Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why So Many Children?: Part 1

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This is another one of those questions that I have found offensive. Or not. Depending on the tone and the wording and excuse me, have I ever even met you before?

Let's review Proper Nosey Questioning Etiquette:

Nice: "I would love to know what led you and your husband to have such a large (for extra points, insert "lovely, beautiful, intelligent," etc.) family.

Not Nice: "PLEASE, tell me you are DONE!" "You aren't going to have any more, are you?" "WHEN are you going to stop having babies?!" (I have heard all these and more.)

There's nothing wrong with being curious, but can we all just agree that a person's reproductive habits are pretty personal? For that reason, I tend to bristle when a perfect stranger, and believe me it happens frequently, fairly shrieks, "These are ALL YOURS?! Are you going to have any more?! (incredulously) YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! I would slit my wrists!"

Yes, Really. I can't make this stuff up.

It is pretty easy to tell if the questioner is genuinely interested in learning more about our passion for children ~OR~ if he is using the question format to ridicule and insult.

Having said all that, I do remember meeting larger than average families when we didn't have any children of our own or any plans for more than a couple of children and being intrigued and curious about them, so I understand that folks may feel the same about us.

We knew one family with four children, which seemed large at the time, who we greatly admired. They weren't perfectly patient or overly organized, but we could see that they were aiming toward better. And they were so jolly. And loving.

Then, unexpected circumstances provided them with the opportunity to adopt a five year old girl who needed a family. They were unhesitating in their belief that they would be able to provide for this girl's emotional and physical needs even though they already had four other children.

At this time, we had two children of our own and we both found that attitude very intriguing since we had some idea how demanding child rearing could be. We figured they must have something we didn't have. Maybe an extra helping of energy or a super serving of sweetness. I filed it away in the back of my mind. Little did I know God was using that idea as a seed that would sprout and grow soon enough.

Fast forward a couple of years and one more Baby Smockity, which at the time, we considered our last. We had moved to a new town and a new church where there were several large families.

Again, we could see that these families were loving and joyful even though they faced the same stresses the rest of us occasionally had. They dealt with cranky kids and schedule disruptions and illnesses just like we all did.

Light bulb moment! They weren't superhuman and thus decided to have lots of children. They were just regular folks who were relying on God to carry them through each day.

To be continued.
Read Why So Many Children? Part 2.


Anonymous said...

So true. We have also heard most of the comments you listed. Mostly, "Are you done now?"

We did not start out wanting 6 children, but now we can't imagine being anything but excited over #7...or 8...or 9... :)

Looking forward to Part 2!


Mrs W said...

I get rude comments too. My husband and I have been married for two years and I'm pregnant with our third child. Our first two are only 11 months apart, and this one will be 12 months apart from my youngest. To top it off we're a young couple (early 20's) so people tell us stuff like it is just the stupidity of youth and we'll get over it, hopefully before we have a house full of kids. Still others think that because we are so young that they need to instruct us.

And then there is the really rude "you do know what causes that, don't you?" These attitudes almost caused my husband and I to try and prevent our latest blessing. People don't understand why I am happy that I am going to have three babies two and under (and yes, they are hard work).

I wrote about this on my blog the other day because I was so discouraged about it. It would be great if you could come and drop me a comment when you have part 2 done so I can come read that also.

Amy said...

Oh boy! Thanks so much for this series! I admire large families, but am always afraid to ask questions for the fear of offending. Looking forward to part 2!

Erin said...

You know, it is all in our my family, our decision to have three children was was so many! When I said we would have had more if we could, they were stunned. Then you look at the Duggars, and I'll bet none of us would be considered having a large family. We love our kids and I just figure when the time is right, we'll be blessed with more, even if they're not from my womb.

Anonymous said...

With seven of my own, I've heard it all too.
I wonder if prosperity is to blame?
There is a rampant sense of entitlement in this country.
Having children requires sacrifice, obviously. But, does no one consider the rewards anymore?
I suppose if the rewards are not tangible (money), then the sacrifice isn't worth it.
Maybe it's more complicated. Fear, pride...regret?
I look forward to reading more of your thoughts about this. Thanks for posting.

karen b said...

do you think the reality shows like "jon and kate" are making people think more positively about large families?

Jessica said...

My husband is in the navy, and we are expecting #6 in April. When he very excitedly made the announcement at work, one young lady sailor replied with this: "If that happened to me I would shoot myself in the face!" Now how does a person respond to that? (In a Christlike way, I mean. Some not so nice thoughts went through my head, believe me!)

Smockity Frocks said...

Karen, I hope so! Before I even knew who Jon and Kate were (or the Duggars) people were telling us we were just like them/should watch the show/reminded them of us, etc.

I think, at least, it brings an awareness that large families are basically just like every one else in a lot of ways. We want the best for our kids. We occasionally feel overwhelmed. We take it one day at a time. You get the idea.

Smockity Frocks said...

Jessica, When someone says something like that, I just stare in silence until they start to squirm uncomfortably. I wonder if their mothers never taught them "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

looneymom said...

I know that when my husband and I decided to have our 3rd child, people were rude. We had to wonderful little boys. So, the first question was, "So, your trying for your girl!?" No, we just want 3 kids! One of my close friend snarled her nose, and said..."You know that you will NEVER get to do anything EVER again!?" We are not that close now, but I still love her. We had to stop at 3, because of health issues. But, I was thinking about 4. I can only imagine what people would have said then! Oh, and the Lord did bless us with a beautiful little girl! We would have happy with one more boy too!

Cardamoms Pod said...

We have 9 children ages 13-2, and we've heard a lot of comments, too. The hardest ones for me to hear would be when they were spoken IN FRONT OF the commenter's child/children - "I don't know how you do it - this one drives me crazy!" We always try to point to God. They ask, "How do you manage?" By God's grace, and one day at a time - sometimes one minute at a time.

I will say that we had more comments when we were still having babies year after year.

We also try to convey the joy we have in spite of the hard work. Regarding the comment, "You do know what causes that, right?" my husband (who is very jovial and up-front) would say, "Yep - and it's FUN!" Other people would have the audacity to say to me, when my hubby wasn't around, "Tell your husband to stay away from you!" I would reply with a big smile, "Hey, I'm not fighting him off!" That would get them to think!

The Westlake Family said...

That's awesome! We have heard all of this as well, and the last post was hilarious...I usually just get embarrassed and turn red, but I will use those in the future! If people are going to be bold enough to ask me such personal questions, I will give them a bold truthful answer! God is good.

J said...

Currently I have 6 children. I have learned
Child limiting is part of a political agenda
Here is the real site:

When we learn that all of our education has taken us from Elohim's command to be fruitful and multiply it makes us wonder about and begin to understand others frustration with people who follow Elohim's commands.
Truly we will even be hated simply for our choice to have babies.

Those people might accuse me of being a Earth hater or on welfare.

I do not hate this planet I know YHWH is over all and by not having children we (the people on Earth) will cause an economic Winter. Elohim will provide. I am not on welfare and openly refused it when my husband changed jobs years ago (we lived on our savings because Elohim provided and we prepared for that day as commanded in the Bible).
People are choosing to not have children. Why? Why did I have a normal family?
Ultimately, I am not selfish and do not think my time is my own to do with as I please. I know I am just a thread in a larger tapestry. What a sad uncolorful thread I would have been without all of my children. Peace.

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