What Is The Right Family Size

So times have changed, but does the family need to? Maybe, maybe not. From the looks on the faces though this may not be the best family to ask. (Image: anyjazz65)

So, what size is your family?  Yeah, I know, that is being a little forward isn’t it.  It is a topic that comes up in our house every now and then though.  Currently we have three kids.  We are currently in the process of adopting our fourth.  Hopefully she will be home with us by the end of the summer.  I remember getting comments from friends and family when we announced we were pregnant with our third.  He heard lots of, “Wow, already?” and, “You want a big family huh?” and, “You know you will be out numbered don’t you?”  Seriously, when was three kids a large family?  Don’t you people watch TLC?  Anyway, we received similar comments with the announcement of our adoption as well.  No one said it to be hurtful, and it wasn’t, but it has prompted conversation.

For starters? We have talked about what size of family we want.  To be honest, we don’t know.  Our pregnancies have become progressively more difficult and adoption simply takes a lot out of you, emotionally, physically, and financially.  So to that end we will just have to wait and see what God has planned for us.  For now I would say we are in a holding pattern, well after the addition of our new daughter we will be.  Despite the holding pattern, the topic of family size still comes up regularly.  Just the other day my wife sent me a link to an article titled, “Large Families: Blessings or Burdens?“  It is a great article and does a great job of looking at family size historically and addressing some of the more modern questions and concerns around large families.  I highly recommend you hope over and read it.

One topic that kept coming up in the article is that of family dynamics.  Mary Oystn, from Owlhaven.net, mentions it several times.  It is also one of the most appealing aspects of large families for Kim and me.  As an example, Mary gives the following quote in the article:

“Sure, there are times when they [her kids] fight, but much of the time they truly enjoy each other. Sometimes people fear that kids in a big family won’t get enough attention. But having a big family is not about depriving kids of relationships—it is about providing them with more people to love and who love them,”

The more typical family, Mom, Dad, 2.5 kids... 0.5 kid not shown. (Image: Pavel Losevsky)

We are friends with several large families and they seem so relationally rich and emotionally full.  I am not going to say smaller families aren’t, but there is something about the larger families that make you stop and admire them.  Not for simply surviving, but for how they interact, support, encourage and care for each other.  Okay, okay, to be completely honest, Kim and I have always said that we would like a large family, we just weren’t sure if we could survive that many infants.  I guess we will just have to wait and see where God leads us.  I am sure it will be somewhere we are not even anticipating right now.

Okay, so this post really isn’t going to do much more than to give you something to think about.  I am not going to say that 12 kids is better than 2, or anything silly like that.  Just trying to get those wheels turning on what your family may look like in 10 years.  While you are thinking, here are a few gems I have picked up that float around in my head regarding families:

  • From our Weekend to Remember marriage retreat; From a large study a few years ago, the most unhappy group of people were couples in the 20 & 30 with children at home.
  • From the same study; the happiest people (by far) were older adults with grown children.  Proof things get better, a lot better.
  • You may be out numbered, but as long as you can pick up more than one at a time you can still win!
  • The best toy your kids will ever have is Dad.  Mom runs a really really close second.
  • There is nothing funnier than the fashion sense of a two year-old.
  • Parenting is not a science.  I don’t care what the book says!  It isn’t an art form no matter how may markers your kids use on the wall.  Parenting is a way of life and it lasts a lifetime.
  • Our kids are our legacy; who they become in the future is most influenced by who we are in the present.
  • Moms are the most amazing creations God ever breathed into existence!

I would love to have your take on the subject.  Large family or small family?  Concerns with either? Observations?  Let me know in the comments.

8 comments to What Is The Right Family Size

  • Guest

    You should consider the fact that not all families want more than two children and it's not bad to have or just want two or even one for that matter. Some feel that God is calling them to love and care for one or two children, and they, along with families with a lot of children, shouldn't feel alienated by the size of theirs. Two is a perfect number for some.

