“Are You Done Yet?” In Defense of our 5th Child

This week my husband and I announced our big news: we’re expecting our 5th child in September.  “Really?”  is the most common reply.  Here are some of the other zingers we have heard:

“Do you hate money?”

“Are you done now?”

“Are you crazy?”

“Was this planned?”

“Don’t you know there are things you can do to prevent this?”

“Do they all have the same father?”

“You must be Catholic or Mormon.”

“Is the quiver full of arrows?”
Berchelmann-133
Critics of large families mention the burden that our children will be on society and the Earth.  We hear about the health care costs our children will generate and the size of our family carbon footprint.  Others simply express concern for my husband and me, that we will be too tired, have financial stress, or not have enough time for each other.

Here’s my question: why can’t we look at children as future contributors to society, not burdens on society?  My children are the best gift I have for society.  Children bring hope for the future and model unconditional love.  Have we forgotten?  It is the sign of a dying society when we see our children as burdens rather than beacons of hope, future innovators.

The National Center for Health Statistics says the over all birth rate in 2011 is the lowest in this country since 1920. As a college-educated Caucasian female, I am predicted to have 1.6 children per 2011 statistics.  America’s overall fertility rate is 1.96, which is below the replacement rate of 2.1. The replacement rate refers to the number of children each woman needs to have to maintain current population levels, or zero population growth.

We do not have an overpopulation problem in the United States, we have a low-birth-rate problem.  Experts predict that global population is also slowing.  This trend is likely to continue as contraception becomes increasing availability in the developing world.  When birth rates fall below replacement rates societies suffer.  The average age of the population increases, creating a top-heavy society with heavy health-care and resource needs.   Children are the answer to this problem—our future workers, innovators, and supporters.  Children are our hope and future, not our burden.

But I’m not having kids to re-populate the earth, I’m having kids because I love them.  Yes, I will have a few more years of diapers and crying babies at night, but the rewards are many.  Here are my favorites:

  • Children keep me young and joyful.  I have to turn my anxiety off and play pretend with my 4-year-old, I rest every few hours and breastfeed my baby, and I share my six-year-old’s delight in drawing a dream-house with fifteen stories.  They get me to eat home-made snow cones and play in the rain.  I play outside almost every day.  Do you?
  • Younger kids bring joy out of my older kids, no matter how grumpy they get.  My son can have a terrible attitude, but when his baby sister wants to play with him, he always smiles and obliges her.  And then I smile, too.
  • Life is never boring!  Our kids are each so unique, so different from the others.  And they keep growing and changing.  We never know what to expect.
  • I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.  I used to clean and polish away every nick in my wooden furniture and keep my bathroom spotless.  These days I figure a few marks in my furniture adds to their antique value.  I find fingerprints on my bathroom mirror endearing.
  • Parenthood makes me work hard.  Without kids, I’m sure I’d watch more TV, drink more wine, and become a more selfish individual.  With kids, I’m forced to think of others and avoid self-absorption.
  • Kids make me realize how ridiculous I can be.   One of my kids complains about dinner almost every night.  It’s really annoying.  Then I realize there are things I complain about too much, too.
  • There is nothing like parenthood to keep you humble.  Just when you think you have it all figured out, they throw you another curve ball.
  • I want less stuff.  I keep thinking, if we had fewer kids and more disposable income, what would I do with it?  Drive a fancier car, live in a bigger house?  I don’t want a fancier car and I Berchelmann-084certainly don’t want to clean or care for a bigger house. 

Some people worry that we won’t be able to give each of our kids the one-on-one attention that they need.  Because we homeschool , our kids get plenty of individual attention every day.

A new baby is perhaps the best gift you can give to your other children.  A 14 year-old from a family of five told me, “I can’t imagine not having siblings.  That would be my worst nightmare.  It would be lonely.”

My four year-old said it best, “Can we have as many kids as the Duggars?”

Umm… maybe not that many.

Kathleen Berchelmann, M.D. About Kathleen Berchelmann, M.D.

Kathleen M. Berchelmann, M.D., is a pediatrician at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, director of the St. Louis Children's Hospital Social Media Team, and co-founder of the ChildrensMD hospital physician blog. Her work has been featured in print and online publications including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Chicago Tribune, and TIME magazine. She is a frequent contributor to Fox2 News STL Moms. Kathleen and her husband are raising five children.

Follow Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann on Facebook: ChildrensMomDocs Twitter: @MomDocKathleen and connect with her on .

Comments

  1. Wow! People say those things? I know it shouldn’t surprise me, but it’s still shocking. My daughter (who is 8 so we will forgive her) often lacks tact and we’re trying to teach her to filter her thoughts. Maybe the right response to adults without filters is, “How many children did your parents have, because they didn’t quite master teaching you social graces.” I don’t know, but I think the only proper response to your news is “Congratulations!”

  2. SQUEAL! As the mother of five, I’m wishing you a big ole hearty Congratulations! Best wishes for a healthy pregnancy.

    I’ve heard many of the same comments from people — it’s just sad. I tend to be pretty snarky in my responses, while my husband just lets it roll.

  3. Christina Cross says:

    Kathleen,
    I completely agree with you! I get these questions all the time. Four keeps me busy enough….but if we were ever graced with another child I would welcome it with open arms! What a wonderful gift from God to our families and the world. Keep up the good work! Hope to see you soon! Congratulations again!!!!

  4. Congratulations on your pregnancy! Life is something to celebrate. Thank you for highlighting the truth about America’s under-population crisis. I was getting really tired of hearing the tired old zero-population arguments. Since over 40% of adults in the U.S. will die having had zero or one child, I’m doing my part to make up for it. Having a big family is a sacrifice and a blessing, just like anything else worth attempting. Loved the article!

  5. Kay Franks says:

    I have eight siblings and love being part of a big family. My mom also heard all those zingers including “You don’t LOOK like you’ve had nine kids”. She never knew what they meant by that but said we would be rich if she had a nickel every time she heard it. I think we are already rich by having a loving family. Congratulations!

    P.S. my mom looks amazing at 84 and I have a hard time keeping up with her so your first point is right…kids do keep you young!!!!!

  6. Thank you for this! My husband and I are expecting number 5 any day now (right now would be nice, in fact). We get a lot of stares and comments, many if which I could live without. I’ve had to resist the urge to meet snarky questions with snarky responses, but when someone pays me a compliment, I am very thankful. My homeschool group has been my source of the most support. I’m an only child – and I’m do proud of my large family!!! Congratulations on your Baby Cinco!

  7. Cheers to you! I remember when I was pregnant with my first set of twins, an antique dealer asked me what I did to pi$$ God off. Obviously, I didn’t buy anything from him. When I got pregnant with our second set of twins, I’m sure people thought we were crazy because we were so thrilled. I myself was an only child, and I can vouch that it was horribly, devastatingly lonely. Not to mention boring.

  8. Monica Aikman says:

    You had me until the end: ” “I can’t imagine not having siblings. That would be my worst nightmare. It would be lonely.”” I get that it’s a kid’s opinion, but good teachable moment about how only children aren’t actually sentenced to a life of bitter loneliness. Nor are adults who choose not to have kids. I was hoping that was the point. Acceptance. For everyone.

  9. Judy Berger says:

    I also have 5 children. With the exception of my youngest who is still in high school, my children are adults. Don’t let anyone take the bloom off your rose. It is a wonderful thing to have a big family. No matter what I have done in my work life, my biggest contribution to the world is raising my children to be happy and productive adults.

  10. We have four (medically, I needed to stop – all were c-sections and it was *ugly* in there). When I had my 4th, people said, “Do you realize you’ll be SIXTY when he starts college?” (glad you can do math!!) and “Oh, finally a boy!! Now you can stop!!!” (my first three were girls) Seriously?! And some of these were people in my church who *should* view children as a gift and a blessing!!! Congratulations to you!!!! Wishing you a happy, healthy pregnancy.

  11. Negative comments on the number of children a couple chooses to have is definitely not in the “polite conversation” category!

    I’ve noticed that people think that “too many” children is one more than they chose to have.

    Agreed…the only appropriate comment after this sort of announcement is always…Congratulations!!!

  12. Deb Fanning says:

    I got the same comments when I was expecting my 4th, 5th, and 6th child. I am an only child and often wished I had siblings! Yes, all 6 children are from the same father. My ex husband walked out when the youngest was 7 months old. He said that when the divorce was final, he was going to get a vasectomy and that any woman that marries is going to have to understand that he has 6 children and that is all he’ll ever have. He’s remarried and has two more. I am so glad that I had a large brood when I went through my very nasty divorce. I went back to college and got my teaching degree. My children were my incentive for becoming a teacher. I also got my Masters in Curriculum and instruction. I taught for 21 years in a public school and am now retired. I took early retirement because my youngest son Jason was killed in a car accident. He was 31. My adult children and in law children were a wonderful support during this terrible time as well as members of my church. And yet, a sibling would have been nice to go to in this terrible time. People do not realize that their children are a gift from God. I have been blessed many times over. As far as zero population, I have a family member who couldn’t have children that my children replace them. I could have had a couple more children and still had zero population. I now have 7 grandchildren: 5 boys and 2 girls (so far). Jason and his wife couldn’t have children which makes his death a little more painful. The way that my grandchildren are being raised is giving me hope for society in the future.

  13. Danielle says:

    Can I just say that this is how I feel! We’re having trouble having #4 and it breaks my heart, we asked for prayer at church and were promptly told by almost everyone to go on birth control. I love my children, they also long for more is siblings. God bless you! From one broken Christian.

  14. Kathleen's proud Mom says:

    I love all your blog posts–BUT this is the best!! Children are little miracles that never stop blowing your mind with gifts and they wear you to the ground until God picks you up. Both are true. I love the dents in the furniture, even the holes in the walls. I love all the comments to this blog. So beautiful. I love the comment from the only child about acceptance. It is all good–God is in His heaven.

    Fly from New York to San Francisco on a clear day. Look down. No population. Too many live in cities, don’t cultivate the ground and complain they have no jobs.

    Yeah!!! Grandchild #12

  15. Loved your article.
    I wrote about the same thing when we were expecting our fifth.
    5 must be the magic number!

  16. I totally agree, Kathleen!
    And yes, I have heard some of those comments myself, especially when I was expecting our twins after already having three girls.
    Because of that, the most common comment I have heard was “Are you trying for a boy?”.
    I was thrilled when I gave birth to my twin girls, making it 5 young ladies in our house!
    People still ask me if we’re gonna try for a boy!
    I say… if it’s not broken – don’t fix it! ;)
    As if there was something wrong with girls…. :/
    With age gaps between all my girls some can’t believe they’re all from the same father…. they figure I had to have remarried…
    Some of my pregnancies were planned (by us), some were not, but they all were planned by God and they’ve been such a blessing!
    The twins are giving me two oldest girls (19 and 15) the best experience they could ask in preparation for when they become mothers.
    As for finances, God takes care of that too. We’ve been blessed tangibly far more after having the twins than ever before!
    Congratulations and all the best to your family!

  17. The one complaint I’d have about this article is about the attitude. The author is condescending toward the childless (or child-minimal) of being “selfish” and having self-absorbed behavior, somehow being a lesser person for not playing outside every day, not being humble, and supposedly only caring about having a nice house. Then, in the last two sentences of the article, the author says something snarky about having as many kids as the Duggars. So this author has a line, apparently, in the number of children to have… but the author is the only person allowed to set it.

  18. Lauren Smith says:

    I want to preface my comment with saying first that this is a Catholic perspective. Secondly, I’m going to make some comments that aren’t directed at the author directly but addressing things I’ve experienced with other people. I realize that some of the points I’ll be arguing are not points that the author was trying to make.

    So…I think the problem exists at both ends of the spectrum. Some people are opposed to large families, but I think people who DO have large families can also make statements that make people who have smaller families feel like they aren’t doing enough.

    I have no problem with large families, provided the parents are actually taking care of their children. I know several large families. I know a family with 10 children. I know a family with 7 children. I know another family of 6 kids. While I am glad that people are open to life, I do see some problems within these families, some of them serious.

    One of the mothers almost died with her last child; she had to have surgery and can no longer have children. One of the other mothers quickly gave up breastfeeding her latest baby because, according to her, she couldn’t take care of the needs of her other children and breastfeed. This mother also has to work part time to support her family. One of the other families has SERIOUS issues going on, which I will not go into but suffice it to say that the safety and well-being of the children are a matter of concern, and they keep having more and more children and putting them in a bad situation. They cannot financially support their children’s basic needs either. Of course this goes on in families big or small.

    While couples have to make the best of every situation, and some situations arise from bad choices, I think sometimes parents try to be open to life and forgot the part about being responsible parents, and forget their obligations and duties owed to their children. Couples don’t have serious discussions each month about bringing a new life into the world or they do not want to practice abstinence for selfish reasons.

    There is a reason that the Church allows natural family planning for serious reasons. Couples are not required to have as many children as possible. I don’t think that’s what you were trying to say, just making a point. I think many young Catholics are uneducated about natural family planning and/or misinformed about the Church’s teachings regarding this, or have an early return of fertility because they fail to breastfeed (or only partially breastfeed), and put themselves in situations that are less than ideal. They may have chosen otherwise had they been better informed.

    Every family is different, and what every family can handle varies. Some people can have several children, meet all their needs, and handle it well. But I do think it is very possible (and happens more than Catholics would like to admit) that parents over-burden themselves to a point where children’s needs go unmet because they simply cannot meet them. This can create problems that in turn can negatively affect the children’s spiritual life and overall well-being.
    I strongly feel that in nearly all situations mothers should be available to their children in their early years, partly for being available to breastfeed. If having another child means you wouldn’t be able to nurse your baby, or you would have to go back to work, etc—it’s best to abstain at that time IMO.

    Another area of concern for large families, to me, is that I see a lot of parents using their older children to help out with smaller children, especially babies. I want to stress that I’m not opposed to children helping out in the family, in fact I think it is a good thing. However, I see it being abused. An example would be older siblings feeding babies bottles when that feeding time is designed by God to be bonding time with Mom, not other people (even Dad or older siblings). I also sometimes see older siblings who do more work than the parents and the oldest child actually becomes the parent in a sense to the younger children. Or the older child is put in a situation in which they are not equipped to handle that could pose a serious problem if something serious happened, or at the very least is unfair to the child.

    I think the article is absolutely correct on many levels. Children shouldn’t be viewed as a burden, and children can be a great blessing, including large families. Parents are often selfish and just don’t want to do the hard work, which is wrong. But I think people need to be careful in putting pressure on others to have more children, especially close together, when it’s not in their best interest to do so.

    I am repeatedly asked when I am going to have another child by people in the family; sometimes within weeks after I’ve given birth (I currently have two children). Seriously. This happened before we had kids, after my first child, and after my second. I’ve been told I can’t have an only child, that I should get pregnant within a couple months after having a baby, and that it’s “not right” to have a small family. I also have to (awkwardly) explain to the person that I haven’t started ovulating since my last birth due to ecological breastfeed (which I practice to meet my children’s needs- not to intentionally space babies). It seems like larger families can sometimes make it a competition and make people with smaller families feel as if they are doing something wrong.

