For my birthday this year, my friend gave me two DVD’s of the Duggar family (17 Kids and Counting and 18 Kids and Counting). Looking at the cover was overwhelming and I’m not sure if I will ever be able to name them all without looking at a guide! It amazes me how a family this size (currently having 19 kids and 2 grandkids) moves smoothly from day to day. Personally, I am looking forward to watching them and observing how they deal with certain situations. Sure, not everything will be covered in front of a camera, but there is still a lot to be learned.
Sadly, many people consider the parents of large families irresponsible. Sometime in the last hundred years, surpassing 2.3 kids and 1.7 dogs became foolish, as if less intelligent people chose to become parents instead of doing something important with their lives. Personally, I admire large families (if it is apparent that the kids are loved, well adjusted, and a priority in the home).
In cases where kids come as a result of carelessness, where they are not given the proper care, then my heart breaks. Innocent little ones need to be loved and taught, regardless of how many siblings are in the picture. Watching the Duggar family has given me more hope that large families can thrive without certain children being forgotten or made less of a priority than others. If parents consider children a blessing, and not a burden, large families can flourish.
It is interesting that the first commandment God ever gave was to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). He commanded it again when Noah was exiting the ark (Genesis 9:1, 7). He also told Jacob (Israel) to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 35:11). If God commanded it three times of His people, this seems like something very important to do! Even one of my professors, at the end of an undergraduate marriage and family class I took, told the ladies on the last day, “If you hear nothing else from this class, make babies for Jesus!” I think we should be careful to heed this advice to the best of our abilities.
Obviously, not everyone can have families as large as the Duggar’s family. For some, it is not a medical possibility to have that many children as it stresses the body too much. Some couples try for years and are blessed with just a few children, if any. God has a different plan for every family. For some, He will give the blessing and responsibility of a large family; whereas, for others, He will give the blessing and responsibility of a small family. What matters is not how many children you have, but how you view children: Are children always a blessing? Are they sometimes a blessing? Are they never a blessing?
There are plenty of people who have experienced a change of heart regarding children. There is something about the power of God’s Word that melts away our preconceived notions and fills us with truth. When making a decision about who to marry, it is crucial that both parties agree on their view of children and desired quantity. Some couples get married saying that they will never have kids and then one person has a change of heart. It is heartbreaking to want a child desperately and to have your spouse be the one keeping you from that desire.
So, search your heart. Pray specifically for God to speak to you regarding this area of your life. Do not marry someone unless the two of you have prayerfully and thoroughly considered your stance on parenthood and your desire to pursue it. Additionally, do not get married until discussing how you will respond to an unexpected pregnancy – or to infertility – should either of these scenarios materialize.
I have always believed that children are a blessing; additionally, the older I get, the more strongly I believe it. There were some guys I dated that did not share this belief with me. I could have been married to one of them and this issue may have never been resolved.
It never ceases to amaze me how many people get married without talking deeply about critically important topics such as children and the issues surrounding them. Initial physical attraction is a God-given dynamic, but new feelings fade (and it fades even more quickly when a couple is disillusioned by their immense differences). Take this special time of getting to know each other and ask the hard questions. Some answers may be hard to hear, but they will be exponentially harder to hear after marriage if they differ from your desire and your partner’s desire.
With what size family would you like to be blessed?