Large Families

Regular readers know that while I am from a large family, I do not plan to have one myself. I believe that having a large family is rather like having a celibate marriage in that it is ideal only for a select few, and in reality often comes about through significantly-less-than ideal circumstances. If an angel from God appeared to tell me to have a large family… then I would just have to assume that it was really not an angel.

I believe that, apart from very particular circumstances, parents are called to parent their children. Any choice that detracts from this, even the choice to have more children, should be called into question.

Not My Family, But Still Large

When I state my beliefs, I offend people. Apparently as a seventh-born child it is my duty to provide a safe-haven for those who choose to have many children. Alas, my parents were so busy with my younger siblings that they neglected to train me for this role in the world.

I often feel badly when reading comments/tweets/emails from people whom I have hurt, but sometimes I am just amused. Because, you see, it seems that many people do not know what a large family is.

I do not plan to have a large family. I do plan to ideally have… perhaps… 5 children.

It is obvious to me that there is no contradiction there because 5 children does not a large family make. It is humanly possible to really parent 5 children. But other people are silly. Some imagine that I am condemning them for having a third child. And this I find most confusing and amusing because not only do I not condemn anyone; I think of 3 children as a somewhat small family.

How many children do you imagine when you hear the term “large family?”

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84 thoughts on “Large Families

  1. Allison

    I often tell my family and friends (all non-Catholic) that I want a large family, and I mean around 5 kids. I say large family because in my life, this is considered large. Growing up Protestant, only the pastors had this many kids.

    But then I know to others, 5 really isn’t considered a large family.

  2. Tara Meghan

    That is hysterically funny! Many people probably think of 5 kids as a HUGE family. I have two children and do daycare for two others…and walking around with 4 kids I get a lot of, “are those ALL yours???”

    I think I’m finally reconciled to only two (my husband thinks it’s a good number, and based on my current ability to cope with them, he might be right!). Really, though, I think five is an absolutely delicious number of children. Four of five sounds perfect to me. Six would probably start to seriously damage my ability to cope in the modern world.

    1. Rae Post author

      I’m so glad you found it funny! It is also amusing that you have to deal with large family comments even though only 2 are actually yours!

      “Four of five sounds perfect to me. Six would probably start to seriously damage my ability to cope in the modern world.” That is *exactly* how I feel! Josh has 5 siblings (really spread out in ages) and his parents did a great job, but they are quite unique. So Josh thinks that 6 would be quite reasonable for us, but somehow the difference between 5 & 6 is huge for me. Of course check back in 10 years and I will probably have 15…

      1. almorr

        Well you could well have 15 in another 10 years. When I married my wife told me she or should I say we would have 5 children in as many years. I thought that might happen as she told me she was pregnant just 6 weeks after we got married. however, sadly she had a miscarriage soon after she told me and another miscarriage 4 months later. after the second miscarriage she had a small operation to stop the miscarriages and about 2 months later she told me she was expecting again, this time a baby boy was born and we had our daughter 11 months after that, she just told me she is expecting or third child in about 8 months, that’s wonderful. She does not believe in any form of birth control, we are not catholics but we have many friends who are and they all have large families. She is very fertile, she falls pregnant very quickly but despite that she won’t allow me to use any condoms or withdraw etc. She said that seeing all the other mothers with many children in the neighbourhood we live in makes her want to have probably more than 5 children. Talking about 15, I joked that we might end up with that number, she ‘shocked me by replying ‘well if its 15. its 15′ Quite honestly the thought of 15 makes me shudder but when I do read about couples with 15 or so its usually the wife that dictates that number. The largest family in our neighbourhood has 12 children, we have a lot of making up to do but with her being fertile and falling pregnant quickly and the doctors telling her that her husband me has a high sperm count, who knows how many children we could have in 10 years. When I go walks in the park with my pregnant wife and see other women pregnant with many children it does make me want to have a large family

  3. CM

    Too funny! Everyone thinks that I came from a large family, because I’m one of 6. I think 7 or 8 seems large, but not terribly cumbersome for some people (though clearly too many for others). To me, anything 9 or over is really starting to get to a large family.

    1. Rae Post author

      It is funny, I didn’t actually think of my family as “large” while growing up. After all, it is the people with 13-18 kids who *really* have large families. I guess “large” is “whatever is normal for me +1-2.” :-D

  4. Felipe Bezerra

    I’m the first of a family of 8. I want to have a normal (5) family.
    It was amazingly funny to see people’s reaction to my father when he answered to the question: How many children do you have? For the moment only 8.
    I love my family.
    Shalom!
    Felipe Bezerra

    1. Rae Post author

      Your dad sounds like mine! He always had the best answers to people’s prying questions. After answering people’s question of “how many children *do* you have?!” he would often add “I hope to have a large family *someday*!”