    My two children are spaced 2.5 years apart and if I had to do over again it would have been longer because it was too overwhelming for me and I know that my oldest son sacrificed because of it. I would like both my children to be weaned (still nursing them both), not waking up at night for night feedings (the baby still regularly wakes up at night, and oldest still does at times), and the children out of our bed, before having another. I will be homeschooling as well, so I would like to avoid pregnancy for at least a few years until those things happen and I feel I could cope well. My husband was also laid off for a time after our first son was born and we’ve struggled financially While the young kids don’t cost much (obviously breastfeeding saves money and we use EC/cloth diapers) the children will be eating more solid food and needing more things (especially with homeschooling) that will be costly, even if we aren’t extravagant and materialistic. It would not be a good time to add another baby into the mix (even if I could, which is unlikely now because I’m still in amenorrhea). Nursing three children (including a baby that would want to nurse probably every 20 minutes based on my last two children) and one that would need to be taken potty frequently, and toddlers making messes while I try to homeschool and keep the house at an acceptable level of dirtiness and cook several meals a day….I honestly don’t think I could do it without seriously sacrificing someone’s needs. If I spaced my babies in a natural way (based on traditional cultures who usually have children about 3-4 years apart) I would probably have about 5 children at my max before I started to reach the end of my child bearing years. I can’t imagine having 5 but it’s possible. We will accept the children as they come. Before I got married I didn’t want any children. Now, with my two, I can’t imagine my life without them and they have definitely made me a better person. Although I do wish they were spaced father apart but a brief nursing strike allowed my body to get pregnant (I was uneducated and thought he was weaning fully at the time or I would have abstained).

    At any rate, I think it’s great when people handle large families well and they are definitely helping our society for sure. I just wanted to offer another perspective on the issue that while people shouldn’t tell others to stop having children, they also shouldn’t be pushing people to have more children either.

  19. First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! What a blessing, another little precious life to raise for the Lord, and to love.
    Second, people are self-absorbed and cruel. We have three children, two of whom we adopted after 12 miscarriages and the death of our oldest child. We have recently stepped forward to adopt again, and it is amazing how many people not only think we are crazy, but say similar hurtful and cruel things.
    I completely agree with you. My children keep my young, full of laughter and fun (and cause me to drink a lot of coffee, but I digress).
    Blessings to you, and may this pregnancy be full of joy and peace knowing you are doing what you are in agreement with your husband about.
    ~Heather Estey
    The Welcoming House Blog

  20. I have 2 kids, a boy and a girl, and I comments about how we have to be done since we have one of each! It annoys me so I cant imagine how aggravating that must get for you guys with large families. IMO if you can afford to house, clothe, feed and have the energy for 20 kids then get to baby making! ;)

  21. To Danielle – find a church family who will love and support you. Our 5th child was born with a congenital heart and Down syndrome. He is such a blessing and our church family wrapped their arms around us and totally supported this sweet #5 in our family. This was exactly what we needed after his diagnosis. A church should be supportive and support Biblical values.

  22. I am glad for your family! Your article brings up all the right points. A baby brings so much love to the whole family! We had a surprise 5 th baby. I often think what we would have missed if she did not join our family. I have grouchy tween, but with our little surprise he is a new person. Your family sounds great! You will send out into the world five amazing people! We did not hear many
    negative comments, because we are Mormon and live in Utah! LOL! You would fit right in here. There are a lot of large families that home school. Enjoy your new baby the nasarer’s don’t know what they are missing!

  23. Well said. I too am the father of eight kids. One is a special needs child. I feel pity for those who view children as a burden rather than a blessing. I’m working on developing a web space for big happy families to share in their joys, trials, tips and fun. I’ll add you to the contributor list if you want.

  24. As a mom of 5 plus 2 bonus children, the comments we get are a variety of nice & rude. When we were expecting our 5th, the biggest comment was “is this it now?” and “he needs a V!” “I don’t know how you do it! But, this is your last right?” Well, maybe it is. That would make many happy. But our kids are not a burden & we happen to love children. What I think about more? 7 children is “a lot” but 8, now 8 would be just
    c r a z y!! It wouldn’t be..in fact, it would be great to even out our #. Let them stare & wonder..not everyone wants several & some can’t have more than one! You never know!! So be kind to the small families too, they may long to have a handful & ask us questions but only because they do genuinely have an interest–not to mock & belittle.

  25. Sr Rachel Benjamin says:

    Thank you.

  26. My brother and his wife have seven children. I remember hearing all those witty (clueless, rude, stupid) zingers back then. I never thought I’d hear them, but around the time my husband and I had our 4th child, we too got to experience how unbelievably crass and nosy people could be.

    My children are my favorite people to spend time with and talk to. I’m shocked when a parent says (often in front of their kids) that they could never homeschool because they couldn’t stand to be with their kids all day. Yikes.

  27. My daughter asked if we could be like the Duggars once. I was 38 and our 3rd was not yet a year old! I told her that my belly would not make it to baby #19 ( that’s how many they had at the time)!

    My answer to people when they ask is “I don’t know the Lord’s plans, but I am good with whatever He thinks is best.”

  28. Congratulations on your coming baby!! I am green with envy. I wish so much I could have more but it doesn’t seem to be in Gods plan for us. I will never understand why anyone ever feels it is in any way appropriate to give any commentary about someone else’s reproduction. Be it a small family or a large family, it’s really not anyone’s business but the people caring for their children. I admire the families in our Catholic community where the average family is 8 kids. Some as many as 16 and a few like me with just 3. We as a society feel entirely too free to offer opinions where they really aren’t welcome or appropriate. A husband and wife’s childbearing should be held with sacred respect and not burdened with opinions from others. After I had my daughter I was shocked t the number of people who felt nothing wrong when asking me pointedly with suggestion that I was “done” now with a boy and a girl. I’m not a pot roast, and certainly don’t choose to be done. We now have two boys and a girl and all 3 of our children long for another sibling as much as I long for another baby. We shouldn’t mind others business. We should just worry about our own.

  29. Great post! And some great comments too. Thank you Lauren for your thoughts.

    My #7 is two weeks old. I just turned 30 (yesterday), and I have no idea if we’re done or not. I love my children and have been blessed to be surrounded by wonderful people who support me and my husband and our family. We have wonderful friends who have 5, 6, 8, 10, even 12 children, and we also have wonderful friends who have 1, 2, 3, or even no children. Family size does not determine who is “worthy” to be our friends, and child-spacing is a very individual thing. I understand when people feel overwhelmed with one or two children (that’s how I felt with only 2!), and I understand when some families feel they need to stop with a smaller family (a best friend from high school had only one younger sister, but they were SUPER close friends, and my favorite aunt & uncle had three children that were all my favorite cousins), I just hope that most people would support us in OUR decision to have a larger family, and not question us. Or at the very least, have some common sense not to stick their nose where it doesn’t belong.

    (And for the record… Yes, they are all mine (and my husband’s). Yes, I have my hands full. Yes, I know what causes it. No, I don’t want to get rid of any of them. And I don’t know if we will be blessed with more.)

  30. Sandra Wosk says:

    I am sorry but I am one of those people that feel that in this day and unsafe age we should not be having so many children. Why are we not adopting those that do not have a home instead of having them ourselves? To me that is selfish. Thousands are homeless sitting in ugly places with ugly guardians yet others are having more children? That mind set needs to change or someone needs to be hit on the head and realize that it is great to have big families but MOST can not afford them and only have them for the money they get with taxes etc. Plus there are just more disadvantaged kids in foster care because lots of these so called big families lose those kids because they can’t afford to look after them. So into care they go.. Kids might be miracles to some but to others they are not. Neither is looking after them or trying to find food for them. Why should two kids go without while you have three and four.. Don’t tell me that they all get equal. Values change the more kids you have.. We can not as a people look after those we have, why on earth would you want to cause more stress to the land, water and landfills? Don’t tell me you don’t because diapers and food cans and jars fill up landfills pretty quickly. I feel sorry for all those forgotten kids.

  31. Kristin C says:

    I completely agree with and love this article…. as long as parents can financially support their children completely (and are not depending on the government in ANY way to help – because that means stealing money from tax payers to pay for their family and this is unChristian to do), as long as both parents are emotionally and physically healthy to support the children’s needs and can do so without suffering depression, as long as each child is getting their needs met (physically, emotionally, nutritionally, educationally, etc.). I believe the Duggars are a fine example of getting it right. As Christians we should evaluate whether or not we can properly provide for our children. God calls for us to be good stewards, be responsible, to count the cost of all of our decisions. The notion of “we will allow God to grow our family” to me is absurd. God allows many people to continue to breed that simply shouldn’t and are terrible parents. This world is full of sin and God allows us to make sinful choices. As Christians, God expects us to always always count the cost. Sometimes that means putting a limit on the number of children we can care for. For Bryan and I, 3 is enough. I home school and we have one income. Because Bryan has a job and pays enormous amounts of taxes to help support people who don’t do those things, our family size must be limited. I am very happy for the 3 we have adopted. I would love to adopt more. I know that I can only properly handle 3 little kids at once. I appreciate that even though some times I want more, Bryan uses wisdom to say it would not be good for our family to expand because of X, Y, & Z. In the future, when our little ones are grown and more able to meet a lot of their own needs, that may change. Sorry for the long comment but I felt that sometimes limiting the number of children seems like one is not having enough faith in God and someone having LOTS of kids seems more holy. In all things, we must use good judgement for our own circumstances.

  32. Eileen DiGiacomo says:

    I am a mother of 2. Using birth control that I have to confess about because I am a devout catholic.

    I am a dental hygienist for an orthdox community. Families average 4-8. children. I always ask how many and say, “congrats, I don’t know how you do it and stay looking so young” They have a pure joy having such a big family. It is quite beautiful.

  33. When we got pregnant with our fourth, people were questioning our sanity, lol. sadly some people even told us we were stupid. I understand that some don’t care to have a large family or no children at all. I enjoy being a mom, I agree with everything in the article. raising a family definitely keeps you more grounded and focused on what life is all about and it’s not expensive things or luxurious vacations. while those things are nice, they come and go..money and things are fleeting. The love of your family members is infinite.

  34. Dr. Berchelmann, more power to you and your husband. You are obviously very able and competent, and I imagine your husband is as well. You’re providing for your children. No one else is responsible for their well-being, safety and security. It is no one’s business how many children you all choose to have.

    Congratulations on Baby #5! I am certain all of your children have been a blessing to you! I only planned on 2 kids, but God chose fit to give me twins for my last pregnancy, so I have 3. They’re very close in age, but you’re absolutely right–they keep me young! :D

  35. I’d like to add a “zinger” to your list above:

    Have you considered the costs others must bear because you keep having more kids in a world of limited resources?

    Most humans are not net “contributors.” Most are net consumers by a longshot.

  36. I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for such a wonderfully written and true article. Keep up the good work and congratulations on your blessing.

  37. Frau Rosen says:

    To all those who say an only child is lonely or miserable or whatever—you’re stereotyping as much as people who tell you that you have too many children and what that means their lives will be like. Even if being a sad only child was YOUR experience, it doesn’t mean every only child is that way. I had a sibling who beat the crap out of me, teased me mercilessly and generally made my life a living hell. Yet I try to keep my own personal experience away from judging what other people do. That said, for ethical, health and financial reasons, we only have one child. And he’s bright, social, kind and not at all lonely or miserable. He’s HAPPY to be an only child. He’s also a homeschooler. I just read your reasons for homeschooling the other day—-do you want to spread stereotypes about only children the way other people spread stereotypes about homeschoolers? Lastly, if you need or want any more children, why not adopt? There are thousands if not millions of children in the US who truly are miserable without families of their own. All of you who want large families and pride yourself on having them, why did you need to have so many biological children instead of adopting? What are you trying to prove?

  38. Excellent article and lots of “thinkers.” I love it when families get past the 2 or 3 and “get big.” Why not??

  39. Rachel C says:

    @Sandra Wosk… How many children have you adopted? I am guessing none. It sure is easy though to lecture others about adoption isnt it. I find it very interesting that some people are very quick to say “why don’t you just adopt instead of having more children” when those people have not adopted either. Family planning should be completely between a couple… It is NO ONE else’s business how a couple bring their children to their family. Telling someone they should adopt is as rude as telling somebody who they should or should not marry. By the way my first two were adopted (Best thing I ever did!… But I’m not presumptuous enough to think it is for everyone.) and I am currently expecting our fourth. Loved this post!!!

  40. Rachel C says:

    @Frau Rosen, How many children have you adopted? I’m assuming at least a few since you feel it is your place to tell other people how to build their families.

    P.S. I LOVE adoption… But I hate that argument. People should be allowed to build their family how they want to… Adoption is amazing, but it certainly isn’t for everyone, and I would never shame someone who decided to have biological children instead of adopting. BTW half of my children are adopted.

  41. The article was great! My wife and I have 5 as well (all girls) and we have heard each and every comment and then some. We simply think it is rude and obnoxious for anyone to judge how many kids we have as it is none of their business. Unfortunately, I was dumb enough to get the “V” and now we cannot have anymore. I love my girls to death and we want more. I wish i could get a reversal so we could have 5 more! :) Any suggestions?!

  42. I know I’ve said my share of dumb things in my life and afterword thought how stupid I must have sounded. Just last week I asked an obviously pregnant mom picking up her son at preschool if the trail of 3 boys behind her were all hers to which she responded “Yes and this one’s a boy too” pointing at her belly. My response was “oh my gosh!” not because I was being judgmental but because I was thinking I can hardly handle two – how do you do it? So please forgive us as we are only human.

  43. I love this piece….i am a working mother of 4 who would have another baby in a second…we chose to stop at 4 because we are both approaching the mid 40 mark…our kids are 1,4,7,and 10…and yes, i heard all the comments too!! As well as , “are you going to quit working?”…well, no..i am a doctor and love what i do…and I love my kids more than life itself…….

  44. I am saddened that you chose to end an essay about acceptance with such a judgmental statement. For you, a statement like this: “A new baby is perhaps the best gift you can give to your other children. A 14 year-old from a family of five told me, “I can’t imagine not having siblings. That would be my worst nightmare. It would be lonely.” is another way to prove your point. But for those of us who choose (or have no choice) to have one child, it’s yet another criticism of our family.

    Just as you endure endless criticism about your family, so do families with just one child. I was totally on board with your arguments until you resorted to the “many are so much better than just one” rationale. When you make statements like that, you are just as bad as the people who make negative statements about your family.

    The reality is that there is no way to compare my little family with yours. Our lives are totally different and really, there’s simply no reason to judge or compare. When making statements about family size, please be mindful of the feelings of ALL families.

