything/anything”– so thanks for keeping me honest) that are valuable are indeed exhausting. So my comment was unintentionally hyperbolic, but still on the whole (like a truism) is more often true than not. I think. Agree? or no?

      (2) Yes. That’s one reason why we’re having #7. And can’t tell anyone whether or not there will be more (8, 9, 15, although I’ll tell you that that last number does kind of make me go EEEEEEEK). God does indeed keep compelling us to look at the fruit of our choices and consider these things in light of childbearing. Just like apple trees, or rental properties, or anything else that is valuable, a long-term investment, AND requires ongoing upkeep & investment in order to be fruitful, I believe we all have to prayerfully evaluate these things and ask God for wisdom to help us discern rightly our heart motives, our physical and mental limitations, etc.

      (3) I think the raising of the topic of fertility treatments raises more ethical issues than mere money or the outcome of more children. Not all believers see these things (fertility treatments, in vitro, etc.) the same way, and I haven’t read or done enough specific research to weigh in too thoughtfully on this subject, except to say that you are looking at this subject from an angle that is actually more similar, than different, from how I look at it. I am not a “quiver full” person who believes that every person is required to maximize the number of offspring they are possibly capable of producing, or that the best thing for everyone is to obtain the largest family they can.

      I do, however, unashamedly say that children are a “blessing”– a “gift”– “a heritage from the Lord,” and that for dh & I the attitude of submitting ourselves to HIM and asking Him for wisdom about what we can/should do, and what we can steward well, has been a heart posture that we desire to have. So it’s not about maximizing the number, but about asking Him for wisdom and fruitfulness and discernment in our decisions.

      Thanks again for keeping me honest & analyzing my logic. I hadn’t even thought of it from that angle, and am glad someone called me on it. :) Your comment truly made me smile, until the snark came out. But I’m glad you came back and offered thoughts in a more direct and friendly way.

      Best,
      Jess

      • errrr says:

        First, I’m impressed with the quality, frequency, and volume of your responses. Really impressed.

        Second, thanks for not approving the first comment (and I’m glad your responded to the other guy about why his comment was awaiting moderation). It’s way too easy for me to be a jerk…

        (1) Regarding ‘most valuable things being exhausting:

        It probably varies person to person: I’ve had points where work, graduate school, relationships, etc have all been exhausting, but I wouldn’t call any of those experiences exhausting. (although there have been extended periods with some relationships!)

        I haven’t thought about it much, but your comment makes me think there a healthy exhaustion and an unhealthy one. After running 10 miles or finishing a 12 hour day of work, I can be really tired and really satisfied — that’s a healthy exhaustion. If I spend 2 hours in a cramped, hot space putting a sink together, and at the end I find the first piece that should have gone on on the floor (2 weeks later I can laugh about it…), that’s a totally different kind of exhaustion. Maybe that’s an important distinction? Maybe it’s not?

        (2) Right on.

        (3) “… it’s not about maximizing the number, but about asking Him for wisdom and fruitfulness and discernment in our decisions” makes more sense to me than a “have as many children as possible at any cost” attitude. (Which I don’t think was your point, but that’s what it sounded like).

        Thanks again for the response. Feel free to respond selectively or not at all — I know you’re busy :p

        Cheers,
        Daniel

    • Stacy says:

      shoot I’m exhausted everyday, I was exhausted everyday before I had kids, so atleast having the kids makes that exhaustion more enjoyable. seriously who doesn’t come home from work or school everyday, even those that are retired and say, “I’m exhausted” ? if you didn’t have children to take care of and look after you’d find something else to do, ex. laundry, yard work, building something, cooking something, remodeling … seriously, you think it’s kids that make you exhausted, try again. were all exhausted at the end of the day, so why not have a few children to lighten the load, they make life fun, they make it enjoyable, they make you smile, they bring laughter to your day, they make my heart skip a beat … they are they joy in my life and I wouldn’t change it any other way …. (p.s. I am a mother of 10, 3 happily married and 7 still at home), and each time one of them leave I cry. I’d give it all to have them all back in diapers again …..

      • ABP says:

        must not be working hard enough, but I don’t remember feeling this same kind of exhaustion before kids. Nobody whines at work and quibbles constantly and interrupts my every task with the frequency of little kids. At work I did what I got a degree to do. At home I feel far more untrained. For me, parenting is the most mentally exhausting experience I’ve had to do day in and day out.