      Also, your comment made me so happy because of your definition of 5 as a “normal” family. :-D

  5. Kristy

    Rae, you’re nuts. 5 kids is ENORMOUS. That’s a 7-person family! How can you expect me to fit 7 people into my Prius? (Legally, anyway, since I’ve fit 8 in there before. (All adults; I’m not that irresponsible.) Please don’t tell the cops.)

    Kidding, obviously.

    I think perception of a “large” family is all relative (ha – pun unintended) to how you grew up: how many siblings you have, how many siblings your friends have, how many cousins you have. To me, 5 is a lot. But I didn’t grow up around families with that many kids (kids my age, anyway – my maternal grandparents were each 1 of 13-14; I forget how many). I’m one of 3, so I feel like I could handle 3. 4, for me, would be pushing it, but I still think it would be manageable. (Probably because my dad is 1 of 4, and they all turned out just fine.) 5 would cross my line of “I don’t think I can parent all my children properly.” I don’t think I have the patience for that many. I barely have the patience to deal with my cat, some days, and kids eventually talk back. ;)

    1. Michelle

      I agree with Kristy here…it depends a lot on what you grew up with and what you heard growing up. my parents had five before they divorced and we were always hearing how we had “so many kids” and stuff like that.

      Also, I’m around lots of families that have AT LEAST five children. Some have 6, some have 8 and some have “just” (haha) five. So you feel like you don’t really have a “large” family enough to call yourselves “large” if you “only” have four.

    2. Rae Post author

      Here’s the thing though: why do we all have to fit in one car? As long as we can all fit in one metro car we should be fine, right? After all, public transportation is so much better for the environment than your Prius. ;-)

      And I think that you’re entirely right about it all being relative. I know that there is no way that I could handle 5 alone, but Josh is patience incarnate (and thrives on the noise/stress of kids, isn’t that insane?) so I figure that I can just run away and hide and leave him to deal with them when I am worn out. If I were married to a more normal man then I think that 1-2 would be all I could handle.

  6. Charlie Bond

    My first reaction was to think that planning to have as many as 5 children meant you were planning on having a large family. But a moment’s thought reminded me that I came from a family with 4 children, and I can’t say that I ever felt it was a large family. Times and norms change, however, so I suppose I’ve been influenced by the current trend toward families of 2, or three children at the most. In any event, I hardly see that your views should in any way offend anyone. Some folks just seem to be awfully ready to take offense at things nowadays. God Bless you and your husband, Rae. May your family be whatever you and the Lord may choose. With best regards, Charlie

    1. Rae Post author

      Thanks! I think that you are right to point to times and norms changing. One of the reasons that my parents did a better job than just about any of the other parents of large families that I have met was that they stayed away from current norms. We didn’t have a TV, hung out with Amish friends etc. so the setting was better for a large family than the reality in which most Americans live today.

  7. Mary

    I think anything above 5 would be a large famiily. Some of my friends have 4 kids, and they seem to make it all look really easy. so witnessing them, I’ve redefined what is large. I know if i talk about them to other people, they consider their family large. Most people i work with think anything more than 1 is a large family. The can’t comprehend how you can be a parent to more than one child.

    My protestant husband makes jokes about Catholics having lots of kids, however my parents had 2, and his parents had 4 kids.

    I’d like 4 or 5 kids, but my husband wants an even number of children, because he has this theory if you have an odd number, someone will always feel left out. So if we do have 5, we’ll probably have a 6th as well. Or maybe we’ll have none. Only time will tell.

    1. Rae Post author

      Only time will tell for all of us! It is always interesting to me to find out how many people have as strong preference for an even number of children. For some reason I have always liked the idea of an odd number. It seems more natural to me (no idea why!) whereas trying to have pairs just feels forced (even though I imagine that in reality it is just as natural!).