  45. Danielle H says:

    Thank you for this article. My husband and I have 3 boys ages 2, 3, and 5, and baby #4 is on the way. I am 15 weeks and we have held off on telling everyone so I didn’t have to listen to everyone’s rude comments. We are very excited and very in love with our big family.
    As for all the people that say ” if you want a big family then you should adopt”, I think adoption is great. I was adopted and am thankful, but one thing I always wanted is something that was apart of me, and I always wanted my own children. I do not feel that I should refrain from having children because there are children in the system. I do hope to adopt a few after our toddlers bigger.
    Thank you for this article and congratulations baby on #5 .

  46. Lauren Smith says:

    I think Kristen C’s comment expresses what I was trying to say…in a better way.

    People leave it up to God how many children to have instead of cooperating with God and really thinking, discussing, planning, and praying about what God wills for them to do. They fail to take any responsibility in!

    While all life is valuable, it is not God’s will for a child to be born, just because a child is born. Children are born out of wedlock all the time, or in other situations. God certainly doesn’t want anyone to sin (fornicate) to make a child. So not all children born are “God’s plan”, but rather consequences of our own actions.

    Another point is that while God will take care of us, we are also not supposed to test God. If we are at our limit (emotionally, financially- whatever), it’s wrong to test God to see if he will continue carrying for our family.

    I also agree with whoever said that government assistance can be stealing. We have used government assistance in the past when my husband was laid off. It was so easy to continue getting “free money” but we cut ourselves off and made it work so we weren’t becoming dependent. Yes, there are some situations in which help is necessary because of unforeseen circumstances (natural disaster, emergencies, etc) but if you’re already at the breaking point you have to use caution and refrain from bringing another life into the world. Of all the larger families I know, all of them have had to be on government assistance. One family mismanages their money and uses government assistance while they buy luxury items for themselves and continue to live off the government and continue having more children when they can’t provide for their basic needs themselves. I do consider this stealing.

  47. I’ve been following the comments today and have noticed a couple things. One, several comments imply or directly assert that having several children is selfish. I think it is the greatest act of selflessness. It could be said that it is selfish to have no kids or only a couple kids, because you may have to sacrifice more time and energy in rearing the children.

    Second, there are some comments about how this article is somehow coming down on small families. What an amazing stretch of the mind to assume that people with large families somehow think less of people with small families. I hope the readers are mature enough to know that large families understand that there are happy small families too and when a 14 year old boy can’t imagine a smaller family that it doesn’t mean they were thinking about you and your small family. This article isn’t about you so don’t make it about you. Not everything is about you.

    Third, the world is far from overpopulation. Not even close. I have heard this argument for 40 years and there are fewer people dying of starvation now than ever before.

    Fourth, adoption. Great! Please adopt children and help them have fulfilling and happy lives. I don’t agree with the position that people should only adopt and not have children of their own blood because there are children to adopt. I would rather put forth the position and promote to society a responsibility to rear the children that you bear but if you are unable then others should be allowed to help and assist in that responsibility.

    Lastly, I don’t buy the limited resources argument. I thought that there was only so much love I had to give and what amount of happiness could I possibly gain by having more children? This was naive. There isn’t a limited amount of happiness and joy. It compounds, it doesn’t divide. I also have found that it doesn’t take large amounts of money to raise children. It takes parents that prudent and provident to raise children, whether it is one or 10.

  48. If my parents had stopped at four, I wouldn’t be here writing you this comment.

  49. Beautifully said. I’m the oldest of 11, so I saw these kinds of comments to my mom all of the time. I get them now too! It’s just funny to me because I don’t think of 4 kids as a big family. My oldest is 5 and he thinks our family is small, lol. Yes, I’m a Mormon, but it’s all still applicable. Even Mormons aren’t having as big of families as we used to.

  50. Love this! We have triplets who are almost 5 and a 2 year old. I was still pregnant with the triplets when people started saying things like “Oh you’re done now right?” or “Great 2 girls and a boy, done in one shot.” When our 4th arrived, another boy, we got the “You have 2 and 2, perfect, you are done now right?” I would love to have a 5th…and hope to. So glad I’m not the only one who loves a big family and sees it as the biggest and best blessing of my entire life.

  51. Kimberly Olson says:

    Your writing is beautiful, as are your sentiments. I love children, too. My 3 and everyone else’s.

    I was ready to embrace your ideas, but you lost me early on in them. The United States is not a planet by itself. What happens here affects the rest of the globe and vice versa; Your using “we don’t have an overpopulation problem in the United States” is selfish and short sighted.

    If you love children, that is wonderful. How about adopting some that other people have given birth to but were not capable of caring for? Maybe you could take on some unwanted children born because protesters outside Planned Parenthood guilted the mother into not having an abortion, but it turns out the mama simply doesn’t have the resources or capacity for parenting? Maybe you could consider giving a home to children of parents who are poor, uneducated, and have no access to birth control or health care? How about being a social worker to help those children born with disabilities get services they need? How about teaching the children who are already here because their parents are too busy?

    It is hard to believe you cannot understand that people are not celebratory for your news of bringing more babies into the world. If you just want to have more children, it’s okay to say it is because you are selfish. We have no shortage of that in the United States, and from what you wrote of responses from people you care about it sounds like no one would deny you that.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Thank goodness the population is decreasing. If all societies were like America, we would need FOUR earths to provide enough resources. While you may be an excellent parent, there are many families who do not spend enough time nurturing their children. They also clearly do not have the resources and rely on government welfare. Where I live, I am constantly surrounded by it. Tt’s simply unethical. There are scores of children in foster homes who live in poverty because no one loves them. There are also many abused and impoverished children in third world countries who are dying of starvation and illness caused by poor sanitation. I have admiration for those selfless individuals who realized adopting five children would still create the perfect, happy family.

  53. I just came across your post on a friend’s fb page. I have four and I feel I have to defend number three and four. I wish I could have more, but my pregnancies are too difficult. My husband and I want to adopt a sibling pair or set once our one year old is older. When it comes up, many people think we are crazy but God has given us a heart for older children waiting to be adopted. If it is His will, he will accomplish it! God bless you and may He keep this little one safe, healthy, and growing inside you!

  54. I’m one of 7 kids, and we heard a lot of those comments. But man, I loved growing up in a large family. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My mom homeschooled too, so my siblings and I we, and are still, very close, and our mom knew us better than anyone.

    There’s just nothing like a large family. There’s always someone to do things with, someone always wants to play, it’s really hard to be lonely. Now I’m looking forward to everyone having their own children so my kids can have lots of cousins to play with. I think everyone should get to experience a big family. It’s a blessing.

  55. Jennifer Fraser says:

    Thank you for writing this! We found out we are expecting baby #5 and yes, “Really?!” has been the top response when we tell people we are expecting. My ex-doctor came in after giving me a pregnancy test, announced it was positive and asked how many children this will be for us. When I told her this is our fifth child her response was, “Have you heard of tubal ligation?” Yeah, so she is no longer my doctor!

    At my son’s insistence I played a April Fool’s joke on my hubby yesterday and told him we are having twins. People online thought that was such a mean joke – to tell someone expecting their 5th child that it was twins. They were right, but only because he was disappointed to find out it was only a prank! I love that man!

  56. This is very timely! My husband and I just announced on Easter that we’re expecting our fifth child in October, and we received many of the same responses.

  57. Melissa S. says:

    CONGRATS! As a mother of 7 myself, I’ve heard all those things. But I remember a mother of 8 once telling me (her children were all adult children at the time), “The best thing you can do for you child is give him a sibling”…..or siblings. Kids learn so many things from each other and we as parents learn even MORE from them.
    congrats again.

  58. Denise Karres says:

    As the mother of 6 daughters, I say: “Congratulations!” My youngest is a junior in college and we have started the grandparent role (all boys so far). I would not trade a day of raising them. We homeschooled as well and the girls learned so many things about life just by living with their sisters through the years.
    Because we had so many we had to adjust entertainment to things we could do as a family – movie and popcorn at home, Friday Family Fun Night (highly recommend you do something similar) – we had neighbor kids who wanted to come over because “you always have so much fun!” Hiking day trips, picnic lunches at the park – all sorts of ways to enjoy each other and have fun without spending a lot of money.
    Good luck!

  59. I stopped with two.
    Because that was what my husband I wanted. It worked for us. It was *our* decision, just like someone who has six or eight or four or whatever. Since we know what causes pregnancy, people are certainly free to not have babies, too. Geez.

    I don’t understand people’s need to discuss your decision to have another baby. What do they expect to happen? For you to say something like, “Oh gosh, I never thought about ______! If I HAD, of course I would never have another one!! THANK YOU for your advice!! I am SO GLAD we had this discussion!!!!”
    @@

    Of course, no matter what decisions you make in raising your family there are always people who will not like it. Raised eyebrows are common with extended nursing, co sleeping, homeschooling… or not nursing, cribs, public education, private education, art classes, no art classes, sports, music… whatever.

    Some of them are tactless imbeciles.
    The world is full of them, unfortunately. :)

  60. we have nine and yes, we heard those same comments. All of my children have bachelor’s, masters and doctorates except for those who are still in the process. All home educated pre college. My Husband often comments about all the children who never made it to birth, could have ran for presidency or have been the geniuses
    of our day, but they were denied life.

  61. We have two children. 1 in Heaven and 1 on earth. We hear all the time when are you having more? Why just 1? Then we tell our sad tale about our daughter who passed in utero and get the sad looks or stupid comments.

    1 or 100 children people are always going to judge. Good for you for speaking honestly about this!

  62. Mark, thank you for your thoughts. A FB friend shared this post.

    I agree that how many children a couple have is no one else’s business. My question is for you, Mark, because you mentioned having 1 special needs child. So does my family (my parents, that is). But I know of some families with MORE than one special needs child. What if there are as many as 3 (and I am not referring to ADHD or something like that–I mean the children will never live on their own)? I struggle greatly with this thought. On the one hand, I MUST believe, per Scripture, that God creates all life, actively, in the womb. On the other hand, it seems extremely irresponsible, when you already have special needs children and your biological clock is working against you, to continue having children until you have 3-4 special needs children. One reason for this is that they will almost inevitably be in homes when you can’t care for them anymore, perhaps godless ones. Another reason is the immense pressure this places on siblings, particularly if you DON’T want the special needs children in homes. (I am writing as the sibling of someone who has SEVERE behavior issues, sometimes violence, so with a sweet, compliant person, it could be different.)

    Please understand, this is not a comment on your situation; I am questioning the situations of those who have reason to believe that their future children will continue to be special-needs (i.e., already having 2, mom’s age, etc.), and they still practice no family planning. It is hard for me to not wonder intensely about this since I know first hand how very difficult it is.

    Thank you so much.

  63. Patrick says:

    I enjoyed the article and am intrigued by the comments, so many of which describe experiences similar to mine. I am the proud father of three children, and was shocked by the comments we received when my wife became pregnant with our third. Many has to do with gender. We had a girl and a boy, and at least six people asked me ‘why a third? You already have one of each!” I kept wondering ‘did I miss the memo explaining about gender controlling the number of children I should have?’ Even my wife’s parents criticized us, complaining that we were reckless and too “unsettled” to have another child. I will never forget my father-in-law asking/scolding me “Don’t you know that your actions affect other people?” He’s the father if three who has never paid any of my bills. Not one. I come from a family of six and always laugh when people exclaim “Three kids?!? How do you afford it?!” The point being that society has a very skewed perception about family size, population issues and privacy. Oh, and we heard from many couples who were envious, who wished they had not stopped after two. One of my older neighbors said very poignantly that he and his wife thought they were being ‘prudent’ when they stopped after two children. Now he’s 60 and says that they both regret it and wish they could do it all over again so they could have more children. I think of that all the time.

    We stopped at three because we married a bit late and my wife couldn’t have any more after our third. God was our family planner, and I thank Him every day for our marriage and our children. The negative @opinions” of others, often delivered by those who have no children if their own, don’t matter. Each couple needs to make their own decisions and live with the consequences, good or bad.

    One more thing: I worry about what our children hear regarding this issue. When she was @ 13, my oldest child, a girl, complained that she’d have her own room and that we’d have more money if only we didn’t have a third child. I gently pointed out that she was correct: that if we’d waited awhile and skipped having her in favor of out two younger children, we would certainly have more money. I will never forget the look on her face when I said that, or her reply, which was “I might have to rethink about this.”

    I am very happy with our family, but would have loved to have more! Cheers!

    Thanks again for the article.

  64. My husband and I originally wanted 5 kids, but we have two living children. I had a miscarriage, and I suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum with both full-term pregnancies. We would love to have more kids if the medical issues didn’t exist.

  65. Melissa Avey says:

    “It is the sign of a dying society when we see our children as burdens rather than beacons of hope, future innovators.”

  66. I regret not having more (we only had 4.) I would add another to your list: Children keep innocence and gentleness in the world. This was perfectly illustrated by the movie Children of Men.

  67. I find it interesting that the first commenter thought that just because you can have babies and raise them well and responsibly, you shouldn’t. You should adopt foreign babies instead. Um…okay. You should endure the trials, heartache, and expense of that process, when your body is functioning the way nature intended and can reproduce and expand your family on your own. My wife and I have 6 – 5 of them adopted. We would have not adopted if we didn’t have to. I am glad we did and that we have the kids we do. I agree with commenter #1 if adoption is the path you are choosing to grow your family. But don’t criticize someone for choosing the obvious method…

  68. I would love to have more children. We have 3 here and 1 in heaven. When I was younger, I didn’t think I wanted any kids. Now, I can’t imagine not being a mom, even on the most difficult days. I wholeheartedly believe every child is a blessing.

    My favorite response from a family who have 10 children when asked “don’t you know what is causing this?…” “we sure do and clearly we enjoy it!” That will make a jaw drop or two… LOL.

    Enjoy every blessing God has given you.

  69. As parents of 8, you’re preaching to the choir. Bless you and your family.

  70. For all the population control people out there: children are our greatest resource. In fact, economies are in trouble now partly because we are not producing that valuable resource to replace ourselves. Do the research. Your assertions that having children is selfish and detracts from society is unfounded and a personal bias on your part.

  71. Sharon Hader says:

    Congratulations Kathleen!!! What a wonderful blessing to have so many children. I also am a mom of five, they are ages 13-28 now. We home schooled for 13 years. What a great time we had playing and growing together all of those home schooled years. I think because of our large family my kids are very sensitive to others feelings, get along great with others outside their own age group, and the list of positive things goes on and on. Have fun.

  72. Bobbette M. Davis says:

    +JMJ+
    Thank you for saying “YES” to life and to CHRIST who is the Author of Life!!! I love big families. My husband and I were only blessed with one. We were so very thankful for our beautiful baby boy who is now 23 and is a United States Marine.

  73. Qtpies7 says:

    I have 7, and would have loved to have more! My kids love their siblings and are close as they grow up and move out of the house. I came from a large family, and I wouldn’t deprive my kids of that for the world! I just came up with funny responses to people’s ridiculous questions. “Don’t you know what causes that?” My husband responds “Yes, but we just LOOOOOVE pizza!” and I respond “Yes, and we’re VERY good at it!” That shuts them up. :)

  74. Thanks for posting! We just had our 7th and feel so blessed. You make some wonderful points in your post and after reading this I realized that sometimes I subconsciously let all of the comments people make start to drag me down. I will encourage myself and others to be faithful in the future, not listening to what the world says but doing what is honorable. And some of these comments are silliness, yes we parents of big families are also fans of adoption, actually we are MORE likely to adopt. No the earth is FAR from being overpopulated -the entire world population could stand within the city limits of Jacksonville,FL- do the research(I’m not saying that people aren’t starving and short on resources but population is not the cause). And also no responsible parent is advocating that every single mother on welfare go and have eleven kids, it’s not even close to being the same situation as the author of this blog so there is no point in bringing it up! Thanks!