        • Jess Connell says:

          ABP, you are saying something I’ve heard from other moms. I think honestly, ironically, a large part of the mental exhaustion you’re expressing is due to feminism.

          Because of feminism, we have had less training, and less mental preparation for motherhood and daily care of the home than any other generation before us. The vast majority of us did exactly what you have outlined here– got our degrees, and were prepared to use them in a quite sterile and professional environment.

          What we WEREN’T encouraged to do was to consider how basic human biology might affect the sterility and “you can do anything”-ism we’d been raised to believe in. What we WEREN’T encouraged to do was spend time with moms of little ones, and most of us grew up in 2-child homes, so our reality was far removed from any awareness of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the real, daily demands of raising young children.

          I think a great many of us came into motherhood unprepared for the whining, quibbling, interruptions, and NEEDS of children. When truthfully, that is one of the ONLY things that, across the board, most of us as women would encounter.

          You might work in business, my friend might be a nurse, and I might’ve been in a political office, but almost all of us eventually become mothers of young children, and yet that common thing among us is the one thing none of us were well-prepared for. I find that appalling, and a great failure of the 30-40 year rise of feminism. It has left us most befuddled by the thing that happens to most of us, and most “well-prepared” (complete with degree and training and internships and such) for things that many of us (either due to motherhood or due to the crummy economy) don’t end up spending our lives doing.

          Ugh. I’ll stop my rant there. But it’s a true observation that points LESS to the reality of parenting (which people have done for thousands of years, with far more children, with far less gear, far less education, and far less financial resources than we possess), and to me, points MORE to the reality of what feminism has wreaked in our society.

          Jess

          • Emily says:

            This is an absolutely helpful thought that has NEVER occurred to me. Everything I’m doing as a mom to 3 kids 2 and under is because I had to LEARN to do it after becoming pregnant. I realized I was extremely unprepared and had spent little to no time understanding how to do basic things related to mothering and homemaking (even though I was raised among Christians). I know how to write, speak, teach, and interact in the ‘marketplace’, but running a home can feel confusing and overwhelming. This is such an encouragement to me to train the younger generation to do these things, because while the world is equipping women to go ‘be whoever they want to be’, few are handing down basic skills needed to nurture and love a family in practical ways that show God’s love. I haven’t read all the comments on here, but I did share this blog post on my Facebook wall because it was so clear and helpful to me. My husband and I want to give our family size to the Lord until he directs us otherwise, and we’ve come up against a lot of difficult questions. For us it is mostly because when we evaluated birth control methods, there were none we could make peace with. We just wanted to live as a married couple and stop worrying about it (especially since so far we have no financial or health reasons to limit family size). I am going to follow your blog. Thank you for this biblical (yet open to different callings) approach to family size!

          • ABP says:

            That is a very interesting though, Jess. I think it would be great to teach women about parenting. Where I think it gets tricky is where and how and what? Right? I mean it’s one of those things that in some ways you can’t be fully prepared for it until you are in the middle of it. I remember reading everything I could get my hands on about raising a puppy and then the REAL puppy came and although the information was helpful…I still needed a lot of help and ideas once the puppy was here and doing all those annoying puppy things that I thought were easy to control.

            It’s turning theory into practice that is tough. It’s learning how to be self-less. How would one even train a person to respond to the things kids throw at you without a serious mommy-to-be boot camp? But after that, I think a lot of people would rethink having kids because the worst parts would seem far worse when the real kids that you love aren’t there to soften things. Do you know what I mean?

            I think our western desire to be individual and do things our way tends to be an obstacle. There are many ways to parent and feed and toilet train, etc. I can’t fathom how one could learn it in advance and who would teach parenting in a well-rounded and unbiased way so that you could take from that what worked for you? It’s not as easy for us to let ‘the village’ do the raising of our kids or to help us raise kids. Yet a few generations ago when you suggest women learned this stuff, the village did participate in the raising. I would love the help, and yet….and YET the village has such different ideas on some matters that I am not sure I could handle it.

            It’s such an interesting concept but so hard for me to see how, in reality, the teaching would be done. Surely some preparation would benefit women, though.