      1. almorr

        Well you could well have 15 in another 10 years. When I married my wife told me she or should I say we would have 5 children in as many years. I thought that might happen as she told me she was pregnant just 6 weeks after we got married. however, sadly she had a miscarriage soon after she told me and another miscarriage 4 months later. after the second miscarriage she had a small operation to stop the miscarriages and about 2 months later she told me she was expecting again, this time a baby boy was born and we had our daughter 11 months after that, she just told me she is expecting or third child in about 8 months, that’s wonderful. She does not believe in any form of birth control, we are not catholics but we have many friends who are and they all have large families. She is very fertile, she falls pregnant very quickly but despite that she won’t allow me to use any condoms or withdraw etc. She said that seeing all the other mothers with many children in the neighbourhood we live in makes her want to have probably more than 5 children. Talking about 15, I joked that we might end up with that number, she ‘shocked me by replying ‘well if its 15. its 15′ Quite honestly the thought of 15 makes me shudder but when I do read about couples with 15 or so its usually the wife that dictates that number. The largest family in our neighbourhood has 12 children, we have a lot of making up to do but with her being fertile and falling pregnant quickly and the doctors telling her that her husband me has a high sperm count, who knows how many children we could have in 10 years. When I go walks in the park with my pregnant wife and see other women pregnant with many children it does make me want to have a large family

  8. Susan

    Wow, you think three kids is a small family? As an only child raised in a Protestant family (father and grandfather are only children too), I always thought three was BIG! Most of my friends had just one sibling. (Then I became Catholic and realized that five is normal in some circles.)

    Yes, I think when you said, “I do not want a large family,” people with a background similar to mine could misunderstand. :)

    1. Rae Post author

      You are right, and I know that it makes sense for others to misunderstand. And I find it an amusing misunderstanding. But my dad has 6 siblings, my mom had 4, and my husband has 5, so I think that I will think of myself as having a small family if I “only” have 3. I can’t imagine only having 2 siblings!

  9. Sarah

    I have to laugh too. I’m an only child. Five years ago, I would have thought 4 or 5 was a large family. Now, with being into NFP and knowing more families with 4-6 children, I’d say that 7+ is “large”. 4-6 is normal to me now. I guess I’d like four or five, if I get a vote. ;)

    1. Rae Post author

      Yay for laughing, and of course you get a vote. The problem is that we can vote as much as we want, only God is still in charge of determining whether the election carries any weight in reality! ;-)

  10. Salome Ellen

    In our town, even our parish, our six made a “large” family. Then some of our kids went to college where friends routinely identified themselves as “number seven of nine (or twelve, or fifteen..) I was one of two, to my parents’ regret (my mom risked her life to give me a sibling, and had an emergency hysterectomy as a result.). My husband was third of seven. I do think it is possible to parent a larger (7+) family well — my in-laws and my son-in-law’s parents did — but it’s not everybody’s calling. We thought we wanted 8, but only got six. I also think that God provides the right number of children to people who are consciously seeking to know how many that is; and it is possible to err in both directions!

    1. Rae Post author

      Identifying as “number x” is one of the fun parts of meeting others from large families! Some “outsiders” find it crude and cold, but it is something of a joke among my siblings. I have my siblings on speed-dial in my phone according to birth order (Josh gets #7 since that is my #) and it is common for one sibling to use a number as a nickname for another sibling (as in “have you talked to #6 recently?).

      “I also think that God provides the right number of children to people who are consciously seeking to know how many that is; and it is possible to err in both directions!”
      Very well said!

    2. almorr

      I do notice reading about large families there is a definite tendency for religious couples, catholic or protestant to have a large family. They are keeping to the motto “be fruitful and multiply” and a couple of other things said in the bible regarding ‘having many children’ Its strange that religion usually is against sex, but that only applies to unmarrieds, after they are married religious couples are the ones that must have the most amount of, what will I call it and not use that 3 letter word–martial relations resulting in all those children they have, they are being very fruitful when it comes to that part of marriage.

  11. Michelle

    It can depend on the circles you run with. WE have friends who homeschool and such and they all have 5 or more children. It’s the norm.

    At our Catholic parish, a family with 5 children is considered a large family. A large majority of the families have 2 or 3 children.

    1. Rae Post author

      I’ve observed a similar trend in homeschool families vs. Catholic school families. I wonder if it is consistently true across the US?

    2. almorr

      It depends in the area you live in, even if you are a catholic. In area’s where there are small families 3 or less couples will generally not have any more. other areas where large families are, a couple with 2 kids will want more, sort of to keep up with the other neighbours, my wife and I do want more, she is expecting our 3rd child after having 2 miscarriages in the first year we were married, we live in a area where there are many couples with many children, it sort of wants me just to keep going, not sure how many well will have altogether, my wife although not a catholic does not believe in birth control and won’t allow me to use anything either.

