Thoughts on having a big family

Maybe the most common reaction when people meet someone with lots of children is to think they are crazy. Another fairly common reaction among Christians (believe it or not) is to feel a little guilty.

Both fall short.

The person who has many children is as crazy as someone who wants more joy and blessing, because that is what children are. I am not totally sure why the person who feels guilty feels guilty, I am guessing there could be a number of possible causes, but before you act on that guilt and have more and more children I think there are a couple of things you should know.

In other words, if I were sitting down with someone who was thinking about the size of their family, here are a couple things this father of a bigger family might say:

1.) It is awesome.

The other day someone heard that my wife was having our ninth child and she said to Marda, “I am so sorry for you.”

We feel pretty much the opposite, actually.

I simply can’t describe for you how much joy there is in our family pretty much every day. It would work better if you came and stayed with us for a little bit otherwise I am going to sound a bit corny talking about all the hugs and laughs and all that.

I know awesome is a word that is overused, but I am telling you, it just is.

I grew up with siblings who were much older than me, like eight years was the closest, and when I see how tight my children are with each other and how much fun they have with one another, wow, I can get a little jealous.

The advantages are big.

Plus, I find having a big family such a help to me spiritually because look, if, when I wake up, I am not serious about dying to self, well, it is going to be a pretty long day.

2.) It is hard work.

Parenting one person is hard work, now times that by nine. Children need time, there’s just no getting around it. They need someone who plays with them and is silly with them and spends time talking about the Word of God with them individually. Each child is unique, special and deserves to be treated that way, especially by their own parents. But if you have a large family and your children aren’t going to become a number, you are going to have to be willing to put in an extra kind of effort.

Just leaving to go to work can take some time, think about giving hugs and kisses to ten different people.

I usually have two separate times of devotions with our children because their ages are so spread apart.

If you have a problem talking about the same thing over and over, then with nine children it is going to be a nightmare for you.

We have four different bedtimes in our home.

I think you get the idea and all that is on top of having a fairly massive amount of dishes and laundry and on and on we could go. Now, it is worth it. It is definitely worth working for more than an extra vacation or something like that, but it is work.

And it is the kind of work that takes some skill and in particular a little bit of organization, actually. I tend to be a fairly laid back guy so sometimes people don’t realize that I have a bit of structure to my life. Her name is Marda. I am able to be a little more laid back because that structure is there. If that organization weren’t there, a big family could potentially be chaos and not the good kind of chaos. Whenever Marda has gone into the hospital to have a baby and is gone for a few days, I am always amazed how much more serious I get, and I have to because it really does take a bit of focus to get done what needs to get done in a big family without things coming apart.

3.) If everything has to be perfect for you, then maybe you better change your attitude first.

It is good to be organized and you need it for a big family, believe me, but on the other hand, if you are the kind of person who is uptight about seeing a sock on the floor, you maybe better work on that before you have too many kids.

Take family pictures as an example. Try getting nine children under twelve to smile and look at the camera at the same exact time. If you are too uptight, it is going to drive you a little crazy.

4.) Remember, to do one good, you may at the same time, not be able to do another good.

There are some people who don’t want to have a large family because bottom line they are selfish. O.k., that’s a problem. Our attitude as believers needs to be all out for Christ and you know honestly, I think having and discipling children is a joy-filled, long lasting impact kind of way to do that. But there are others who are really focused on using their gifts and talents for the glory of God in a bit of a different way and as a result, they are thinking they should probably only have several children instead of like ten. That’s a whole lot more understandable. Because if you are going to have ten children, you may not have a lot of time for say, writing or say, you may not be invited to people’s houses for dinner quite as much. Even, like pre-marital counseling becomes a little tougher to do as a couple when you have more children because who is going to look after the babies when you are sitting down to talk?

5.) Money is not the issue you might think it is, unless it is a bigger issue than you think it is.

God’s ability to provide is unmatched.

Bottom line.

So when someone tells me they don’t want to have more children because it is too expensive, it is hard for me to compute. We don’t make a lot of money, but we are living in a house that is paid off, (o.k. we don’t own it but it’s paid off) and drive a car that is paid off and have enough to eat every day and all that. Not because I am so good with money, believe me, I have made some huge, embarrassing kinds of mistakes with our finances in the past which God in His grace has helped us escape.

God is good, He really is and He is able to provide for His family very well.

On the other hand, look, I need to be straight up, the money issue isn’t as big an issue to us because it is not as big an issue to us. I don’t know how to say it any other way. Vacations are going to be more expensive as a big family, groceries are going to be more expensive, hey, even going out to McDonalds can cost. But if you are looking at all that and saying, it’s too expensive, make sure you are not saying it is too expensive because your life is about having vacations and being comfortable because if you are a Christian, your life is most definitely not about all that even if you are pretending for a while that it is.

If as you stand before God you are limiting the size of your family, man, I hope it is not because you want to drive a nicer car or even to be able to pay for your children to go to ballet or something like that. Because that means your attitude towards money is turned upside down. Being a Christian costs. If you don’t have children and you make extra money, you should be thinking about how you can use that money sacrificially for God’s glory anyway so whether you use it for God’s glory by paying for your children’s groceries or use it for God’s glory by helping someone else pay for their groceries, either way you are all about strategically using what God’s given you financially to make God look great.

Not because you have to somehow earn God’s favor through what you do, but because you have it because of what Christ did.

And that principle is really important to believe and embrace across the board when it comes to all of this, because I mean, man if you are sitting there feeling guilty about your family size because you think having more children is going to get God to like you better, then you better repent and deal with that before you even think about having more kids.

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