  • Isn't it amazing how much society has changed in the last century? We have a local "farmer's museum" where they recreate a village from 1850… and the farmhouse that they showcase was the Lippitt family — they had 9 bio kids and 4 adopted… and because of their 13 kids they were considered to be particularly blessed. We've come a long way, huh? (not necessarily in the right direction).

    • We have. You didn't mention that they all lived in a small farm house that would be considered a studio apartment by todays standards. We are so blessed and often don't even understand how. We have are considering putting three kids in the same room and everyone thinks were nuts. :-)

  • This is a thought provoking post. I am a first-time reader, but I thought I would comment anyway, because this is a topic that I have been thinking about lately. I was born into what some consider a "large" family, six children, but we have friends that have much larger families than that. Anyway, I have been married for almost 6 yrs now, and we have 3 yr old twins. My husband and I talked about kids before we got married, but we didn't really know "how many" we would want to have, and of course, we want to follow God's will for our lives… but, I don't know what "God's will" is on the subject of how many children to have! Now that we have twins, my hubby wants to stop while we can still manage…he thinks about providing for them for the future (and now), and he gets stressed easily. Anyway, right now I feel that my hands are full, but I don't want to close the door to maybe having another child, and really, I have guilt about only having 2 children. My siblings are lifelong friends, and I don't want to cheat my kids out of those close relationships. I don't want to have 6 children or more, but I feel guilty for not wanting to. I like being able to do things with my children that I would not be able to do if we had a large family…more one on one time, etc. I wouldn't mind having another child in the future, I love children (especially mine ;) ), but I don't want to have several more. Again, I just feel guilty about that! Ha! Anyway, I think that people should have the number of children that they can raise well – to the best of their ability in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord". That number is different for most people. Some large families have the most well rounded, happy children that I have seen, and some definitely do not. The same goes for small families. But, I have friends that believe it is wrong to decide how many children they will have – honestly, I don't know. Each family is different! To me, the quality of the relationship that I have with my children, and the ability that I have to train them (with God's Grace!) is more important than the number of children that I have. Obviously, I am still learning! These are just some thoughts I have had on the subject, I have a lot to learn about raising children!
    My recent post A Medley of Summer Pictures

    • Wow, thank you for your comment Beth. I am glad this gave you something to think about. Just to be clear, I am not saying that one is better than the other. Ultimately, parents have to make this choice for themselves given their desires and personalities. Hopefully Godly wisdom will be sought as well. I am pretty sure that there is no need to feel guilty regardless of that choice.

      This was simply the thoughts my wife and I are working through and some information we found. It made us think and converse and I am glad it is for others as well. I am very glad you took time to comment. I am positive the Lord will provide an answer if you keep seeking Him.

  • Thanks for your response! I feel a little embarrassed now that I gave too much information! Oh well! I start typing out thoughts & get carried away! Anyhow, thanks for your thoughts on the subject. It is nice to read about "family size" from a Christian perspective.
    My recent post A Medley of Summer Pictures

    • I don't know that you gave too much information. There real concerns and real decisions of faith to be made on this subject. I have friends like yours that believe any planning or manipulation of family size is plain wrong. I also have those that hold dearly that God gave us modern medicine so we had better use it. I expect the truth is somewhere in the middle. You brought up the internal battle of finding that truth and I am sure you are not alone. We have been there too.

  • Aimee

    I love the information you gave. I think parents should decide what they can handle/support. I have a great many friends who cannot have children (physically) and those who have smaller families due to problems that have come up. I think the best things is for people not to say anything to anyone else because you really don't know their circumstances. A family friend couldn't have any children than just one (very difficult to conceive and then complications). They are catholic and people are forever asking (jokingly or not) why don't they have more. Some people joke they are bad catholics for only having ONE child. It's painful and I hate that. My husband and I are trying to have children now and it's proving difficult. I wish people were just nicer overall.

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