          • Jess Connell says:

            Well, :) my kiddos are learning these things, simply by being around their younger siblings and watching how we do things. The older two boys (12 & 10), for example, have watched me do the things you talk about– potty train, parent, feed, discipline– and we talk through those things as they happen. They see undisciplined children in the grocery store and afterwards on the ride home, we might talk about how the mom responded, and did it work? or no? Etc. As we go through life, they are learning and thinking through why we do what we do, and what they might do when they are dads.

            You mentioned learning selflessness. In our large family (since that’s the topic of this post, it’s particularly relevant), our kiddos have daily… sometimes hourly… opportunities to learn selflessness, teamwork, caring for others, and loving on little ones. And, like you pointed out would be a deficiency if it was a generic “mommy boot camp,” this is in a setting where they ADORE their baby brother and LOVE watching him toddle around, learn new words, learn how to control his fussing, etc.

            I think parenting IS something you can be MORE prepared for (than most people in our current generation currently are)– just like having a puppy, if you’d lived in a home where a puppy had been trained and raised, you wouldn’t know *EVERYTHING* you’d need to know for your particular puppy, but you’d have a good idea of the basics, and of where to start when x, y, or z, happened. That lifestyle of learning about family life with little kids is what my older kids are getting, on a daily basis, that you and I didn’t get.

            AND YEAH… I TOTALLY agree with you about not wanting the “village” to do the raising of my kids. No, thank you. LOL. I see in the headlines on a daily basis what the village is turning out, and I’m not interested in that result.

          • ABP says:

            I don’t mean village as in complete strangers. But 30-40 years ago (probably more likely 50+ years ago) extended families didn’t live so very far apart. Women had help in raising children–sisters, aunts, and/or grandmothers were involved. It wasn’t JUST mom all on her own during the workday–or it was a lot less of just Mom. But even that…even the village of extended family makes me a little uncomfortable because we have a greater variety of beliefs about how things should be done. It’s hard to ‘share’ in the raising of children because, I think, we are more individualistic now than a generation or two before. I don’t think that is bad, necessarily, but it has the downside of not just going along with doing things the same way your mom or grandmother did things. And not sharing the child raising and thus having to do it all yourself.. Of course Dads are more involved, but whoever is home the majority of the day gets a bigger portion.

          • Jess Connell says:

            Makes sense. Yes, after living overseas and seeing (in multiple cultures– China, Thailand, and Turkey) the close knit relationships among extended family members, I personally think we lost a lot that is valuable, family wise, in American pioneer days when we cut those ties off and struck off on our own. That independence streak is still playing out in the American family today, where young mothers go unsupported and grandmothers and great-grandmothers sometimes *see* the issues and difficulties in the lives of their daughters and grandchildren, but feel ill-equipped to say or do anything.

            Not to mention how few young moms even HAVE family members around now, in our highly mobile society. Most young couples have moved away from their families of origin and have little to no real, long-lasting, dependable help when a baby comes along.

            So now, the pediatrician and lactation consultant have become the lifeline to young moms that used to be in the form of loving female family members, all or most of whom had gone through those stages multiple times, and were able to help comfort, counsel, and support, the new mom in her time of transition.

            Thanks so much for adding your thoughts; it’s definitely a worthwhile contribution to the discussion.

  95. marlea says:

    i’ve never read your blog before but just ran across this post in my facebook newsfeed. it was a huge encouragement to me as i am currently in beginning labor pains with my third precious baby:) thank you for the way that you glorify God in your writing, respond with grace to others, and express biblical values so well. keep on!

  96. Laura says:

    I’m always sensitive to the fact that articles like this make smaller families (or non-homeschoolers, working moms, etc.) feel less godly or that they can’t serve God as well as others. Yes, God calls some to have more children and He blesses their obedience. God also calls some to smaller families and He blesses their obedience. There are many things that a weary mother of many or the financially strapped parents of a clan just cannot do. The Kingdom needs all of us working together, accepting that we all have our place in the Story. One of the assertions this article makes is that those who choose to have 1 or 2 children don’t value children. I know and love many smaller families who have made the purposeful decision to keep their families small so that they can serve God in other ways, many of which value children. One, for example makes certain that one or all of the family members can go on a missions trip yearly. Another financially blesses adopting families. Another is always the first to stop by at just the right time, bearing a pick-me-up for someone who needs it. These are things that many larger families cannot do. None is better than the other. We all just need to be obedient to God’s call for ourselves and for our families.