  12. Jeanine

    We tell people we’d be happy with 12…then we wait for the shocked face to subside and tell them that we plan to welcome as many children as God chooses to bless us with. Then the shocked face returns but worse! People don’t know how to handle THAT! We’re on #1 right now. :)

    1. Rae Post author

      Haha, good for you! I think that if you’re “open” to having a large family you need to be able to enjoy (or at least respond positively) to the shock and awe that you encounter.

    2. almorr

      Although many couples who do have a large family are religious, not all couples are that, I read of a couple in New Zealand, photo’s of them too. The wife and her husband said they were NOT at all religious but a lot of people thought they were.. They eventually had 14 altogether. They taught all the children good moral teachings, but not the teachings from the bible.

  13. Dawn Farias

    “How many children do you imagine when you hear the term “large family?””

    8.

    Between 4 and 7? Big.

    We have four. We are not ready for another right now, but I think once we get another year or two ahead of us, God willing, we could have another two? (so that one won’t be alone by being so much younger than the olders??)

    1. Rae Post author

      I love how precise your numbers are! :-D And I think there is a lot of wisdom in your approach. What may be “too much” if the children are all born in a row may be perfectly manageable when they are spread out a bit more.

      1. Dawn Farias

        Yes, I think there may be some truth in that. We have friends that are parents to 10 kids. There’s a five year spacing between the first five and the second. I like to tease them that they had a larger than normal-sized family, waited FIVE years, and then had ANOTHER larger than normal-sized family.

    2. almorr

      Defination of a large family depends where you live, in Africa a large family only starts at 9, I n Europe and North America 4 could be considered as a large family, even certain area’s of cities you can get large families in a certain parts. Unfortunately in the UK it is considered under certain circumstances to be “unsocial” to keep on having children, especially if the man is unemployed, the word scroungers comes to mind, the state has to pay for all those children, however if a man is working and has 8+ kids, that’s OK

  14. Kathleen

    Anything over 5 I start to think of as on the large side. I’m the oldest of three, and I always wished I had more siblings growing up. I’d love to have around 4-5, but that will also be up to my husband, God, and my reproductive system!

    1. Rae Post author

      I sometimes feel like all of the “fun” in this sort of thing is in blog discussions. Real planning stinks because we have so much less control.

  15. Christine

    I think a large family is one that cannot fit in your standard mini van together. I have 2 siblings and sometimes that seemed large enough – especially when we were able to fill my parent’s 1986 Surburban entirely on all our family vacations with the five of us!

    I think I’d like to have 2 -3 kids and that would be plenty large enough for us. But I guess that’s up to God. :)

    1. Rae Post author

      I grew up with 15-passenger vans, and I still feel like 1 child per seat is a good thing! ;-)

      And you’re quite right that it is all ultimately up to God.

    1. Rae Post author

      You didn’t answer the question! ;-) No, wait. You’ve told me before. You’re one of the first people I heard who felt like an even number was important. So I guess that means you’d better hurry up and start planning for #2 so that this baby isn’t alone for long. (entirely joking)

  16. That Married Couple

    What a fun question! The responses really do seem to vary based on your situation. I’m one of three, and had always wanted 4 kids – a “big” family. Then, as so many others have mentioned, I started seeing larger families and now think that 5 or 6 are necessary to call it large. Also, I like Christine’s point about all being able to fit in one van!

    1. Rae Post author

      I thought you were looking forward to driving a large van! Or was that just a minivan? Josh’s mother drives a Ford Excursion (9 passenger) and *loves* it (as do the kids since it is fairly spacious and comfortable). It seems like something that might work well with your future plans (see? I’m so helpful… and clearly know so little about farms! ;-)).

  17. Elisa

    I think 11 kids, like my husband’s family. THAT is large. I think 4 is on the small side…that’s my family, only 3 brothers, and no sisters, what a rip-off! We will see how many God gives us. We just take them as they come, and since I nurse my babies for 18 months and I am not fertile while nursing, and then there are the occasional deployements and TDY’s when my husband is gone…I imagine we’ll end up with about 6 or so. But I really don’t know. I think we will know when God puts in on our heart to start doing NFP for real, b/c we have been quite fortunate that we haven’t “had” to do it now due to the already mentioned circumstances.

    1. Rae Post author

      That is a rip-off! I too have 3 brothers, but I also have 7 sisters! Now that is more like the way things should be. ;-)

      It sounds like you’re walking in peace with family planning now, and that is the thing we should all be striving for.