  75. We just had our fourth. Heard these comments after our second, even from family. Part of the reason that we didn’t announce our fourth till about 4 months- I didn’t know how I could take all the negative comments. We have two boys and two girls and still hear so are you done. I really want to say no. I don’t feel like our family is complete, but certainly don’t want to say anything to my mother as she us one who makes these comments too. (I am the fourth of five)

  76. I am one of six. I love being part of a big family. I love my siblings. I want my kids to have the same lifelong support group and friends that I have. Also having more kids means I get more time to cuddle babies. Kids don’t need fancy trips to Disney and going out for supper to have a happy childhood. I had fun playing with whatever I could find.

  77. Heard the EXACT same comments, plus “is this congratulations or condolences” when we announced our 6th, (when I was 42 and the “baby” just started kindergarten). Jenny (now 19) is THE most amazing girl ever!! I can’t imagine what life would be without her. It was a circus with 6 kids in 6 different schools, etc.

    Now that the kids are grown they LOVE being together!! Jenny disliked being 5 years removed from the next sibling and is fiercely devoted to her siblings.

    I appreciate the comments on adopting “unwanted” children – goodness knows there are way too many of them. I don’t know how the birthrate of children born to stable 2 parent families compares to the birthrate of children born to single moms in unstable situations, but I AM sure every this world would be a better place if all children were loved and nurtured in a stable, no matter what situation they were born into.

  78. gail noble says:

    When I was preg. with my 5th child I was crying one day to my grandmother”what am I going to do with 5 children” and her reply to me was ” you are going to have him/her and we are going to love him/her” and that is what happened. Now 26 years later I can not wonder what my life would be without her.

  79. Mark, really??? You are comparing “growing love in your heart” to non-renewable natural resources like oil and clean water? Come on, man.

    And your overpopulation comments are misleading, too. Yes, “fewer people are dying of starvation than ever before.” However, due to increasing cures and treatments for diseases and overall advances in medical technology and food preparation, people are living longer in general, causing the world’s population to increase every year. This puts a continuously-growing strain on those “resources” that you don’t believe are non-renewable.

    Don’t some of you people understand simple math? Even though the birth rate per capita is lower now than 1920, the factor is figured on an ever-larger sample size, so the population is continuing to grow rather than shrink. And with a net consumption of resources per capita, the non-renewable resources will continue to be depleted at an exponentially-higher rate as the population increases.

    I personally don’t care how many kids a person chooses to have, but posting agenda-laden misinformation does not help your argument.

    I’ve got a deal for all of you big-family advocates. I will stop asking if you “are done yet?” if you will stop asking me “when is the next one coming?” followed by the confused look and the condescending “awww” when I say we are done by choice.

  80. Congratulations! You’re off to a great start! I hope you have many more! I have nine and wouldn’t trade a single one of them. There IS NOT a world overpopulation problem, just like there isn’t a global warming problem. The powers that be are lying to us all and most people believe them. Poor gullible saps need to learn to think critically and not believe everything the main stream media spews forth.

  81. Dalice Skapnit says:

    We have four children also. Homeschooled, now two in college, two in high school. I used to get looks when I went grocery shopping with all of them, questioned, “are they all yours?” My kids are never lonely, never have nothing to do, I am so glad for each one of them!!!

  82. Congratulations to you and your family, Kathleen! Wonderful news!

    Song for a Fifth Child

    by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

    Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
    Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
    Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
    Sew on a button and make up a bed.
    Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
    She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

    Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
    (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
    Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
    (Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
    The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
    And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
    But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
    Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
    (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

    The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
    For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
    So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
    I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

  83. Debbie Wahlmeier says:

    When I would be asked if this child was planned, I would reply, “Oh yes. Planned and designed by God Himself!”

  84. Foppe VanderZwaag says:

    Thank you for this article. My wife and I have 9 children. We have had mostly positive comments when people saw us together. Our busiest time was when we had 4 or 5. From then on it became a lot easier with additional ‘fathers’ and ‘mothers’ helping along.

    Our grown & married children say they’re well prepared for real life. Missed out on stuff but privileged with substance.

    It’s sad to see that society (even Christians) consider children burdens. Psalm 127:3, “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” God considers them blessings; yes, they do come packaged as challenges.

    One other reason to consider large families a blessing, and have (more) children is to connect it with the growth of the Church of Christ. Psalm 128:4-5, “Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD. The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.”

  85. Congratulations! We have eight children and they are each one an incredible blessing to us. I feel so sorry for those folks who’ve chosen more things over more children — what a loss!

  86. Cherissa says:

    Thanks for penning this great post! And congrats on your beautiful and growing family!

  87. Isn’t it great that we live in a world where every family can do what is best for them? Good luck with your new addition!

  88. To anonymous: I’m so glad you are such a supporter of the foster/adoption plan! I expect that you will out do us all with your active participation in this. How many have you adopted? Do you currently have foster children in your home? If so how many, please share with us! I am a huge fan of this as well and hope that we will someday be able to adopt and foster. It is a gift, as are children who come out of my body. Children are all gifts….

  89. This is a wonderful article. I could not agree more. I would like to add to what you have to say, though. The biggest reason people respond to big families the way they do today is that we have become an anti-child, anti-family society. We murder our unborn babies in the womb because we do not want them. We divorce at alarmingly high rates, forgetting that the ones who are most damaged in these bitter wars are the children — children who need a stable, loving home with two parents because that is the way God created things. We fight for contraception and demand it as a right because God forbid we would not be able to have sex whenever we want with whomever we want and not have the burden of having children as a result. My husband and I wish to have many children, both biologically and through adoption, because children are good. Family is good, children are good, and God loves them. He is trustworthy and well able to keep those who put their trust in Him.

    All of that said, it makes perfect sense why those who do not know and trust the Lord feel the way they do about children, contraception, and the like. If there is no God to trust, then there is a lot to worry about.

    As for me and my household, we will trust the Lord.

  90. Don’t eat the yellow snow cones.

  91. ManyMore says:

    Thank you! We have five and want another and thos ccomments make me wonder when people started hating children so much and realize how selfish the population has really become.

  92. We have 1 child and people keep asking when we’ll have more.
    It seems people have a set idea for the ‘appropriate’ number of children.

    Not sure if we’ll have more yet. We might go the adoption route for some of the reasons other commenters listed. Happily, that is not a decision I have to make today.

  93. I have one child. I want more. and i am also open to adoption. To me its very important to work on my education before I have my second one though as it is enough financial hardship just having one at 18 years old. I come from a large family and I want one too. The love and joy of a big family is something everyone should have when they are ready;)

  94. I’ve got to agree with MW here, and very few others.

    World Pop. in 1950- 2,555,982,611
    World Pop. in 1975- 4,086,387,665
    World Pop. in 2000-6,081,002,937

    Even if the pop. growth rate DECREASES each year, as is trending and projected, we’re still looking at a world pop. of 7,905,208,617 by 2025.

    There IS a population crisis in this country as well as in the world, and by ignoring it, we are setting the next generation, your children, up for disaster.

  95. Congrats to you on your decision. Too bad you had to criticize everyone for judging you by you yourself judging!

    You imply you work harder because you have a bunch of kids. You’d be lazy without them? Volunteer your time – try an orphanage, especially in a country where there IS an overpopulation problem.

    Plus, you might want to teach tht child who thinks being an only child would be their “worst nightmare” to value themself as an individual and not based on how many siblings they have to be around. Lonely is a relative term.

    And your magic number is clearly more 4 or 5, but gosh, never as many as the Duggars! Now, that would be insane! Everyone has a number and their own reasons. Yours are not the only ones.

    So, good for you and I honestly do wish you the best for your 5 children, however remember to take a step back when feeling judged. Sounds like you could learn something from your own advice.

  96. We had 9 kids and though they were at times, a handful, neither my wife nor I would trade them. Change maybe but never a trade. Our oldest daughter and her husband allowed God to control their family size. Guess what… no children from 1996 to 2010. After many difficulties they adopted from Colombia, SA. Now they just returned with another boy (their first’s full brother) from Colombia. Do you love children? The Bible says they are a gift.

  97. Thank you for this post. I find myself defending the arrival of my third child. This is a nice collection of valid information that cannot be denied or categorized as religious or emotional… Even though I am both, it seems to be quickly dismissed.

  98. I don’t care how many someone has as long as they are supporting them and not me.

    Ex. 1) A doctor here in town and his wife just had their fifth baby in six years. People STILL made comments about it. Oh it’s because they are Catholic. Who cares. He can support them and his wife is a wonderful mother and he a wonderful father. Have all you want.

    Ex 2) A woman just announced she is pregnant with her fourth child. Youngest is less than a year and oldest is 5. Husband is in work release (for those that don’t know what the is. He is in jail but gets out to work) and she has not held a job in several years. She is always complaining online (via her iOS device) that she needs diapers, food, money etc. She can’t buy Christmas. Then she will post she just left Taco Bell or McDonald’s. Her mother raises her first three. Yes, she is in public housing and on all kinds of assistance. My first thought when she announced her fourth pregnancy.. I’ll pitch in for the price of a tubal!

  99. I, too, got comments like the ones you experienced. I have 7 living and had miscarried two. Here are my thoughts to these people:

    1) to the response of how populated the world is,and so many are poor, not cared for etc.
    The fact that there are so many who are not raised with good parents instilling morals, work ethics, respect or since of civic responsibility is why a few families willing to have more children and instill values to make up for so many who don’t.
    This is actually more important then people realize, often not even recognized until you discover that there aren’t enough quality, trustworthy people to run for offices, design laws, run companies, come up with inventions and medical discoveries and worse that the ones that are, are destroying the society from within . We need to be involved and raise people who will be involved.

    2) If you love kids so much, then adopt, work in social agencies, etc…
    This makes it sound like all children act and respond the same way to any individual and are equally capable of the same futures, just give them a better parent. Sadly, it takes a lot more than normal loving parenting to take on foster kids or other kids that may be up for adoption. There are often many emotional and sometimes physical and mental issues to deal with. Beginning with birth mothers who abused their bodies with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and lots of junk. Then adding to that a miserable, neglectful, stunting, abusive environment in the child’s developing stages.Yes there needs to be those willing to take these children into their home, but to say all responsible parents who want large families should give up raising their own children to raise those that were neglected, abused and abandoned is ridiculous. Why don’t these people who want only one or two give up having their own children to take care of these kids as well? Many of these children will have a chance for great success in the right environment, but I can tell you from years of working with children that it takes a huge amount of patience, often years of counseling and therapy to get these kids to that point if you can.
    3) People with large families are selfish…
    Actually they are usually not only the least selfish as they continually give up their own time, money, and provisions to care for their children, but the children learn selflessness, team work, caring for others, a good work ethic as well. The most selfish, self centered parents and kids I worked with were in single child.
    families.

  100. Share Sandearthsun says:

    Not overpopulated ? that’s why we have to create GMO foods because the world cannot support the food needed to feed us, the bread basket of America is done, if you want more babies why not just adopt? I disagree with pretty much all the points you made. If we all thought the world would be a better place by having babies we would all be in big trouble. ( & what MW said)

  101. Congratulations! I to am a physician. I practice pediatrics . I have six children. My first five are boys. So of course when we found out we were pregnant with number six, the question was “going for the girl?” One patient’s dad made the comment “you’ve been pregnant your whole adult life”. I was pregnant with my daughter at the age of 42 so you also get the tag of Ama . People also say “didn’t you learn in medical school how this happens?” Believe or not one man said you know there is a mastectomy to help that. Yes no typo mastectomy. Didn’t have the heart to correct him. My children are a blessing all different callings and personalities. They have helped provide more practical cme for me in my profession . Your husband must be wonderful. Your relationship with God must be strong. May you have a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.
    One side note we are almost finished with diapers after 17 years. Just holding steady until this happens.

  102. Refreshing

  103. I am pregnant with my 3rd .

  104. Ronnie Douglas says:

    Amen! You’ve said what’s been on my heart for years Children are not a burden they are our future! Without children society will eventually disintegrate
    Congratulations on your wonderful news You enjoy every moment of being Mom & don’t let the negative nay sayers get you down Blessings to you & your precious family

  105. Jim McM says:

    I agree with most of your comments, (and I have many children myself) but while you state your case you put people down. Do you think people that have no or few children are selfish and drive expensive cars? I know very generous people who have no children. Please speak for yourself, don’t generalize. You are asking people not to make judgements about your decisions yet you are doing the very same.

  106. Hi just read your post I am 40 and 5 Mos Pregnant with our 5th child ours range from 20 to 10 years old I am a stay at home mom I have heard all the negative as well as positive I say live your life how it makes you happy we only get one time here. I love my kids we are having our 2nd Boy this time and will try once more for a girl, i want 6 kids we all are close and love each other so very much I would not want to live my life without my wonderful Husband and kids, we have never had a hand out or welfare so it is no one elses buisness but ours, I am very happy for you and yours. hope you have a wonderful pregnacy and a happy happy life. Live it to the fullest with your Beautiful 5 kids :)

  107. I love this! A great defense of the large family.
    The comments you mentioned at the beginning are unspeakably rude and misguided — especially the sarcastic comment about the Psalmist’s beautiful words. If someone ever says something like that to me, I hope I’ll be able to chime back happily with: “of course not — who could ever have too many arrows in the quiver? The blessings of youth!”

  108. Stephanie says:

    Congratulations!! We have 4, and my husband expressed this past year that he wished we hadn’t decided to be “DONE”…..I was sad for him, for a minute, then decided that I wasn’t going to lament it, and move forward and just LOVE on the kids we have and take the best possible care of them, so that they can be Productive, Independent, Successful adults someday, who have good manners and know how to treat others.

  109. Krystal says:

    So I am now a mom of 8. I get a lot of those same comments. Not from people with large families but those with none, 1 or 2. (Sorry this is what i have encountered)I have had to say to people friends included God gives some families 1 and others 20 for me he has given us 8. Please don’t judge me by your convictions. I have been called a breeder because when I was on b.c. (3 Different types ) gave me 3 more babies. I have had to say to my fil which one would you kill. When questions why we are pregnant And to my mother when she told me. I need to get my tubes tied children are your inheritance and I am blessed that God has choose me to help him in creation. We have never asked help from anyone. so what right do they have in my family.
    Someone else i didn’t know concerned with my health . People in Sams club ask me how I feed them . I responded that’s why we are at sams. I even had one woman in publix say Feel sorry for you .in front of a whole group of people and with my children in tow and with me I smile on my face I responded please don’t feel sorry for me. These are my blessings that God choose to give me.
    I know people who want babies and cant have them and people who don’t want babies, people who foster and adopt people who have 1 and others with 11. None are more honorable than I and I am no more honorable then them.

