Family Planning Advice From A Mother Of Six
Every family is different. Every mother is different. Every family’s size should be determined based on what is best for that particular family. And it is next to impossible to understand a family’s dynamic based on size alone.
My mother in law is both gracious and wise. This means that she has said absolutely nothing directly to me about what I should or should not be doing in the way of family planning. That is a very good thing since I am neither wise nor gracious and can only imagine what I would say in response. I am sure that it would make for a wonderful blog post, but a horrible relationship.
During a recent visit the subject of family size came up. I was very happy to hear her wisdom on determining how many children to have.
She said that when her children were young people would ask her how on earth she did it all with six children. And she would dismiss their awe and think that it was really no big deal. She just did it.
But now she looks at families with ten children and thinks the exact same thing that the parents of two children used to think about her. She said she knows that if she had had a seventh child it would have broken her.
The important thing is not whether your family size seems large or small from the outside. What matters is how things work for you. And sometimes what seems so natural to you will seem dreadful to others and what seems impossible to you will be perfect for someone else.
Be wise. Be generous with yourself and your children. Be gentle with yourself and your children.
I suppose that my mother-in-law does not need to give me advice because I can read it all there between the lines of what she says as she reflects on her own life.
What is some of the best family planning advice that you have been given? Was it given directly?
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Ah, much like you, the best advice I’ve received is more from watching my MIL than actual advice. As the oldest of 2 (well, 3 counting my little brother, but he didn’t come along until I was 17 and I only lived with him every other weekend for about a year, so, we’ll stick with 2) who were always compared to one another and always competed, ever having more than 1 child seemed like such a crazy idea. Why bother, my brother and I didn’t like each other, what would make me think my children would be any different? Enter The Man and his 4 sisters – and all of a sudden, there are siblings who not only like each other, but love hanging out. And parents who, if they have a ‘favorite’, it is impossible to figure out who it is. And a MIL who temporarily adopted 3 more small children in the family until their parents could get on their feet. Oh, and my MIL was a SAHM and my FIL worked at the post office.
And while she’s never given me advice, my MIL has showed me that you just do what you need to, you love your kids, and you don’t worry about the rest. And while for a long time, I didn’t feel like children were in our future, now I know that it’s not just ‘a’ child that we want.
The best advice I was ever given was “Don’t base your family size on money. You will always have one more child than you thought you could afford.”
By default, in Romania it seems the regular family is with one child and the ideal one with two children. We have four despite the fact we planned for two, because the abortion was never an option for us. Truth is we have never ever received a direct advice for the no of children but on the other hand sometimes I feel that people around us ask themselves if we, as evangelical Christians, ever heard about planning.
The most radical family (un)planning was seen at Pentecostal Christians living especially at country side where most of the people believed that they should have as many children as God wants to give them so families with 6 children were normal, and I even have in my family an aunt with 12 children risen in very harsh conditions. I asked her, how was to raise 12 children at the country side? She said, oh, at the country side is not so difficult. So my conclusion is when you are facing a newborn fact your limit as a mother stretches a bit more to boundaries you have never imagine before.
Growing up Quiverfull, of course the only planning advice I’ve ever gotten is DON’T plan, it’s evil and wrong and it will make God angry. So naturally it makes me apprehensive to be desiring a larger gap than 14-20 months after our newest baby was born one month ago. I know that my body needs some more recovery time, andas we are facing some major life changes in the next year, it would be nice to not be pregnant or caring for a newborn through that. But that doesn’t mean I still have moments where I wonder if it is a good choice to space or limit children, and some days even half hope that I will get pregnant on “accident” so the descision is just made for us.
Probably the best advice I ever heard was not to wait until we could afford children to have them…we’d be waiting forever.
I like the previous comment about how you’ll have one more than you thought you could handle/afford. I think my husband and I may be at that point as we approach our fifth entering this world and neither of us ever expected or believed we’d be up for this task before it was handed to us. I guess we’ll find out soon enough!
This is a great post! I haven’t really heard any great advice except the one that Michelle posted- don’t wait until you can afford children to have them or it won’ t ever happen. I understand that but it still doesn’t feel like good “advice” because I’m still so very apprehensive about our financial situation. Are we really just “stuck” to have one or 2 kids because of our finances? Do I need to be realistic about our situation and just accept not having 4 or 5 kids (which is what Ryan and I would like)? Or do I need to trust God and know that he will take care of us and the little things? I’m having a hard time finding that balance. It scares the crap out of me.
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The best advice? Never ask anyone when they’re going to have children or how many they’d like to have. I’ve known too many couples facing fertility issues that despise that question.
“You will never have enough money to have kids.” Translation: Don’t put off having kids until you are completely settled, because you’ll never be convinced you are well off enough. At some point, you just have to do it.
Sometimes you do everything you can NOT to get pregnant and you still end up getting pregnant. You haven’t failed! Sometimes God knows us better than we know ourselves.
I can clearly remember thinking, “These children are too close together! I did NOT plan this! Not fair!” … only to be stricken with a terrible tumor and unable to have any more children at age 28.
Planning pregnancies is a very personal decision. I just want to give “permission” to rejoice even when pregnancies are unplanned.
not having any children – I don’t really feel qualified to answer your question. I think your mother-in-law is right on. You will be a great mom when the time comes – that is just so obvious and clear. Maybe that’s my advice – be patient – and when the time comes. know that you have all it takes within you to be an amazing mom! God bless you Rae.
Rae, this is a simple and great post! What beautiful advice to share. It is a very sensitive topic. While we’ve not been blessed with bio children yet, I heard what I consider to be very beautiful and reasonable advice (although not for ourselves necessarily at this point): You know you’re postponing for an unselfish reason when it pains you that you can’t bring another child into the world.