  18. Young Mom

    This made me smile too, I’ve felt the same way! I think my perspective has changed somewhat, since I now think of 5 as a good-sized family and I think 6 should be considered large because you will not longer fit in the mini-van all together. For me? I love kids, but I also want to be able to be there for each of them, I’m not sure what that means yet. I can’t imagine saying “I’m done” at a specific number, but we better start spacing after this one or we are going to end up with 20! We started young and my mom had her last (she thinks) at 45, so I could be fertile for another 20 years.

    1. Rae Post author

      I love it that I feel like we can so understand each other on this issue, even though so far our lives are going very different directions. Women in my family seem to stay very fertile very late, so I know precisely what you mean.

  19. Michelle

    In my opinion, small families have 1-3 children, medium-sized families have 4-6 children, and large is 7 children or more. At that point you can’t all fit in the same vehicle (my minivan holds 8 total people), unless it is one of those big 12-passenger vans. I have five children. Some people tell me that’s a big family. Some days it feels like a big family. Everyone just needs to be respectful of others’ perspectives. I agree not everyone is called to have a big, or huge, family.

    1. Rae Post author

      I like your view. It is funny though that I still don’t think of 12-passenger vans as “large” because for years the 15-passenger was the “normal car” in my family and the mini van was the “little car.” But now that I think about having to drive a 12-passenger, it seems *huge*!

  20. Mama Kalila

    I say we want a large family, when we want 6 kids… Is large compared to most of my family… There’s some bigger in my husbands side but they’re all grown… We’ll see what happens. I’m gonna get flack from some on both sides if we do lol. Well more on MIL’s side of hubby’s but still.

    1. Rae Post author

      I hope that your MIL doesn’t end up being too much of a pain! Our situation is the opposite of most in that our families would think it was good for us to have a large family/homeschool/homebirth etc. etc. But in any case family fights about your decisions are just draining!

  21. Melody

    Maybe family sizes are a little like clothing sizes: 1-2 kids is S, 3-4 is M, 5-8 is L, 8-12 is XL, and the Duggars are 2XXL. I agree with you that large families are a calling that is not for everyone. Sometimes people make the assumption that people with 1,2 or 3 kids must be doing something illicit, because NFP “doesn’t really work”, it’s just a good way to do penance.
    Actually the science is sound and it compares well with the Pill when the rules are followed.
    I agree with Michelle that we just need to be respectful of one another’s perspectives.

  22. Kimi

    Rae, I love reading about your life and your opinions (even when I don’t agree). That’s what blogging and blog reading is all about! Even though I am a mom of nine (a LARGE family by any measure), I’m not at all offended by your choice not to have a larger family and/or your defense of it. Say all you want about your feelings and your choices, but please leave the criticisms to yourself!

    Your paragraph number one above – decision, (Regular readers know that while I am from a large family, I do not plan to have one myself.) opinionated analogy, ( I believe that having a large family is rather like having a celibate marriage in that it is ideal only for a select few, and in reality often comes about through significantly-less-than ideal circumstances.) denial (If an angel from God appeared to tell me to have a large family… then I would just have to assume that it was really not an angel.)… fine.

    Paragraph two – opinion, (I believe that, apart from very particular circumstances, parents are called to parent their children.) followed by ? ( Any choice that detracts from this, even the choice to have more children, should be called into question.) Your statement implies that those who ‘choose’ (or who are chosen by God – even in sometimes significantly less-than-ideal circumstances ) to have more than the ‘standard family allotment number of five children’ do not possess the parenting skills/ability to effectively parent.

    It is not your duty to provide a safe haven or an excuse for large families. It is also not your duty to make broad generalizations about large families. You grew up in one and it wasn’t ideal; neither was your parenting. You felt neglected, unprepared for the world, whatever… write about your personal experiences. Be as negative as you want. State your opinion. But for you to feed into the negativity that parents are faced with who are trying to live in the world but not of the world, is just counter-productive. Not only that, one couple may be overwhelmed with two or three children while another couple may be well suited to raise (parent) a dozen. Can you see that there are many issues (strength of marriage, personalities, support system, finances, spirituality, etc.) that factor into the overall success of parenting with ANY number of children?

    It is your statement in paragraph 5 that uses a really broad brush stroke to paint the stereotype, ” It is humanly possible to really parent 5 children.” (emphasis on parent, yours) Your implication? “It is humanly IMpossible to really parent more than 5 children.” (emphasis, mine) If I wondered after paragraph two whether or not I was wrong about my assumptions while reading, this line sealed the deal.