  110. Good for you! We all should spend more time doing the things that make us happy, and less time worrying about what other people are doing! We have 4 boys, and the questions I hear most is, “Are you going to try for a girl?” I think my husband and I feel like our family is complete, but our kids (yes, all 4 of them,) ask constantly when we are going to have another baby, and when they will have a baby sister. I am always divided when I hear that – feeling selfish in that I have enjoyed the last year so much with 4 boys growing up, and no one nursing or in diapers for the first time in 12 years, but also loving that they love our family as much as I do, and would be thrilled to hear us say, “we’re having another baby!”

  111. I can not say enough how much I love this article. As a mother of 6 and we are planning number 7 I understand all of what you are saying!!! Congratulations on your next arrival!!!

  112. We have six kids (yes, we’re Catholic), and we’ve heard “Are you done yet?” more times than I can count. That comment always reminds me of my Southern grandmother, who insisted that the word “done” was far too inelegant to refer to a lady. “A cooked turkey is done,” she would say. “A lady has simply had her sufficiency.”

  113. ellen chevarie says:

    no one should put anyone down for the size of their family.its who you are and who you teach your children to be that counts.if your blessed with one child or 5,its still a blessing.make it count!

  114. If she can support them without welfare, let her have as many as she wants…it’s those that can’t support their own children we should worry about….or those who are raising their children to be burdens on society..

  115. I find it very revealing that of 8 of your “reasons”, only the second one is not about you. I’m so happy for you that you want less stuff, are more humble, aren’t bored, work hard, have a young and joyful spirit, and realize how ridiculous you are. Even reason number two is about how much your other children get from having another baby. You have yet to convince me that this is what is in the best interests of child number 5. In fact, you don’t seem to empathize with #5 at all.

    I am number 5 out of 6. There were scarce resources for us, and I’m not just talking about money. My father was an attorney and my mother a mostly stay-at-homer in the upper middle class. They had less money when my older siblings were born, but more energy and enthusiasm. They had more focus on the first 3, which is natural.

    I give my two children great education, music education, cultural and religious education, sports, art, downtime, me time, and I still feel inadequate sometimes. And I only work 2 hours a day. My husband and I can only spread ourselves so thin.

    Lessons, homework, reading, good nutrition, etc.. take a lot of time. You will never convince me that the ratio of 2:2 isn’t better than 2:5. I’ve been there, as #5 child, and as mother of 2. It was because of my experiences as a #5 child of two loving devoted parents, that I question your motives. It may be wonderful to you and your husband, but is it really best for #5, 4, 3, 2, and 1? Good for you that YOU feel so rewarded by this decision, now how is this going to impact the children you’ve brought into this world?

  116. Arlene V says:

    Hi, read you’re article with joy!! We are expecting our 8th at the beginning of May, 7 sons in this house! ;) (We don’t know what this one is…wait and see…!) And yes, the reactions that you get can be quite the eye brow raisers. Thank you for writing this article. May God strengthen you with His wisdom, love and patience to raise these children He has RICHLY blessed you with to His honour and glory!!

  117. This is so refreshing! Thank you so much for sharing! I hope and pray we can have a big family also!

  118. a. Barney says:

    I’m the oldest of 8 and my youngest brother is 22 years younger than me. I heard all the quips and struggled with every weird prejudice against large families right there with my parents, and sometimes it was terribly embarrassing. However, as a young adult, three months away from having my first baby I plan to follow in my parents footsteps. I cannot express how valuable my family has been to me, and what each new addition has brought into my life. I could illustrate specific ways each one of us has impacted the others and it is, in my opinion, the most beautiful and complicated combination of experiences life has to offer.

  119. Thank you for this posts. I am expecting my sixth child in the fall. I know how important our view of children can be. We should treat them as gifts not liabilities.

  120. Congratulations! So with you on this. Here is my response from not quite a year ago when we were expecting our eighth and I had about enough of being asked the other common question addressed to parents of large families: You know how that happens, don’t you?

  121. veronica says:

    There is a very strong contrarian & negative spirit in our society that wants to put down & insult nearly everything. Mom used to talk about the “crabs in the bucket” syndrome, where the climbing crabs get pulled down by the bottom crabs. Describing how anyone achieving anything gets pulled down, their accomplishments negated. It ain’t only motherhood & children that’s denigrated. So I want to remind the nay-sayers of the Beatles’ song: Wake up! “All you need is love!”

  122. Minna Jensen says:

    Congratulations!!!! Enjoy ALL your children, all children are a blessing :)
    Minna (from Denmark)

  123. Congratulations to your entire family! I pray you and baby have a joyful, healthy pregnancy.
    Angela

  124. daniel j. cernovich says:

    Awesome article!
    Wondeful point about about our low birth-rate problem!
    And yes children are our future!
    When did people start forgetting this,I wonder?
    Be fruitful and mutiply people!
    We are not China!
    We need more children;not less!
    And life is a gift!Cherish it everyone!
    GOD bless this woman and her whole family!!!

  125. Congrats!!! Having a child is such a gift.

    I am simply happy as can be that my parents didn’t listen to comments made by others. I am number 12 out of 12 – and life can be interesting – very interesting for our family. I married a man with just one sister and we only have 2 children, but I look at my life as a gift and laugh often over my childhood antics! ;-)

  126. Elizabeth says:

    I come from a family of nine children and don’t want a large family for too long a list of reasons to post here. I don’t care how many kids someone has as long as they’re not on the government’s dole. I personally know a couple that has three children under the age of three and they are receiving all sorts of government benefits. That irks me.

  127. Thank you for your article. I have had all the comments and questions as well. When we were expecting our twins, many people said, ‘Glad it is you and not me’. Well, I was glad. We have five children with large age gaps in between due to fertility issues. This has provoked questions as to whether they all have the same dad. The questions do not bother me so much because I am reminded of how blessed I am to have five kids, and I have been married to the same Godly man for almost thirty years.

  128. Daymond Helton says:

    I am an 84 year old widower after 61 years of a(one) great marriage , retired USAF officer, father of four great sons born in four different areas. I am a grandfather of eleven, ggrandpa of sixteen and still going. My one wife enjoyed all these with me. Most if not all these are born again Christians. None are wards of the state.

  129. Amen! My older daughters and I started to literally grade people’s reactions to hearing we were pregnant with our 8th child. And imagine the shock and wonderment when we then went out and intentionally adopted two more!

    Praise God! Keep preaching it!

  130. Love it! I think I could have written this blog post almost word for word! We have 7 children, and love each little one!!! We have received many rude and odd remarks, but I look at it as an opportunity to teach someone that having children is a good thing! I always smile, and say something kind back to people, and sometimes I see the wheels turning in their brains, as if they are truly thinking about what I have just said, and that maybe having several children doesn’t have to be such a bad thing.
    I once had a women walk up to me with her two children and say, “If I were you I think I would kill myself.” As she said this her 11-12 year old son pointed a finger at his temple like a gun, pretended to pull the trigger and said, “No, really. She would.” Wow! How sad for those children?

  131. Thank you. This is very refreshing to read. I have 7 beautiful children. 6 on earth, and one very special boy in heaven. We lost him just 6 weeks ago. But they are all very very special. The comments I get are so frustrating, and hurtful, but people just don’t understand. When I get the “don’t you know what causes that?” I tell them I went to private school and we skipped that chapter. Then I ask If they’d like to explain it to me! LOL

  132. Great article and congratulations on adding number five!
    I proudly tell people that we have five kids (16 -9 yrs old) when they ask about my family. I rarely get negative or sarcastic comments back because they can tell that I KNOW all of my kids are awesome and having five kids is awesome. My opinion on the subject is unshakable.
    Truth be told, we were satisfied with four and planned to stop there…but..that was not to be. While all of our kids are amazing, the fifth one is really very special. Her life has taught us that life is such a blessing and while we would have a great life with four…it is truly better with our youngest. hmmmm…I wonder what would happen with six?…
    Again, congratulations!

  133. I love large families, and if I had started my family at a younger age, we would probably have 3 or 4 kids right now. But our family feels beautifully complete with 2 children, and I have come to accept that it’s what is right for us. I have to agree with Jim McM. Some of your comments take on a preachy and judgmental tone against people who have smaller families. I am guessing that is unintentional and probably a necessary defense against the criticism you endure for having a large family. It’s unfair that you have to bear the brunt of other people’s rudeness. I wish we could all do a better job appreciating that each family makes the best decisions it can for their resources and circumstances, whether large or small in size. I am glad that you are in a position to enjoy your beautiful family, and I wish you all the best.

  134. danielle moore says:

    Seriously get over yourself all for attention same reason you keep poping them out because u thrive off the attention you get from having a baby

  135. Renae Wilson says:

    Thank you for sharing. We had much of the same response when we were expecting our 5th. It’s heartbreaking to live in a society where children are not seen as a blessing. I cannot imagine life without my children. They truly are the richest blessings my husband and I have in our lives. As we see them mature and grow,it’s exciting to see how being part of a larger family has taught them to be generous, loving and compassionate children. Children are a blessing!

  136. Doug Walter says:

    LOVE IT, Thrilled for you and a little jealous. We hoped for four ( wife and I are both the third of four) but God decided three is all we get. AND
    after the gift of Himself, they are His greatest gifts to us ( and we hope, among our greatest gifts to this world.) All Eagle scouts and eager to do good stuff. Many Blessings on you and your tribe. Enjoy !

  137. Let me keep this brief. CONGRATULATIONS!

  138. Hi Kathleen,
    Congratulations on #5. I just wanted to add to your article…coming from a community where the norm is 4 children or more, the tables are turned. I frequently get asked ‘so these 2 are your only children?’ I come from a society where I am looked down upon b/c I ‘only’ have 2 (chosen or not). Maybe I am too sensitive b/c of my fertility issues, but I just wanted to show the other side of the story.
    Thanks, and may God bless you and your family!

  139. I have four kids. We are not done yet! (#4 is a newborn now though so no immediate plans, either.)

    We heard some of these comments — from family, no less — when we announced we were expecting #4 last summer. They KNEW we wanted a big family.

    Meanwhile our kids were THRILLED. I have to fight them off — everyone wants a turn holding the baby! My oldest says we need 10 kids. Or 96, either one. She loves all her brothers (we have three boys) and they would all love another sister someday, too. If any kid goes to stay with grandparents for a couple days, they all miss each other and they are sad. When the kid returns they play together non-stop. It’s not so much US they miss (parents) but each other. They adore being part of a big family. It’s not for everyone but we enjoy it!

  140. mike hosking says:

    Just heard the GAO’s latest data says in 15 – 20 years there will only be two workers paying taxes to support each retiree…so get to work parents we need MORE CHILDREN!
    I regret I could not have had more myself, it wasn’t like we didn’t try.

  141. YEAH!! yeah for you. I have 4 and would love 4 more….children are a blessing from God – I’ll take as many as He chooses to give me! love raising them love having them and we have absolutely beautiful children – so I consider it my gift to the world! :D

  142. I agree with the comment above–as long as they can support the children and stay off of government assistance this is great. It’s when these people keep having children because they know how to “play the system” and the more children they have the more they get in assistance. It’s too bad that after two kids and the mom does nothing to get off of welfare that the government doesn’t have mandatory sterilization.

  143. We married relatively young and had 6 boys, and then 1 daughter in less than ten years, got the exact same responses (yes we knew what caused it) and we’ve never regretted it. Our children may not be perfect, but they and their spouses are an absolute joy and the as the grand-kids are now coming on it gets better every year. I feel bad for those who want children and can’t have them, but I feel more sorry for those who can and don’t. At least the first group can adopt. The second will never know what they missed.

  144. Congratulations! I am child #8 in my family. None of us would have ever had it any other way. My Mom stayed at home and my Dad always worked two jobs. We were never on gov. assistance. All my siblings and I love big families but, as it turned out, none of us had any more than 4 children. I would have loved to have more.
    It’s so sad that society has adapted a negative attitude about large families. We’re the fun ones!
    Best wishes to you and yours and blessings for a happy and healthy pregnancy and delivery.
    Laura

  145. Rick Norsman says:

    You’re full of crap. Sorry. Our rate of immigration can more than make up for our low birthrate. Your “reasons” are all selfish and don’t consider the impacts to the world around you. Try thinking outside of the US. Population rates CAN go down and we’ll still be all-right. I have children, I love them. But every additional one I bring into the world becomes more about me and less about my responsibilities to the world around me.

  146. Congratulations! I only have two right now and thought I was done. However, my husband and I would like to now have another…maybe even two since our two children are almost 7 and 10. When my mother found out, she flipped because, in her eyes, we have the perfect family since we have a boy and a girl.
    I think having children is a personal decision. If you don’t want any, that’s fine. If you can only take care of one or two, that’s fine two. I have friends that have 5 or more, and they have delightful children that are happy and well-cared for. I think that is what counts!

  147. Kudos to you! From a mom of 11.

  148. Loved your article!!! I am a mom to 7 children, ages 15 down to 2. We homeschool as well. I wasn’t able to read all the comments, but how sad to think that some people think you are selfish for wanting more children, and how it may not be in the best interest of #5 to have so many siblings! To those I say….the Lord has a plan, and He is preparing our children by placing them in your home. We as humans are going to mess up. How is it that I know waaaayyy too many people with only 2 children who are totally messing up? Should they have had only one? I look at each of my children and couldn’t imagine my life with out each and every one of them. I would say they are pretty glad to be here as well. Are we perfect? NO! But we love and learn and pray for the best. Our society has bought into the lie that to have a fulfilling life you must….insert all the typical qualifications (only have 2 children, preferably a boy and a girl, though it is acceptable to have a 3rd child if your first two are of the same gender, but by golly no more than that; have a college degree; have the latest clothing/electronic gadgets; etc). It is sad that someone may feel left out. I am the oldest of 5 and I can look back and see the mistakes that were made in my upbringing, but I would NEVER wish that I was only one of two.

    Anyways, congratulations on number 5!

    Kerri

  149. You had me until your last comment about not having siblings. Please realize that small families ands parents of only children also have valid reasons for their choices and feel equally as judged by you as you do by them, albeit for different reasons. Additionally, don’t turn a blind eye to the problem of infertility that plagues many couples and how painful that is. All in all good article and good points.

  150. Nichole S says:

    Congratulations! My number five will be one year old in June!

  151. Heather says:

    I don’t get it- all the reasons you list are about how another baby will help YOU… And now you will have 5 children that someone else raises while you go to work all day? Lucky kids….

  152. Saskia Nollen says:

    To each his own, I say. I do not have children (by choice). And just like you I too play outside every day. With my wonderful dogs :-) I am also youthful, energetic (at 45), I work hard, I don’t sweat the small stuff, I don’t have nor want a fancy car/house/stuff. Looks like we’re not that different!

