“God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”-Gen 1:28 (NRSV).
Disclaimer: This is not to condemn those who choose not to have children or cannot have children. Parenthood is not for the faint of heart and those who undertake it are often bereft of sleep, logical thought, and the ability to carry an uninterrupted conversation. If a couple opts to refrain from the responsibility of child rearing, they should be applauded for weighing options and understanding this monumental task would not be best suited to them. Sometimes couples don’t want children and find themselves expecting; that is an entirely different conversation.
Anyways, why am I writing this?
I’ve had co-workers, family, and friends produce faces agape when I respond that we would, in theory, like 4 or 5 children. I have been told that I won’t be able to provide enough attention to my children, that my financial resources wouldn’t stretch enough, that I need to think of their education and how can I do that with 5 kids, it isn’t fair, that my kids wouldn’t be able to get nice things, that I don’t have a big enough house to accommodate that many kids, etc.
Yes, I need to do a better job of tuning this out and not listening to “nay-sayers”. They aren’t the ones that have the responsibility of raising 5 kids. It would be mine and my husband’s task, no one else’s. Why is this life choice any less legitimate than having 1-2 or no kids?
Our culture is obsessed with independence, monetary success, and education. We might be able to rear intelligent individuals, but are we raising up the next kind and generous generation? Yes, my kids might not get the latest toy, meals might be simpler and at home more, they might have to work instead of having everything bought for them, but they will be encouraged, loved, and prayed over.
One income families are rare these days. Yes, the cost of living has increased significantly and wages don’t seem to have risen at the same degree, but needs and wants are two very different things. I would love to give my kids the opportunity for a great education. Does that mean college is a necessity? No, what if I educated them to be self-sufficient, teaching them necessary life items like mechanics, carpentry, sewing, and cooking. There are fewer people entering the trades. Skilled artisans are required to help society keep going. If everyone is at a desk, who will actually hammer a nail, patch a worn garment, or fix a leaky gas line?
I have been told to honestly think about this choice, an unstated assumption that I haven’t weighed my options and carefully considered what rearing five children entails.
In regards to attention, I think this society is starved for quality time. We are addicted to our technological gadgets. There are families that will sit at a table all playing individual games, ex: Candy Crush, while not uttering a word to each other. I don’t think the number of children matters in the attention arena. A parent can either give attention to their kids or not. There have been parents that work so hard they don’t make room for their kids, parents that hover too much, and everything in between. Attention giving is a delicate balance and just because you have more children doesn’t mean you won’t be able to love your children equally, granting similar attention to all. While I digress with the subsequent statement, I think it holds more weight in regards to lack of attention than family size does; technology, while useful, has given rise to isolation, an increase in depression, and increased feelings of rejection, especially when discussing social media use.
“Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.”-Ps. 127:3
Let us stop thinking of children as commodities, burdens, or chores. May we realize that you can live a rich and fulfilling life with a small nuclear family or a large brood. Joy is not dependent on financial gain, educational pursuits, or undivided attention. Rather, children are the next generation and it is up to us to equip them with the ability to be good stewards of God’s kingdom on earth. It takes children from all walks of life, from large families to small, to correctly glorify God this side of heaven.
May we realize what a reward children are and that whatever works for a particular couple—be it a dynamic, bustling unit of multiple kids running around or a subdued atmosphere of just three, that it is all for God, his plans and his purposes.
Let us not see differences like this as wrong, but just what it is, a difference in preference and God looks favorably on both. [There isn’t Scripture that explicitly states what size family you need to have.]
*Also, I need to stop caring what other people think and start tuning them out. “Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Gal. 1:10 NRSV Oh Lord, I want to be found a servant of you and not of this world. Let it be so.