    The humor of this post was not lost on me. I understand your points and had fun reading the responses based on other readers’ experiences and opinions. I had to really stop and think about when I felt like we became a ‘large family’… three? (more than one for each knee!)… five? (more than one for all four of our knees!)… eight? (we outgrew the minivan!) Most days I don’t think about the fact that we are a large family at all. We just do what we love doing and what we have been called to do. In fact, sometimes I think to myself, “Holy cow! I have NINE children!!!” I appreciate when people admire the vocation that I live out and I grieve for those unable to realize the dream of motherhood. For whatever reason, God has entrusted me to raise nine souls and I take my job very seriously…. as I know that most mothers of ANY size family do. There will always be exceptions. But let’s try to build the kingdom by building up each other, even in the midst of our personal experiences (good and bad) and our varying opinions in this diverse world.

    Thanks for the opportunity to respond, Rae.

    1. Rae Post author

      “You grew up in one and it wasn’t ideal; neither was your parenting. You felt neglected, unprepared for the world, whatever…”
      You completely misunderstand my background. My parents are great parents. I have never met another father who was as involved as mine. I have often said that the reason that I know that it is not humanly possible to really parent a large family is because if anyone could have done it it would have been my parents.

      My view is not merely based on my personal experience, but on the experience of everyone I know who grew up in a genuinely large family.

      “It is humanly IMpossible to really parent more than 5 children.”
      It is simply a fact that humans are naturally limited. Without supernatural intervention there is not time enough in the day to really know, and thus parent, all of the children in a large family. Presumably, if a couple is specifically called to it then God has given them special grace, so why take issue with the fact that I do not believe it to be a natural human talent?

      You are more than welcome to read my blog, question, and even criticize me any time. I greatly appreciate those who suggest clearer ways of phrasing things. But sometimes in the very demanding life of a mother it is necessary to surround oneself with safe places of encouragement. And this blog is for my thoughts (which tend more toward showing the world as I see it rather than trying to encourage others through their trials) so I would completely understand you needing to not read here. If you’re looking for more blogs to read then perhaps you would enjoy http://www.aholyexperience.com/ I am quite confident that you will find it uplifting and encouraging in your journey.

  23. Kimi

    The only statement that you made about your parents was negative. (Alas, my parents were so busy with my younger siblings that they neglected to train me for this role in the world.) Thank you for your clarification.

    ” Without supernatural intervention there is not time enough in the day to really know, and thus parent, all of the children in a large family.”
    Thankfully, God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. Exactly how much time in a day DOES it take to know and really parent a child, Rae? Enough for five? How much time does it take for five? four? six? And how do you arrive at those numbers? Whether or not it’s a ‘natural human talent’, thank God that there is a special grace given to the called if we are open to receiving it. It’s a gift; like faith.

    I don’t consider my life ‘very demanding’ because I’m a mother of many. I have dedicated my entire adult life to making sure that each of my children are known, and thus, parented. I am not looking to blogs for encouragement because I don’t feel as if I have trials that can be solved by opinions. I was merely surprised at the absolutes and your ‘line in the sand’ approach to declaring who is and is not ‘really’ parenting… and surprised at your use of words like “silly” and “amusing” to describe your readers’ reactions.

    “…not only do I not condemn anyone…”
    I guess this phrase is only true if one has chosen or been chosen to co-create five times or less which “I find most confusing and amusing” because after all — There is No Wealth but Life.

    Thanks again for the opportunity to respond.

    1. Rae Post author

      “The only statement that you made about your parents was negative. (Alas, my parents were so busy with my younger siblings that they neglected to train me for this role in the world.) Thank you for your clarification.”
      It seems that more clarification is needed. That statement was entirely tongue-in-cheek. I am afraid that our senses of humor are so far apart (to me words like “alas” and “silly” are indicators of humor and double-meanings, to you they are apparently serious indicators of insults?) that I will not be able to blog in such a way as is helpful for you.

      I don’t feel any condemnation for parents of large families. You read my words as condemning. I feel as though I cannot explain each line, because I am afraid that even my explanations may simply offend you more. And I do not want to hurt you.

      Yet I also do not want to censor myself and stifle my sense of humor in an attempt to be bland enough to avoid offending anyone. Perhaps I will get around to actually posting about that one day. :-)

      Also, I have a draft post somewhat related to this issue that I’ve been working on for a while. It wasn’t written because of you, but it might be helpful in understanding a bit more of why I struggle to understand you. :-)

  24. Melody

    To continue the clothing sizes analogy, “one size doesn’t fit all”!
    I remember my mother telling the story of when she was a new mother (I am the oldest of 5), and she was talking to an older lady who was the mother of 8. Mom said “I don’t know how you kept up with 8! One takes up all of my time.” The lady said, “Well, 8 took up all of my time, too. All you have is all of your time!”