  153. jessica says:

    If I could have I would have had more kids as well. I was told after three episodes of pre-eclampsia, an 11 pound baby who I was on bedrest for over half of my pregnancy, a premie and three c-sections having another was not the best idea. But babies and kids are the worlds greatest blessing. You have been blessed abundantly :)

  154. I grew up as a sister to four, and my husband has five siblings. I must say that as I grow older I see the wisdom of having many siblings in later years: in helping our disabled siblings (we each have one), in helping our aging parents, and in family holiday dinners! ;) (No one has to make an entire dinner, ever!) And even when one of our parents passed away, we each had the luxury of choosing what we each could do to help ease the pain, instead of having the entire burden on one or two people. And what a blessing that is!

  155. Long-Skirts says:

    THE
    LITTLE
    BIGS

    You can have a
    BIG house
    You can have a
    BIG car
    You can even have a great
    BIG fighting war

    You can have a
    BIG dog
    You can have a
    BIG check
    You can even have a party
    On a great BIG deck

    You can have a
    BIG trip
    You can have a
    BIG debt
    But there’s one big
    BIG that they hate you bet –

    A great
    BIG family
    Full of great
    BIG hearts
    They’re a silent rebuke to the little
    BIG farts!
    (a mother of 10)

  156. I had to read this….in the tag line, it sounded so similar to my own experience. And then, after reading it, I thought I had written myself. But, of course, I hadn’t. But I resonate with every bit, including the 14-yr-old comment, because my daughter that exact age has said the same thing about being oldest of 5……..she doesn’t in any way disparage others whose situations are different, but honestly…..it’s us 5-ers who get the greatest amount of grief given….as I said to a friend the other day: 2 is normal. 3 is kinda cool. 4 is a little odd. 5 is downright weird. past 5, they just think you’re an alien creature, so it’s not worth commenting on. (One of my dearest friends has 15 and is as down-to-earth as they come….but oh, the comments….!) So here’s to the weirdies….;) We’re a fun breed! And our lives are filled with blessings indeed.

    Congrats on #5!

  157. Most of the comments on this post have been very supportive, but I haven’t seen anyone really address the concerns raised by those who accused the author of selfishness. That’s what I’d like to address.

    When we post, we post our own thoughts, the impact of experience on us, not anyone else. We don’t presume to know what our kids’ benefits are, we can only speak to our own experience. That’s why the list is all about the parent. It has nothing to do with selfishness. Pardon me, but anyone who accuses a parent of five of selfishness isn’t thinking very clearly. The more kids you have, the less selfish you can be. You give up material comforts, you give up “me” time, you give up sleep, you give and give and give some more. Please don’t accuse anyone of selfishness because they are focusing on what good things have happened to them because they have children. I cannot say this strongly enough.

    Now, as for the benefit to the children, there’s a saying that holds a lot of truth: “The best gift you can give your child is a(nother) sibling.” Because they, too, learn to make do with less material good, learn to give of self, learn that the world does not revolve around them. These are inevitable lessons in a large family and they’re lessons a lot of adults could stand to learn. In addition, they learn love. They have a built-in support network that will last them their entire lives. They are learning that people, not music lessons or sports, are the most important thing in life.

    As a mother of 4 myself, all planned, I can vouch that our consumption is lower than that of almost all our neighbors, who have half as many people in their homes. Carbon footprint is not directly proportional to family size.

    Jenny’s comment about small families feeling judged is also a valid one. Godly families come in all sizes, and it’s not our business to judge anyone else’s calling.

    And I need to shut up now, because this is becoming an epistle of its own! :)

  158. I have one child, I love her dearly. It was a choice my husband I made for very personal reasons. My husband came from a family of 5, I am an only child. We know and understand both sides. I certainly had parents who ensured that I was not raised having been indulged or spoiled. I have no issue with you having as many children as you can care for and raise. I do have an issue with the following comment.
    “Without kids, I’m sure I’d watch more TV, drink more wine, and become a more selfish individual. With kids, I’m forced to think of others and avoid self-absorption.” As a parent of fewer than five children I find that your co relation between having multiple children and the selfishness and indulgence of the parents insulting and I ask you who are you to judge the value of a family and of the parents by its size?

  159. Hi, My name is Mary and I think it is wonderful to have a big family. I have a huge extended family and love our crazy family gathering. I always wanted a big family for as long as I can remember. When I was little I used to want 10! Now I am thinking around 6 haha but really I just want a big family that loves and cares for each other and that is what your family sounds like and I would love nothing more them to have that many little ones in the future! You are a wonderful mom and they are lucky to have you and all of their brothers and sisters :)

  160. Jonathan Smith says:

    My stance is this, anyone can have as many children as they can sustain, because it’s basically just humanly, thus, humanly possible. Nobody can take away a MARRIED couples right to have children, not in our country. Shame on those who complain about people with lots of children, at the very least it’s LAWFUL, it’s like complaining to the waitress about prices like a COWARD. If you don’t like it, TALK TO A MANAGER, or in this case a lawmaker. That being said… It doesn’t change the fact; that those VERY realities may be a apart of an inevitable catastrophic population loss at some point. If anyone has complained about your carbon footprint, they are ignorant. The bottom line is that it is an INSANE problem FAR beyond petty snide remark repair… We’d have to have some miracle, global collaboration as a species, totally impossible in my opinion. What? 5 kids? How much will they travel? What? Worried about their car usage? HAHA The families of US Airline pilots in the United States will LITERALLY DEVOUR ANYTHING A Family of FIVE (DO YOU KNOW HOW EXPENSIVE FLYING IS?) … any possible taint the family of 5 would cause.

    Go live in Beijing, or if you don’t understand what I mean by Beijing, when discussing pollution, please search beijing pollution through the internet.

    Have as many kids as you want! It sounds like you’ll be great parents! If you can manifest the good our planet needs through procreation, then I should thank you!

    “Extinction is the antithesis of our nature, and yet our nature is driving us towards extinction.”

  161. I can’t not comment on this. I was an only child and I was fine. Never lonely and surrounded by people, cousins, friends, parents, love. How dare you.
    And don’t even get me started on homeschooling.
    And in what is proven by lack of resources to be an overpopulated planet, whether or not your children are, “loving” (because they clearly will be extremely judgmental) they will still be a burden.

  162. Well said! Blessings to you and your family!! I couldn’t imagine having a small family either, love my six and I am so thankful I was blessed with them. I too had one lady ask me while in line one time at a store, in front of my kids, “Do you not know how they come?” I turned and saw no children with her and replied, “You must not either!” The check out clerk told me he couldn’t have said it better. I thought..”gracious, where are your manners?”. Usually don’t say anything but I tell you…how rude can one get? lol

  163. You’re a pediatrician, have 5 children, AND homeschool?? HOW do you do it???

  164. Anita Johnson says:

    Hello everyone and especially hello to you Kathleen. I love that you are embracing motherhood and a career with such grace. We are also parents of what I lovingly refer as a tribe, or sometimes a basketball team with two cheerleaders. I was pregnant and or nursing for 17 years. It seemed to be that I was “tired to my bones” until about 5 years after I’d finished nursing our seventh child.
    One of husband’s favorite replies to “Don’t you know what causes that?” was “No. Could you explain it to me.” :-D
    I have frequently been called a saint (ha! if only they knew….) and have had MANY people apologetically say they “only” have 1..2…3 (whatever the number) to which I always reply “that’s a lovely family, too.” A response I learned the hard way to give after putting my foot in my mouth and offending someone who was unable to have children.
    I read somewhere that when a given society reaches a reproductive rate of less than 2.5 that society will eventually disappear. You are so right when you say that our children are our hope and our future. In a society where our senior saints are often relegated to a forgotten existence in nursing homes, I know I will never have to face that. More than one of our sons has assured me I’ll always have a place to live and they will take care of me. They are all such a wonderful blessing to us. We are thrilled to watch them come into their own, each making such a positive impact on the world around them. Some have taken rather bumpy roads to get there, (we sometimes have wondered if our oldest was EVER going to grow up…praise God, he did and is now going back to church, etc.) but they are getting there. And NOW…. we have new titles which we absolutely love. Can you guess what that would be?

  165. Anita Johnson says:

    ps: My older daughter would like to have as many children as the Duggars.

  166. We have 6. When we had #4 we had 2 girls and 2 boys. Everyone said, “2 girls, 2 boys. You’re done right?” But we knew we were not done. We knew there was one more. After we had #5 people were than asking when we would have another. I found that funny. #6 came along unexpectedly but we can’t imagine our family without him. Then when we talk to people they tell us how nice it is when you feel like your entire family is there. We have not had that feeling. People expect us to be done because we have an even 6 kids. But my husband and I both know our family is not complete yet. We don’t tell anyone, though. Their reactions are too negative – even from family.

  167. Wait, did I read this right? The author is a pediatrician and she home schools 5 kids? That just is not possible.

  168. I’m all for big happy families and simple living, but the author lists selfish reasons for having more kids. I’m reading “I” and “Me” too much.

  169. Good for you! And brave of you for taking on a slew of controversial topics such as how many kids you personally choose to have ;)

    I am a mormon and I have three kids with no plans to have any more, and my husband and I have had our share of “why not more?” Perhaps the magical number is 4. Then again, it seems more likely that people will have something negative to say no matter what you choose. To them I say: “mind your own business and keep your nasty comments within the privacy of your own home like the rest of us do.”

    I can definitely vouch for the fact that I have become more and more selfless with each child, its really just a law of physics, and that each time I spend extended periods of time away from them I am reminded of how pointless and empty my life would be without them.

  170. JB, I’m a bit confused about some of your response. It sounds like you had a start in life that she is advocating as the point of her article…. Love the kids you have and view them as hope for the world rather than a burden. It sounds like your parents saw you that way and surrounded you with love outside of just themselves even though they chose to have one child. She is asking for people to give the same consideration to families that choose more. You attack her with such disdain that she doesn’t understand you, but she didn’t write the article to attack the number of children in any family but the attitudes and responses of people who think they know best for any family other than their own. You accuse her of being judgmental and the surety that she is raising judgmental kids but your own response teems with judgment. If we want to maintain the freedom to choose in this nation we must make allowance for others to choose as well even when they will choose differently from us. We must stop taking offense at anyone who does something in life differently than we would choose and we must spend more time trying to understand than making sure we are understood.

  171. JB, I’m a bit confused about some of your response. It sounds like you had a start in life that she is advocating as the point of her article…. Love the kids you have and view them as hope for the world rather than a burden. It sounds like your parents saw you that way and surrounded you with love outside of just themselves even though they chose to have one child. She is asking for people to give the same consideration to families that choose more. You attack her with such disdain that she doesn’t understand you, but she didn’t write the article to attack the number of children in any family but the attitudes and responses of people who think they know best for any family other than their own. You accuse her of being judgmental and the surety that she is raising judgmental kids but your own response teems with judgment. If we want to maintain the freedom to choose in this nation we must make allowance for others to choose as well even when they will choose differently from us. We must stop taking offense at anyone who does something in life differently than we would choose and we must spend more time trying to understand than making sure we are understood.

  172. evelyn watton says:

    I have five incredible children whoo are all grown up and gone their own ways my home is empty and lonely I wish more days then not that we had more babys .they are the joys of any home .I am so happy for you ,hold them close and always tell them you love them ,they are the jewels of any persons heart and I wish you ever little joy and laughter you find in all you babys .if I were closer you know you would never get rid of me .I would be like the other foot in the door stuck to go in or out and never wanting to go out .ha ha so to oyu and your husband and all you babys I hope you so many happt times and loads of laughter .as you can see I am typing and crying of tears for the babys I never had but hope you have for me .lol

  173. First of all, congratulations on baby #5! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this article. I too have 5 kids & also have heard all of the same questions from others. We homeschool as well and we have been so blessed by each one of our children. They feel exactly like yours about how boring and lonely life would be w/o lots of siblings and they too would love us to have more! Many blessings on your family!

  174. Jessica says:

    “You guys need to find a new hobby” is our most annoying one.

  175. I was a flight attentant for 17years, then retired to raise my 3 stepsons I’m 40 years old with now one one the way IT’s a GIRL! For me.. It was a very lonely life traveling the world not having a family of my own, I always thought I was missing something until I met my husband and his three boys. My life has been blessed ever since..It’s been 4 years so far of happiness for me and I don’t miss flying one bit! If I get an ich to fly I take my stepsons with me and show them my world.

  176. Thankful for families like yours! I love children and to raise a child for the glory of our Lord is the most blessed endeavor in life!!!!

  177. I don’t think you need to defend a 5th child. There are pros and cons to either having lots of children or few. Your reasons weren’t great anyways. They would all apply to someone with one child and I’m sure there are others with more children that don’t play outside with their kids everyday. I am the baby of 6. My parents weren’t able to send any of us to college, they didn’t have one on one time with each child. They couldn’t afford health insurance or dental. Many of my siblings have emotional and rejection issues and have experienced many financial issues themselves maybe partly due to poor financial role models in my parents. There were lots of hand me down clothes and other kids making fun of us. With that said, that still might have happened with only 3 of us, who knows? I suppose each person should have as many children as they can dedicate time and finances to. I have 3. For me that is perfect because I can afford to have life insurance on them, health insurance, college funds and give them travel and cultural experiences that I couldn’t afford with more kids.

  178. Nichole says:

    I hear the same comments all the time, even from family. Most people just don’t understand the joy that my six little ones bring into my life. My children ARE my greatest gift to society and will definately not be a burden. They adore each other and ask me all the time when we are going to have another-I need to wait a while for my health. My oldest is seven and my house can get a bit crazy, but I wouldn’t change it for anything! Thanks for posting!

  179. Michael Kubisewsky says:

    I read your article and it got me thinking so I wanted to respond. I really did take my time to consider this but my response is long by internet standards. But I think your article touched on a very complicated and important issue so if you’re in a rush then I’m sorry.

    First, I agree with pretty well agree with everything you said about the benefits of having children. But I also believe we are overpopulating this planet. I know some people say over consumption is the problem but I think both are.

    I think the bigger issue though is the lack of discussion as soon as overpopulation is brought up. When it is brought up is it really an argument of fact? Or is that people acquire their own personal beliefs about their lifestyle long before they acquire facts and then pick and choose which facts they choose to believe BECAUSE of their beliefs while ignoring legitimate concerns on the other side.

    And then it degrades down to a case of “it’s a personal choice and none of my business”. Which is really the heart of the problem. The choices we make are each other’s problems. Burden or not, having kids, just like smoking or volunteering or instead of working is not just a personal choice. It has repercussions on society. On people that probably don’t share each other’s personal beliefs. But we have the same bodies. We bleed, eat, drink, live and die from the same pool. So it is our business how many kids someone chooses to have.

