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.