    About weariness, for some, that might be a clue that it is time to stop having children and to find other areas to serve, even as a family. Moms need to do a little self-check. If all of your FB posts, comments to friends, or thoughts are about how weary you are, then maybe you do need a break. Maybe your weariness is making it difficult for you to parent the children you do have. Maybe it’s God’s way of saying it’s time to put the focus on something specific. As I often say, “If no one wants to be around my children, then they can’t be salt and light in this world and I am not doing my job for the Kingdom.” We need strength for each day, to parent our children through whatever it is they are going through.

  97. Michelle says:

    While I appreciate & agree with many points in this article, I am the mother of four children (ages 20, 18, almost 16, and 13) and kids are, in fact, expensive! We’ve never lavished expensive things on our kids and my kids pay for a lot of their things on their own. They work hard to earn money for things they want because we live on a tight budget. I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for any of them. I love my family dearly but it does cost a lot of money to feed and clothe a family of six even if you shop at thrift stores (And college! Wow!$$$). You just can’t tell people that having a family of eight takes the same toll on a budget as a family of four would or say that having kids is just not that expensive.

  98. Kelli says:

    I took the original comment from your article a different way. I wonder if that person was more concerned about the complaining? I have had 11 pregnancies, 4 of them miscarriages, I have 4 beautiful, living children, have buried 2 beautiful daughters due to a genetic disease, and have #11 on the way. After losing my 2 daughters, I bristle when I hear people complain about their children, I bristle when I hear them complain about how exhausted they are–what I wouldn’t give to have my daughters back! It would be worth every minute of exhaustion! It is just hard to hear others complain when they are truly so blessed.

  99. Krista says:

    One word that I have not heard mentioned…ADOPTION!

    It is really hard not to be frustrated with people that pick out the “quiverful verse” but glaze over the one about taking care of the “orphans and widows” I don’t want to come across rude or proud but man…if you want a large family, there are A LOT of hurting children out there in foster care and internationally that would love to have a family and be loved.

    Yeah..it’s tough. It seems as though we as Christians want our kids to stand out as obedient, godly, well educated children who knows how to spout off bible verses at any given moment. So, when you open the door to children with real issues it’s hard and it gets messy. THIS saddens me and seems very selfish.

    Consider adoption! Think about who Jesus hung out with. This life isn’t about us and our perfect looking obedient small or large families…

    • Jess Connell says:

      I understand your frustration, but I’d urge you not to make it an either/or.

      By the way, adoption was discussed, and one commenter even referenced that the large families they’re familiar with are already used to “folding in” more children and are thus more open to foster care & adoption than many small families they know.

      Let’s not (even unintentionally) make this an “us” vs. “them” mentality. All believers should have a welcoming attitude toward children, AND all believers should have a heart to “visit widows and orphans in their affliction and keep oneself unstained from the world,” like James says.

      • Jessica says:

        I agree with you, Jess.

        Adoption is not an easy process, its not a cheap process, and it’s simply not for everyone. BLESS those who adopt for they are so important. But there are also many ( I know personally) that try to desperately to adopt and its a very long, daunting process, that does not always end in the families favor. Jess, so many ignorant people are on this blog, so bless you for speaking out and supporting yourself and all of us with big families. And for those that keep using the Bible and Jesus (since that what people do when they hear someone is a Christian) Gods greatest gift aside from Life/His Son, is children. Look at all the stories in the BIble where women were blessed with children and they are groundbreaking stories. God intends for us to have children. How many children we decide to have is up to us. Don’t punish or limit a woman on what she can or should have if her body and lifestyle allows for it!

  100. Jennifer S. says:

    This was so well said with clarity and grace. We have eight children. Yes, I’m tired – a lot, but I wouldn’t change a thing. My children bring me joy (and some frustrations) every day. My husband and I are delighting in watching them each develop into the unique individual God designed them to be.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Thanks for adding your thoughts Jennifer.

      It’s good to be honest — “My children bring me joy (and some frustrations) every day.”– and then frame it all with God’s goodness & designs. He is so creative and wonderful, and what a privilege it is to see that playing out in our homes!