    So my questions is how do we listen to each other? There are legitimate issues on both sides to address. On one hand, we are facing extinction rates equal to that of a mass extinction and where the population is exploding in the world, the reasons for having children are very different, if it’s a choice at all. On the other hand, children themselves do offer countless many benefits as you mentioned. And it much easier to teach children than it is to re-teach adults who have chosen a path that is detrimental on society. On the other hand it’s not a math equation. Those “bad” adults aren’t cancelled out by raising good children. On the other hand having children is a defining part of our humanity that everyone has the right to experience. On other hand people could just adopt; you mentioned low-birth rate being the problem. But that’s only a problem for certain cultural groups. On the other hand, cultural variety is a good thing for humanity. This could go on and on…

    My fear though is this argument will be left for academics, separated from the real world between individuals who can actually make the difference. Cause the thing is, if we are overpopulated, we only get one shot at fixing it. Life will continue, but on a timescale longer than we have. And, despite this still being brought up as a possibility, humans will NEVER die off because we didn’t reproduce enough. Our frontal lobes pretty much guarantee that from happening. And we have a seven billion margin of error right now, it’s just not gonna happen. So, how do we talk about this?

  180. Wow…great read here. I am a dad of 6 and there is nothing better than coming home at the end of a hard day and having lots of little hugs and kisses, except maybe tucking them all in at night and getting another round of hugs and kisses.

    I hate reading comments like Jb and Ann, though.

    - Ann: The author states “Without kids, I’m sure I’d watch more TV, drink more wine, and become a more selfish individual. With kids, I’m forced to think of others and avoid self-absorption.” There is an ‘I’ in there…not a ‘YOU’. The author knows how she would be and is leaving you to reflect on your own inclinations.

    - And Jb…how dare YOU. Clearly the ease at which you are offended and your idea that only your beliefs are the only ones that are valid indicate how you turned out. Cousins and extended family are great and love is present (and absent) in families of all sizes, but love between siblings is a special kind that creates a unique outlook, and the teamwork necessary in a large family also creates a unique perspective that is very difficult to duplicate. And let’s get you started on homeschooling…are you implying that this DOCTOR or my wife and I as educated parents somehow will do a worse job than a B.A.-holding public school teacher with 100+ students per day? How can they as employees of a corporation be more vested in the success of my children than I am? Further, there is no lack of resources in this ‘overpopulated’ planet or we wouldn’t be walking around with smart phones and eating at any number of fast food restaurants offering value but little in terms of nutrition. We have simply stopped being responsible and demanding (at least through our purchasing decisions) that companies put our health and the planet ahead of profits. Oh, and simple math continues to show that America’s overall fertility rate is below the replacement rate and that educated people seem to be breeding less…so how do you predict that will that work out over time? Talk about judgmental…pot, meet kettle.

    It’s about choice people. If you want to be the Duggars, good on you. If you want to have 1, good on you, too. If you just want dogs, cats, fish, or horses…whatever. Whatever your decision, take care the family you choose and we are all better off as a society.

  181. I have two and can’t imagine any more!

    I do have to say my opinion is that while it is nice for the parents to have so many kids, and may be eco friendly while they are young due to reusing older kids clothes and kids items, each of those kids will need a home, cars and utilize tons of plastics and other consumables over his or her life time. Each child is a huge environmental impact. Its just not to the benefit of the health of our ecosystem to have a huge family these days.

    But their is such a biological drive to have kids! I understand; I grapple with that too.

  182. We have eight children and from the 3rd pregnancy on, I heard all the nonsense you listed, and more. It was ridiculous. It’s no one’s business how many kids we have. It’s so interesting to me that ALL the criticism we received came from Christian people. Not one of my non-professing friends or family members criticized us a bit; they thought it was great – if that’s what we wanted.

    Children are a heritage from the Lord. My kids have told me that the best thing I ever gave to them was their siblings! We do have a low population problem and it’s only going to get worse unless people have babies.

    My only regret is that I was unable to have more than 8.

    Thanks for writing this blog post.
    Tricia Johnson

  183. A great factually-based response to nay-sayers and such a positive outlook on parenting!

  184. I love seeing someone who is choosing to have a larger family without feeling obligated to do so. We have two small children now, a girl and a boy, but both of us have this feeling that someone is still missing. We said we wanted between 3 and 5 children when we got married. Everyone (outside my immediate family, that is) thought we were nuts, and still seem to. My last pregnancy had extreme complications, almost resulting in my own death and that of our son, but we pulled through and the cause of the trouble is gone, so I’m actually curious what a normal pregnancy would be like. I hope we can have another child, although I’m not medically clear to even try quite yet. Kudos to you and your big little fmaily!

  185. Totally on board with you here. I have three and would love more! But, just to point out the flip side, I find it irritating when parents around their next pregnancy as if it were an “accident” or “surprise”. I’ve seen things along the lines of “whoops…we did it again!” Or “We just can’t seem to control ourselves” or “I don’t know why this keeps happening to us!”

    Welllllll, I do and so do you.

    It was PLANNED!!!! (Yes, I know there are exceptions…but with the exception of one friend who adopted thinking she was infertile and then after 10+ years of trying actually conceived, I know no one else who fit the exception).

    And that’s OK to admit. Just ADMIT you want a lot of children. Just ADMIT you’re happy to be pregnant and expanding your family! Just ADMIT you intended this to happen! And stop acting like it’s just some cosmic accident and that the fate of your family size is beyond all possible control.

    OK, off soapbox now. :)

  186. *announce their next pregnancy, not around their next pregnancy

  187. Oh my goodness. So many people with thin skin.

    The first thing that needs to be addressed is that the author is speaking of her own experiences. If you infer some sort of judgment from her personal experiences, that’s your own doing, and it is not what the author is doing.

    Second, if you really feel bad about having a smaller family because someone says, “Big families are great!” and you infer that they are slighting you (which they are not), then perhaps you should consider having more kids because this is your issue, not the issue of those that already have children.

    Third, people keep bringing up adoption. Adoption is a great thing; I have a sibling, nephews, and cousins who are adopted. But, kids who are up for adoption do not generally come from these types of homes. Kids who are up for adoption generally come from parents who were not married when they had kids. So, your solution is that those who were responsible, had kids after getting married, and take care of their families should bear the burden of those who do not. If everyone adopts that type of mentality there is less pressure for people to get married and act responsibly by having their families intact (which studies show are better for the adults and the children).

    This is the same type of argument we saw when welfare laws for the unmarried were passed. Everyone said, oh there’s no way women will take on the responsibility of single parenting for $500/month . . . yet here we are and 40-50% of children are born out of marriage and putting a strain on welfare resources.

    In like manner, if people are going to just start adopting instead of having kids, the responsibility for having children decreases because they can just be pawned off on those who will take care of them. The end result will be many more children who are no longer able to be cared for by society at all because no one is there to take care of them.

    This isn’t just me either. If you look back to philosophy on the family you can trace similar arguments stemming from Aristotle and Plato.

    So, suggesting that responsible people (those having children in a manner which is most conducive to the parents’ and children’s welfare no matter the number of children) should take over for the irresponsible people is to encourage bad social policy which will have the opposite effect that it is meant to have.

    As I said, I have family members who are adopted. I think that is great that is a wonderful thing, because the responsible parents who could not have children on their own took responsibility for other children. However, their actions did not put an onus on the general population to adopt rather than have additional children and so it does not have the same detrimental effect that the wholesale adoption of adoption before or in lieu of procreation argument would have.

  188. very moved by the idea of breastfeeding as a rest. i am always anxious about my older child when nursing, but now i will look at the time differently! thanks!

  189. christina says:

    We have 4, we were done after our third, I was told no more babies, I had gastric bypass and felt hprrid for nearly a month, my Dr and i both thpught it was an issue with my surgery, and sent me for an endoscope, they ran a pregnancy test, and low and behold it wasnt my stomach causing trouble it was below that in the uterus. at that time we had boys from ages 14-7 , our youngest was born at 27 weeks, in the NICU 2 months, and now is a happy healthy 8 year old. while my kids were a bit leary with a new baby, when i see the interaction with them, i know if something were to happen my eldest would be the best person to care for my son…. My husband is from the Philippines, and we both get the comments, Oh ypur so lucky to have four sons, ( ys we are), they will care for you in old age,( i hope that my children ha the same compassion we taught them towards elderly) hopefully they will find a nice Asian daughter in law for you, ( nothing wrong with me, im not Asian, as long as they are happy, i could care less if they are purple) are you going to try for a girl??? ( no, we cannot have more, but have looked into adopting, and foster care……… and his family thinks we dont have enough kids, on average they have 6+ kids each…… My husbands mom, all 4’9″ of her, had 13 children, all the same father, all living. her eldest daughter, whom is 2 weeks older then my mother, delivered her ypungest brother…… I say if u can have them, handle them, raise thm then it is no ones business, how many kids you have.

  190. Jb April 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm
    I can’t not comment on this. I was an only child and I was fine. Never lonely and surrounded by people, cousins, friends, parents, love. How dare you.
    And don’t even get me started on homeschooling.
    And in what is proven by lack of resources to be an overpopulated planet, whether or not your children are, “loving” (because they clearly will be extremely judgmental) they will still be a burden.

    “I can’t comment on this.” But then you do.
    “How dare you.” What, talk about how she enjoys her family and how it works for her.
    “lack of resources”-It’s called economics. Supply and demand. The goal is to produce more than you consume. Almost anyone can do it. Most don’t. It doesn’t matter how many people there are. It matters how productive they are.
    “Overpopulated planet”-assumptions anyone?
    “they will obviously be very judgmental”-Making claims against the children of one you do not know seems ridiculous. Do you think that they might be as judgmental as one who judges the children of someone they don’t know? It’s called ‘projection.’ Casting ones feelings, emotions, motives, etc. upon another.
    “they will still be a burden.”- If they were yours, I’m sure they would be. If they are her’s, they are a blessing. Why? Because she says they will be.

    I truly hope that you lose your only-child, self-centered, children are a burden, viewpoint before you go and have children of your own.

  191. I have 5 kids and understand! My favorite is when I take my kids out to the store, park, doctors office, etc… people say,” wow, you have your hands full.” Really, You can’t think of anything else to say. My oldest is 11 and only once did this nice lady tell me I was blessed. I feel blessed and my kids are happy and want my husband and I to have more kids.

  192. Obviously some of the readers are publicly educated with attention deficit disorders:
    Heather: Home Schooling means you are home with your children.
    Saskia: Nice thoughts but a very, very lonely deathbed or old folks home, maybe the nurses will come to visit you.
    I know of no family with 5 or more kids that are not the most well balanced, loving and kind family you would ever meet. That includes my friend Cathy- Ten at last count and absolutely the happiest person I know.

  193. I am the mother of 12 children, and of course I agree with everyone with large families who have made comments. My husband and I have endured all the negativity stated on this thread, and more. We are very happy with our children…all are “A” students in school, are active in their church, the older boys are Eagle Scouts (or are working on it), and they contribute to society in a positive manner. One lady(a stranger) was astonished when her young son fell while walking down the sidewalk and my 15 yr old son rushed to pick him up and dust him off. These are the things my children have learned from being older siblings. They grow up learning how to care for others, and don’t resent it. Yes, they don’t get everything they want in life, nor would I want them to, even if I could afford it. I turned down a free x-box because I didn’t want it in my home. The kids get cell phones when they are old enough to be alone away from home, not because “everyone else” has them. My 15 yr old even said to me one day, “I’m glad I don’t have everything I want, because I’m already too full of myself–I would be even worse if I were rich.” My husband is a school teacher, and I mostly am a stay-at-home mom. I do teach music lessons after school in a non-profit organization we began. It doesn’t make sense to most people that we can afford all these kids, but somehow it happens. We do not receive any government assistance. My kids are very happy. We are the only homeowners in a low-income area of town, with many impoverished and battered children and families. We chose to buy our house there. My large family is taught to serve humanity, beginning with our neighborhood. Anyone who has told us that we acted irresponsibly by bringing all these children into the world to drain its resources does not know what they are talking about. When the Lord sees fit to not send us any more biological children, we intend to adopt a family that would be broken up otherwise. I look forward to that day.

  194. As the youngest of 7, I love big families. Granted, there can be issues. My husband is an only child and he’s scared of the issues he has witnessed in my family. He didn’t mind growing up as an only child. So we’re having a bit of a time figuring out how many kids we want altogether. I’d love 5, he’d like to stop at 2. Maybe I can convince him 3 is good. And, sadly, we didn’t get married until our mid/late 20′s, so we lost a few good years of child-bearing. I’ll be turning 28 this year, but we may not start for another couple of years. 5 kids in 10-isg years seems a little daunting. In any case, I’m so happy for your growing family! Big families are great when the parents really care about their kids and how they’re raised. Plus you get free or cheap babysitting as the older ones get more responsible ;-) Have as many as you feel you can responsibly handle!!

  195. i think if you have the financial resources to take care of and raise a big family then great for you :-) … if you don’t have enough money to pay for all the kids then i don’t think those people should be having lots of kids. sounds like the writer has the ability to take care of the kids financially without government support. But, if you look at this from the perspective of our genetic programming, clans once raised all the kids. there was the birth parents but the entire day the little kids spent together and the appropriate clan people ( old, new moms, about to be moms, nursing moms) cared for the babies and toddlers, the older children went out the men or women ( based on gender ) so the children actually got more attention from all the adults around them. it wasn’t just two parents , one stay at home parent and a working dad or two working parents. i think a poly family with multiple adults actually allows for large families and all the children receiving enough attention. Alas, societies sense of mis placed morality is in the way of such a logical family model.

  196. I couldn’t agree with this article more!! We are expecting out 10th baby in May!

  197. Shellee says:

    As someone that went through infertility treatments 20 years ago and has been told WAY TOO many times that I “couldn’t have anymore children”… I am more than thrilled to be expecting my 5th child. Yes, it was extremely unexpected… some of the best blessings in my life have been unplanned! I have 2 teenagers, a 6 year old, a 2 year old (with Spina Bifida) and am due in July. I don’t just love my children, I genuinely LIKE my children. Having children does help me stay young. It teaches my older children how to care for younger children and how hard it would be to be a single person with a baby (my husband and I have been married 18 years but they see how hard it is to care for everyone when my husband has to work overtime.) and they learn to be part of our “team”.
    I was adopted, so I’m not against adoption. I think that adopting is a matter of faith, prayer and listening. I am one of 4 children that my parents adopted and, yes, we are all different… but we are all part of the same family. Sometimes, adoption is not an official title… you can “adopt” the little boy up the street that has an unstable life. You can “adopt” the teenager that comes to your home because no one is at his home. Many teens have come through my doors and have had to do chores if they are staying for dinner. You can be a parent to anyone at anytime.
    Our #5 is welcome and we are excited. Nothing anyone says will take that away.

  198. I think the same people who worry about this stuff have too much time on their hands. Humanity over all is a scourge on the planet, so what’s one more at this point? If this bothers someone, perhaps they should live alone, naked in the woods, eating only raw vegan food they grow themselves, buying nothing, and walking everywhere. Living in the “developed world” forces you to make terrible decisions everyday…and bringing yet another consumer into this world perhaps isn’t the best decision…but it’s still their decision to make. People need to mind their own fucking business and live the best you can with the most empathy for the world around you as possible. The earth as we know it is doomed, but the planet will be fine. A vast majority of everything that has ever lived has already gone extinct. We will someday too. The planet will keep chugging along whether we do nothing or something.