    1. Rae Post author

      I love that story! My mom used to tell people that if 2 children take up all of your time then there is no way that 3 can take up any more. And while she was obviously joking (at least obvious to me–maybe I got my warped humor from my parents!) she was partly serious in that the more children you have the more they help to take care of each other–whether it is the 3 & 5 year-olds playing together or the 12-year-old giving the 2-year-old a snack.

  25. Elisa

    Drama. I pretty much believe that if you have a blog you can say whatever you want on it and people shouldn’t lecture you on it. If you want to lecture (or need to vent) do so on your own blog, not in the comment section of someone else’s blog.

  26. MyFeminineMind

    I am the youngest of three. To me large is 4 or more. I’ve noticed a few others think that ‘large’ means more than their parent’s had. I guess we all consider the family we come from as normal and small or large is more or less than that. Haha. I want four kids at the moment.

  27. alison

    Woah, lots ‘o comments on this one, don’t know how I missed it! I’m curious how you came up with the number 5 as “humanly possible to parent” (I often felt neglected as one of 4 – but then again, I was a needy/problem child and I think it was probably for the best that my parents didn’t give me any more attention!) and to see, like you said, how that will match up in oh, 10-15 years :) In my experience, everyone *thinks* they want a certain number but when the reality sets in, this number must be reevaluated. I don’t know if I’ve yet to meet a couple who has actually stuck to the number they originally *wanted*. Parenting seems to be much more individually determined than we concede.
    As for us, my husband came from 3 and I came from 4, so I would at least like as many (4). I say “at least” but I’m fully aware that the election may be rigged ;)

    1. Rae Post author

      I didn’t mean that everyone can parent X# of children. I know that some people can’t parent 1. But I’ve seen 5 parented well. Josh is 1 of 6 and I’d say they were all really parented by the parents, even though Josh helped out a lot with the babies while his father was gone for work for weeks at a time. But I’ve seen many 7+ families and never seen one where the parents actually had enough time to really parent all of the children. There is a huge difference between managing and parenting.

      And I so agree with you about reality changing things. My dad taught me that if you don’t have a plan you won’t be able to be flexible because you have nothing to flex from!

  28. alison

    Oh yeah, and about the even number thing, I think its more serious than maybe you give credence? Not just to have a “buddy” like, Duggar style (planned and coordinated) but to avoid having a “middle child” syndrome where someone is left out. While I really like to claim middle child-age (with the older two as twins, they count as one, right?) I’m really not since there’s four of us. My husband, being the middle of 3, swears against having 3 kids (even though he also says it never bothers him…hm…something doesn’t line up…) but doesn’t care if the number is beyond that. Maybe its only an issue that comes with the number 3?

    1. That Married Couple

      I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole middle child thing really is based on only having 3 kids. I read some birth order books back in high school, and they always just talked about the oldest, the middle, and the youngest. Of course, that’s the reason I initially decided I wanted four kids – I along with several friends was the oldest of three, and we were sure that the middle child was a bit screwed up. Then I married a middle child, though, and decided maybe they weren’t completely messed up ;)

      1. Rae Post author

        Oh, I think I’m going to have to post on this. I think that Elizabeth is right that all bets are off when you’re talking about more than 3.

  29. Allison Welch

    The very first lesson I learned as a mother (and I’m still being taught it daily) is that the word “plan” is a four letter word. If you want to make God laugh, tell your plans… Life is what happens when your busy making plans… Eternity is present in the now. Sometimes I look back and wonder if I missed some blessings (aka children) because I was busy “planning” my life.

    1. Rae Post author

      Ah, there is always room for regret. Either one regrets not having more, or one regrets not knowing the children one did have. Thank God for mercy in all our mistakes!

