Why So Many Children?: Part 1

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.

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Comments

  1. Kathi Bailey says:

    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!

    -Kathi@6arrows

  2. 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.

    • Robert Gumpert says:

      @Mrs W,
      I would like to encourage anyone that desires to let the Lord
      determine family size(as truly, it is only HE that opens the womb),
      to be thick skinned. Debi and I are the parents of twelve(12)
      (living) and we have other friends that also have “large” families.
      I will be the first to admit that there are challenges to raising and
      socializing with this many BLESSINGS. We do however, generally
      qualify for “group” rates at most places that do not offer a “family”
      rate! (So much for small consolations?)
      The joys of parenting are not always readily apparent and the
      novelty of large families attracts attention that is an opening for
      witnessing to our brothers and sisters. The “world” cannot grasp
      the truth without His light. All of these arrows came to salvation
      by eight years of age and some have provided light internationally.
      We have been in Granbury since 1987 and are recognized(for better
      or worse) almost everywhere.
      Enough about us.
      Stick to your convictions! The Lord alone has His plan for you.
      Raising children is a HOLY job and wholly consuming process.
      They are not ours. They have been entrusted to FAITHFUL
      servants for the KINGDOM of God. When you get one of these
      comments, realize the God just opened a door.
      The REAL challenge is when your immediate family(i.e. Mom
      Dad, Grand parents) or brothers and sisters in Christ do the
      variations of “why”. The admonishment of scripture
      HEBREWS 3:13 “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin”
      should be a motivator to call(email, text, etc..) another large
      family mom. Be your own support group and surround yourself
      with those of like minded families. You are doing the primary
      growth method of the Bride of Christ.
      In Christ,
      Rob and Debi Gumpert

  3. 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!

  4. You know, it is all in our perspective…to my family, our decision to have three children was unfathomable…it 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.

  5. Anonymous says:

    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.
    Julia

  6. do you think the reality shows like “jon and kate” are making people think more positively about large families?

  7. 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!)

  8. Smockity Frocks says:

    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.

  9. Smockity Frocks says:

    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.”

  10. looneymom says:

    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!

  11. Cardamoms Pod says:

    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!

  12. The Westlake Family says:

    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.

  13. Currently I have 6 children. I have learned
    Child limiting is part of a political agenda http://www.radioliberty.com/pca.htm
    Here is the real site:
    http://www.populationconnection.org/site/PageServer

    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.

  14. Oh no…I so hope I didn’t come off as obnoxious at the Faithful Bloggers dinner. To be honest I don’t remember how I asked you about your number of kiddos. But please know that I’m more envious than anything else. I always have a smidgen of jealousy when I see large families. My body just wasn’t meant to have that many so I just strive to love the goodness right out of what God did bless me with.

  15. I just wanted to say that your family seems so sweet, loving, lovely, beautiful, & intelligent.☺ I always loved large families and wished I could of had more than my 3. I come from a large family , but didn’t have one myself . Nothing wrong with having as many as you want or that God will allow. ♥

  16. We get that comment a lot too. As the mother of 6 boys are you trying for a girl NO!!! We did not start out wanting six. Hubby vasectomy did not work twice. So we are blessed to have our boys and look forward to having more. Connie how does your son feel about being the only boy.

  17. I get frustrated with rude comments like all of these…

    Hubby & I have been married for 11 years with our 4th son on the way. Not only have close friends hurt my feelings; questioning financially how, how this one has to be a girl, am I trying again since it’s another boy, but family has been just as bad, not to mention strangers. Most of these family & friends are more concerned with spending money on themselves as opposed to their families, so they don’t understand frugalty. But I’m happy with my four sons & of course would love a little girl, but due to health reasons will probably adopt any child after this.

    My father even wrote in my husband’s birthday card, ” Time to tie a knot in it old man.” :-/

  18. I love the “good for you” comments we get.

    So, good for you!

    We have 8, also. 6 boys, 2 girls, as well as 1 boy who only lived 12 days. We’ve had two recent miscarriages and that got almost as much criticism as the pregnancies would have, had they not ended early. (I THOUGHT YOU WERE DONE!)

  19. Maggers says:

    I know how you feel. I have 14.

  20. Maggers says:

    Actually, they usually assume I’m on my second husband and it’s a collection of his previous children, my previous children and children we have had together…

  21. We have been Blessed with 8 chicldren. I’ve heard many rude remarks but the one I think is the funniest. I was in line checking out at Sam’s pregnant with #7 and the checker asked is this your first :) well no it’s my 7th. Her remark “Are they all buy the same Man?” I was in shock and just said “Well yes!” I told my husband that evening what she said and he said “You should of told her I Have NO Idea Who There All Buy” I told him I go into Sam’s to much to have that reputation. People are so Funny!

  22. Stacy Banta says:

    I have three kids and get those questions a lot. “Are you going to have any more?” “Are you done?” I’m amazed at how these people actually expect you to answer as quickly and easily as if they were just asking how many kids we have or if we had any kids. The hard part is I don’t want to give a full answer and the “I don’t know” only prompts more inquiry. The truth is I’d love to have another baby, but have lost 3 to miscarriage in the last 2 years and I don’t really want to announce that information to everyone I meet, although I hope it would halt the inquiry quickly. People are insatiably curious and I want to be polite, but sometimes I’d like to let them know just how rude and nosey such a question is.

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