A Heritage and a Blessing
by Karen Meyer
Unlike China, America doesn’t limit family size to one child. So why is our birthrate dwindling? A “large family” of today might have four children. In the 1950’s, a four-child family was the average.
We hear all sorts of answers and justifications from society today:
“Costs of college education rise steeply.” [It's TOO expensive!]
“Women now make up fifty-two percent of the labor force in the U.S.” [Moms and too tired and too busy!]
“Total cost of raising a child to adulthood increases.” [Did I mention too expensive?!]
“Cost of living rises in all categories—food, clothing, housing, transportation.” [We won't be able to live like we're used to!]
“Women who are already mothers have more abortions than anyone else … 72%.” [Another child is simply an inconvenience!]
Most of these quotations suggest an economic factor in limiting family size.
But, there is a social factor as well. A friend told me her OB-GYN frowned when he heard that she was expecting a third child. He warned against “middle child syndrome.” Another mother finally went to a midwife and home delivery for her 11th child, due to negative comments by doctors and nurses.
When all our friends have one or two children, we figure that’s a good number.
How should we make the decision about how many children to have?
I would urge Christians to seek counsel from God and his Word.
God created Adam and Eve and told them to be “fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:27,28, 2:24) This mandate hasn’t been rescinded, as far as I know.
God chose Abraham (Gen. 18:19) because he would command his children to follow the way of the Lord.
Psalms 127:3-5 speaks of children as “a heritage of the Lord: the fruit of the womb is His reward. Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them…”
I can personally attest that “Happy” is a great description of parenthood, and grand-parenthood after that.
So, I ask you to pause a moment, especially if you are thinking, “All right, I have two and that’s plenty!” I understand, they’re demanding all your time and attention. It’s exhausting. And really, why should you upset the equilibrium by bringing in a baby?
I predict those two children will be thrilled to have a sibling. I predict they’ll be less inclined to being self-centered and become your little helpers. Mothers of four or more children find that they’re more relaxed and patient than when they had just two. Yes, it’s a lot of work to raise a large family, but you have experience now, and that helps!
What about that money question? They are valid, of course! Yes, you’ll probably have an older car, a smaller house, and fewer fancy vacations. These things pass away, get broken, or are forgotten. Those precious children will be your heritage.
As someone who has done it before (and would do it again), here are some suggestions from moms who have big families—they would want you to know that it can be done.
- Get organized, make lists, give the children jobs.
- Spend time alone with each child, maybe as you go on an errand, or even a special birthday event.
- Pay the older children when they do extra jobs, like babysitting.
- Use space creatively, for bedrooms, bathrooms and storage.
- Take steps to keep the marriage strong. Date nights and/or alone time are crucial.
- Examine wants vs. needs to keep the budget from getting broken.
- Learn to live with a little clutter—kids are more important than a spotless house. They do grow up and leave home.
Parents have a great privilege to bring a child into the world and train him to be a servant of the Lord. There is no greater investment in our future than leaving a godly legacy in the form of children and grandchildren.
Karen Meyer is a mother of six, grandmother of ten, and the author of two historical novels for young people . . . and is “giving birth” to a third.