  101. We have 5 kids, all were unplanned. Yeah kids cost money, and in crude terms there’s stuff we can’t have or do because of that. But my goodness we are well-to-do where life is concerned. The more the merrier.

  102. LS says:

    I would love to have another child, but if I do it will be a surprise. God can overcome any obstacle we set up if he chooses, but we will not try for more. I have 2 children out of 7 pregnancies. One has special needs, and genetic testing revealed that any future children would have a 50% chance of the same condition. When we had only one child the cost and travel for therapy was difficult. It wouldn’t be possible for us to repeat that now, and I am crying as I write this thinking about what it would be like not to provide that which my child needs.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Laura,
      I’m sorry this brought up painful emotions for you. I would encourage you– God knows your situation. Walk in faith and walk in peace. Follow the voice of your Good Shepherd and do not feel like you owe me, or anyone else, an explanation for decisions that are between you, your husband, and your Lord.

      When God gives peace, we need not labor under the expectations/perceived judgments/rules of others. Press on and I hope this will ultimately not be a source of wounding but a confirmation of freedom and contentment for you.

  103. Gretchen says:

    I chose to have only 1 child due to my own health and mental health issues. I knew that I didn’t want to try to get through another pregnancy nor the work it takes to take care of another child.

    That being said, I do feel that parents do need to be able to provide for each child financially, emotionally, physically, etc and that to keep having children isn’t a wise choice, if they cannot properly provide for each child.

    Each couple needs to examine their reasons for continuing to have children to be sure the reasons are healthy and that they can adequately provide for more children. Older siblings taking care of younger siblings usually isn’t very much fun for the older siblings.

  104. Lynsey says:

    As long as you can take care of your kids, that’s all that matters. Quality not Quantity.

  105. Janie Upchurch says:

    With each of my three children, I was sooooo sick during my pregnancy. However, I never imposed on others to take care of those already born while I was sick, but rather made it through each day on sheer determination. Sometimes, I put them in the church daycare when I was desperate. My mother-in-law lived 15 minutes away and yet she never offered to give me a break. However, she did offer criticism when I got pregnant for the third time and as if that were not enough, when my third little girl was born, she said that she knew I wanted a boy. I told her that I never chose to have a preference since God had already chosen for me before I even knew I was pregnant. How much better it would be to encourage any young mother, but most especially those who go through great difficulty to bring a precious child into the world.

  106. Morgan says:

    You are right, KIDS are not as expensive as many make them out to be. Especially with the mentioned use of hand-me-downs. However, TEENAGERS (which kids grow up to be) are expensive. They will care if they cannot afford the name brand clothes their friends wear. They will be expensive when they need a cell phone to keep track of, a car to get to and from school/ part time job, and eventually college. And yes, many parents may raise their children to be humble and not care about material items or name brands, but I can guarantee they will feel the sting and/or humiliation in middle school or high school if they are wearing hand me down clothes.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Morgan,
      You and I are just coming from two completely different, probably irreconcilable, vantage points.

      I in no way think it’s reasonable for my children to suddenly turn 13 and begin having arrogance and snobbery about clothing in a way that even my husband and I (the people working to support the lifestyle we have) do not. He & I cheerfully, gladly, save money and limit purchases so that we can spend our money in other ways. If our children do suddenly begin feeling a “sting” or “humiliation” over such things as brand names, it will be a good thing for them to wake up to reality.

      We’ve lived all around the world, in places most Americans can’t even pronounce, and I have a low tolerance for material snobbery of the variety you are calling normal. Rather, they (as we do) need to put their own desires in light of what “normal” is all around the world, and stop the growth of any expectations that the whole world should circle around to meet their passing whims.

      If our children opt for a part time job, they can then choose whether or not to have a cell phone and pay for it, accordingly. Or perhaps they’ll opt to spend their money on those name brand clothes that will be, apparently, impossible for them to resist. Given the attitudes of my oldest boys (who are nearing teenagedom), however, I’d bet that they’ll opt to keep digging through thrift store racks for the brands and styles they like, and opt to keep that money in their pockets.

      Somehow teenagers have managed to make it to adulthood for millennia without cell phones, brand name clothing, and guaranteed-college. Given what you’ve written here, I don’t think our definitions of what even teenagers “need” is ever going to match up, but thanks for stopping by and adding your thoughts.

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