  30. Braddkurtz

    Rae,

    I was searching for a different post of yours when I found this one. I only have one sibling, my brother and I were both raised Catholic. He is, now, I think, a Methodist. (maybe? you can tell we’re really close.) My brother has 4 kids, and we all think that’s a pretty big family. You said once, (in the post I’m actually looking for) that you should only have as many children as you think you can parent. I think that’s really great advice, and something my wife and I are taking into consideration during our ongoing “should we have another kid” discussions.
    Why? Because 4 kids is a lot of humans to support in 2011. My brother works for a big, evil pharmaceutical company. He makes a lot of money–enough so that his wife can be a SAHM. But with the arrival of number 4, they are now, officially, overwhelmed. Both physically and emotionally. Clearly they thought they could handle “one more,” and I’m sure they’ll be okay…but I think they now realize maybe three was enough. His oldest child is only 8, and he’s almost completely ignored; he’s lost a lot of innocence over the last year or so.
    And I think that’s the biggest factor in our discussions. Because it seems like, with the other parents we talk to, everyone decides to have another kid (or three) for two reasons:
    1. To benefit the child you already have. Make them more sociable, introduce them to sharing, heartbreak, how to fight, give them someone to play with and/or team up with.
    2. To benefit the parents. A little bit more immortality, staves off loneliness, gives everybody something to talk about. (Okay, I’m being a little facetious here. But only a little.)
    And what about the environmental impact of large families? I’m sure you’ve heard the moldy statistic that 1 American child uses up more natural resources in a year than an Indian family of 5 does in the same period. Looking at it from the outside, I think the environmental impact is something that a lot of Catholics do not consider. And that makes tree-hugging, bark-eating (not really, at least in my case) environmentalists just a tad bit angry.

    1. Blogomama

      Sorry to disagree. But larger families tend to be much better environmentalist. I grew up with a environmentalist father and was also one of 7 kids. Compared to most of the families at our school who had 2 kids we were far more thrifty with gas, water and electricity. Most of my friend were driving their own SUV’s separately from their younger sibling who also had a car. My friend had TVs and radios in their bedrooms, kitchens, and family rooms. They had video games, too. We had one TV for the whole family and three cars for 9 people. My parents made us turn off lights when we left rooms and take the school bus. Smaller families are at risk of giving their kids consumerist attitudes and sense of entitlement, where large families has many opportunities to teach their kids to reduce reuse and recycle from a young age because there really isn’t another option.

  31. Em

    I’m one of three (as is my boyfriend) and I would not have more than three.
    I may have SOME aspects of middle child syndrome but its a lot better being the middle of three than the middle of 7 (ie more attention)
    Why not four?
    Costs-We want to send our children to private schools-$30-50,000 a year.
    Time-I plan on working at least 3 days a week and my bf is a barrister and works 100 hours some weeks, my mother worked part time and we felt we just got the perfect amount of attention, not too much, not too little
    Relationships-I want a great relationship with my husband and friends and family as well as my children, this would be hard (I think) with more than 3 children.

    We will be raising our children as Catholic (due to my boyfriends heritage) but I am agnostic and we won’t be indoctrinating our children with religion.

    1. Braddkurtz

      “We will be raising our children as Catholic (due to my boyfriends heritage) but I am agnostic and we won’t be indoctrinating our children with religion.”

      Well, I wish you luck with that. I have a good friend who is agnostic and his wife is Catholic, and it’s a bit of a tug of war situation. I’m honestly not sure how one could raise a child as Catholic and not indoctrinate them with religion.

      I’ve struggled with God and faith issues for many years. I was once Catholic, and I float between being atheist to agnostic to deist to theist and back again. Back in the 90′s, there was a really popular song about the Crucifixion called “Wonderwall.” It was very cleverly disguised as a standard love song. It sums up how the songwriter and I feel about Jesus: “I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now…because maybe you’re gonna be the one that saves me.” Or maybe not.
      Anyway. I read Rae’s site for many reasons. I think she’s an interesting writer with a perspective that is sometimes frighteningly similar to my own, and yet at other times 3000 degrees different.
      But I’ve digressed! Have a nice day, internet people.

  32. MimiR

    ROFL! Okay, to me, once you have to make a special consideration in buying your vehicle, you start to have a “largish family.”

    So 1 is small, 2 is average (demographically speaking), 3 is slightly above average, 4-5 is large (can’t fit them all in a sedan, but they all fit in a minivan!), and 6-10 is quite large, while 11+ is huge (can’t fit everyone in a 12-passenger van!).

    I think that SOME degree of “how big is too big?” is expectations for what a normal childhood should be like. 5 kids would be HUGE if every child were involved in 3 DIFFERENT, time-consuming extracurricular activities. But if you decide that everyone does Scouts and church and that you’re going to be a gymnastics family….it becomes more manageable.

  33. Shar

    In today’s day, age, and economy having more than 3 children is considered to be a large family. That has significantly changed over the last generation, but is considered by most to be standard.

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