  199. Renivee says:

    Thank you for your post. I’m so glad to see I’m not the only mom trying to juggle so many things including children. How do you homeschool and work? I only have 3, DH just bought a clinic and I manage it. I’ve got my 6YO in public school, which I hate since he’s so far ahead of the curve. (reading at 3rd grade level, bilingual, egyptologist) but I just don’t know how I could HS him right now, I’ve got a preschooler too. Any insights would be greatly appreciated.

    As for the haters, live and let live people. You’re worried about the impact on the environment? How do you know she doesn’t have a zero waste home? Most likely she doesn’t, but it’s not up to you or anyone else to judge someone. As for homeschooling, I can only show you what a year of homeschooling has done to my son and he’s no genius. He’s bored in his public school 1st grade class, he knows about dictators and different types of government, wormholes in the universe, the environment, he loves learning cognates and roots of words and speaks 2 languages, learning his 3rd. He plays tball, swims, has art classes and drama, so please don’t tell me he needs socializing. Go learn about homeschooling before you give a canned answer. It may have been “weird” in the past, but it no longer is the case. Those cool people who take a year off and go travel with their kids, what do you think they do?? Don’t bag on something you haven’t tried yourself or know hardly anything about.

  200. Margot Little says:

    This is fantastic. I love children and my husband have four ourselves. What blessings they are to us and the people who know and teach them. I’ve also always seen them as future contibuters to siciety at least as tax payers and thought it incredibly rude for people to think otherwise. So rude in fact that if I thought someone hated kids that much they were worth avoiding without making excuses. Our generation has allowed ourselves to be so selfish that some of us automatically think the worst of others. Lonely life for them.

  201. Veronica R. Pearson says:

    If I was married I would b having my babies & would not care what anyone’s opinions wuld be! Enjoy God’s gifts!

  202. Smart girl – another 7 (or 18!) years of not working. I’m sorry people judge you for having another child you can afford, but please stop preaching the beatitudes of the stay at home mom. I am sure you have lovely children but honestly, you can’t be surprised at the reaction.

  203. I am always encouraged by these stories of big, happy healthy loving families. My parents were the youngest of 5 and of 6, but were only able to have one themselves, and I have married another only child. After 11 years, we were finally blessed with a little girl. Unfortunately due to problems with her heart & lungs she passed away at 26 months, but even in such a short time she touched many lives. We have chosen not to pursue adoption for a number of reasons including poor health, but I will always be “Amy’s Mom.” To you and all the other large families, thank you for doing what we could not. Some of us are cheering you on! Love, peace & blessings to you.

  204. My wife and I decided early on to allow God to decide our family size. Who are we to make that call? If we are to live surrendered lives, that includes our sex lives and family size. God is bigger than our concerns and is searching for people whose hearts are in complete surrender. We are not Catholic, Mormon or Muslim.

  205. Mark M. says:

    You my dear, define what it means to be open to life.
    You give me great hope for the future, proving that there are still people out there who do not feel that they are being, ” punished with a baby”, unlike our most famous politician.
    Our babies are miracles and gifts. Bless you. – MM

  206. Congratulations on your 5th, We have 16 kids 9 boys and 7 girls and #17 due 10-26-13, keep your chin up. ((Hugs))
    Chrisi Mom to 16 kids, #17 on the way, not done yet!
    LOL Not Done Yet :)

  207. In response to the concern a few comments above about the environmental impact post-childhood – I think you have a good point, but I think it’s better to encourage any children growing up to be the next generation to think outside of the box about their footprint (whether they have one sibling or eight).

    Each of those adults will need a home – but it need not be a McMansion. Each of those adults will need clothes – but they do not need closets filled with brand new clothes every season, why not stick with second hand and handmedowns as much as possible. Each of those adults might need a car – or they might become avid bicyclists and love public transport. Each of those adults might need disposable plastic products or they could be encouraged from childhood to see the benefit and utility of reusable, sustainable products. Remember that people consuming some amount of new goods is what drives our economy – if we suddenly had a large population gap who would buy those cars, homes, appliances, etc. that provide work and a living for others?

    Just a different way to look at the “problem” of large family children becoming adults.

  208. delightful post sad that those of us who belive in great things often have such opposition (people and unkind comments or “help??” can be like trying to swim against the current. I hope my post will encourage you http://merryheart4u.bettylframe.com/?p=7

  209. 7 Billion people on earth more than Rats and they are a problem wake up .Selfish asses

  210. reality says:

    Within reason, It doesn’t matter how many kids you have. But, if you’re raising them to be standard suburbanite you are adding to the huge burden already on the biosphere.

    The U.S. is the only developed country that is still growing today, because the U.S. is full of individualistic consumers that believe their opulent affluence is somehow warranted.

    Maybe all of you big family people are raising your children to be carbon neutral, but based on the standard narratives that are being appealed to here it reads much more like a gaggle of upper income egomaniacs obsessed with their own pointless legacies.

    Think hard about what sort of world your kids are going to experience, because it won’t be the “cheap oil and cheap food” one that you did.

  211. Lord Howard of Wolowitz says:

    “I want less stuff. I keep thinking, if we had fewer kids and more disposable income, what would I do with it? Drive a fancier car, live in a bigger house? I don’t want a fancier car and I certainly don’t want to clean or care for a bigger house.”

    This is a pretty poor excuse to have more kids. If you had more “disposable income,” you could put that money in to college education funds, be able to travel more and give your children a broader world experience, or you could just donate to charity.

  212. Jessica Fluckiger says:

    All I can say is thank you to the author, for her concise and wise words. As a mother of several children, I agree wholeheartedly, and feel grateful to other parents, no matter how many children they have, who are raising their children to be loving and responsible people. Our children will change the world, one family at a time.

    And to those who posted negative comments, how sad that you feel like you need to try to destroy the happiness that the author has found in raising a family. Just as you do not want to be judged for your choices, do not judge her for hers.

  213. Kristina says:

    Thank you for your thoughts on this subject. I have three children but have recently considered more and the 2 times I mentioned the idea to someone it was as astonishing to them as you experienced from your acquaintances. I love the amazing experiences I have with my kids! Everything is bright and new in their eyes and I get to see things like it’s the first time all the time. No boredom here! Glad to know there are other educated women who value children.

  214. The key to having any number of children is to be absolutely certain that you have enough money, living space, energy, and desire to deal with parenting issues. For some people, one’s enough; for others, even one’s too many.

    But, in general, any number over 2 generally makes people wonder about any and all of the above.

  215. I’m confused. Are you not working at the moment? Goodness, what does your husband do? If you are working, who, pray tell, is homeschooling your children? Your husband? I suppose that is possible with your M.D. income… Or, are you hiring out for this luxury?
    I always felt sorry for those with so many siblings that they could not participate in any activities, due to lack of resources. Your “holier than thou” attitude that having one child is somehow inferior is really disappointing. Scientific studies prove that, actually, your suppositions are false. “Only” children tend to actually be more generous, less selfish (perhaps because they didn’t have to fight so hard for those limited resources), and closer to their parents. As a doctor (indicated by your signing with an “M.D.”), I do hope you would believe well-executed scientific studies.

  216. Ivona, only folks who come from the worldly modern thinking feel the way you do. We live on a farm and many of our family and friends are Mennonite. In general the feel sorry for outsiders who have such small families. I remember having a conversation with my dear friend wondering how a Christmas family gathering must look when only one child comes home to visit… or what it must be like to have no siblings, a very lonely existence. A friend we met has a nine year old only child. He is very protective of his “things” and has no patience with little ones. I find this sad and put a lot of light on why folks find it so easy to think only of themselves, never had to care for anyone else.

  217. “Quiver full of arrows” made me puke a bit. Most importantly: Congratulations!

  218. AZNativeGrandma says:

    God’s design and plan is perfect! The only one who is dead set against people is the devil…the root of the environmentalist/communists is ungodly. May God bless every family who adheres to God’s plan. Nothing better than a full quiver!

  219. Elinor Dashwood says:

    Five is a GREAT number. We had four boys and then were surprised with a girl. I hear you about obnoxious comments: several people, seeing our daughter, said RIGHT IN FRONT OF ALL THE BOYS, “Are you going to stop now that you have a girl?” Just as if we’d struck out three times and finally gotten the one we wanted. I always answered, “Oh, no, I’m sure she would love to have some sisters.” They never came, as it happened, but the comeback sure silenced the kibbitzers.

  220. @Ivona
    FWIW, if you just read the prior article before you posted, then still felt compelled to write what you wrote, I truly feel sorry for you. We can all chip in for a one-way ticket back to the soviet union for you…it surely would brighten your day ;-)

  221. My wife and I have 5 children, too. We’ve had many of the questions you listed in your post: often from total strangers! We haven’t got the carbon footprint comment, but friends of ours have. But you’re right: children are the best hope for a better society and a better future. It is the responsibility of the rest of us, adults, to recognize that and to give the children on this earth the best opportunities for growth and learning available.

    The best advice for people who want to have children as soon as they have “enough [whatever]“–time, money, education, etc.–fuggedaboutit! If you wait until everything is “just right,” you may never have children. What’s more important is that you trust in Divine Providence, and in yourself, to be able to care for and teach the children you do have.

  222. Ronald Dixon says:

    I AM THE GRANDFATHER TO 11 GRANDSON’S AND 11 GRANDDAUGHTER’S, PLUS 1 GREAT GRANDSON AND 4 GREAT GRANDDAUGHTERS WITH 3 MORE GREAT GRANDCHILDREN ON THE WAY!

    I HAVE 1 STEPDAUGHTER AND 3 STEPSON’S. NONE OF MY OWN AND THERE ISN’T ANYTHING THAT THIS WORLD COULD GIVE ME TO GIVE-UP ANY ONE OF THESE KIDS! GOD LOVES ME BECAUSE I DON’T DESERVE SUCH RICHES!!!!!!

  223. Life is a gift from God – thank you for allowing His “blessings” & rejoicing in them!

  224. Bravo! I am the mother of 4 young kids and I feel the same way about children. My husband and I have devoted our love, time, and resources on our children and we are so happy with the returns. Children from happy, stable, and loving homes are such a blessing to society. Conscientious parents who are willing to do this should be honored in our society for the amazing contribution they are making.

  225. Jessica says:

    THANK YOU FOR THIS!!! I’m pregnant with number 5 and my husband is just starting his last year of residency! People think we’re CRAZY but we’ve been able to provide for and nurture our children through med school and residency :) looking forward to a better income in a year or so though but we are grateful we have our children. we learn so much from them and they are truly a blessing. I needed this article after all the looks I keep receiving from random people.

  226. You should absolutely have to justify a 5th child. It’s socially irresponsible to have so many children. The world doesn’t need your offspring. There is a global overpopulation problem.

  227. Love all 6 of my children. They are my life. Can’t imagine life without them! I used to asked “Are they all YOURS?” (when we travelled all together to the grocery store) I wanted to reply “yes, but they all have different fathers” hee hee Never had the nerve to say it. I wear a necklace now with 6 children on it and still get comments usually good. When I see big families now I try to offer encouragement and tell them it’s’ great!

  228. Congratulations! What an amazing contribution, we also have 5 children (4boys, 1 girl). You are doing something great for your children by teaching them how to share and get along. Best wishes for this baby and any others you are blessed to have.

  229. As the mother of five amazing adults, I can relate to all of the questions. The questions that took the cake were ” Do you have a degree?” I replied yes and then she said,” How do you feel wasting your education?” My response was that I use my education every day and after I raise my children I will embark on another “adventure”! We were blessed with 3 boys then a girl and then another boy. Growing up I told my mom that I was going to have four boys. My husband and I prayed for a girl after the first 3 boys and we were blessed with our daughter, then another son. I am writing an ebook to share many of the things I learned raising these amazing kids! Five is a great #!

  230. Well said! Good for you! May God bless you and your family.

  231. As long as you can support you children without government assistance, have as many as you like.

  232. Frau Rosen says:

    @Rachel C: if you read my comment, you’d see that I said we have purposefully limited our family to one child and so no, we have not adopted any. I consider my child my “miracle baby” and I don’t take him for granted. I know my own limits: I have a chronic, potentially life-threatening disease, our son has health issues/special needs of his own, and we are financially unable to have any more kids, so we are happy and blessed to be a family of three. I never said I would deny any woman the chance to have her own biological child—I said if you want any more than one (or 4, for that matter!!), to think about adopting. Kudos to you for adopting—I hope you are raising your children to be kind and accepting of others whose opinions may differ from theirs.

  233. Don’t have kids because they will use too much plastic in the future. Hahaha. Seriously?
    I’m one of six. We’re all adults in our 20s and 30s. And as much as they drive me crazy sometimes I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    We need more happy homes like this one.

  234. fifthontheway says:

    Thank you for the beautiful article. Coming from a family of 2 children, I totally understand why people choose to have small families. My parents were able to give me the world. Trouble was, I just wanted siblings. My husband and I hoped for three children, but #3 brought #4 with him. Half way through my pregnancy, a doctor actually suggested “eliminating” one of them because of the burden he thought twins would place on our family. I feel for people who might be swayed by all of the popular justification for that course of action. Fortunately, it was never a question for us. Our children & the way they came was the greatest blessing we never could have planned. It HAS been difficult, but raising them is the best thing we’ll ever do & by far the greatest contribution the two of us (both with advanced degrees and plenty of other accolades) will EVER make to society.
    As part of a “large” family, our children are gaining vital skills that may be hard to develop any other way. Furthermore, the twins are both stunningly intelligent (esp. “Baby B” who the doctor saw as disposable). Already it is clear that they will make unique contributions to the world. Sadly, our family is not valued by popular society. We work hard & sacrifice additional income/luxuries. Yet, we are considered “odd”, “foolish”, etc. Well-meaning acquaintances have inquired why I would leave my career (and thus terminate my “contribution” to society). Few people see what a great contribution we are making. Big families are not for everyone, and natural resources are definitely a concern. But the author’s handling of population issues are spot-on & I believe we’re throwing the “baby out with the bathwater” when we undervalue one of our greatest resources… humans and the ingenuity they bring.

  235. I come from a family of 9, and one of my close friends comes from a family of 13. We can’t imagine our lives without our siblings. I know that if it weren’t for my brothers and sisters (especially my closest older sister), I would be a terrible person, very depressed and lonely.

  236. Thank you for writing this down so clearly: our thoughts exactly. Raising five of our own has been a wonderful experience, and we don’t regret any part of it. They are now 25, 22, 20, 17 & 10. We are blessed.

  237. When pregnant with twins (#5 &#6), a friend commented “Don’t ya’ll know what’s causing that?” I replied, “Ray, I really don’t believe you want to discuss my sex life.” That put the quietus on any further remarks from him!

  238. What a fun article! Brought back fond memories! I have 8 children, and I have heard all of those comments, but I really didn’t care. We all have choice. I’ll respect your right to make yours, and you should also respect my right to make mine. We have paid our own way through life, and taught our children to work hard in school to earn scholarships for college…and they also work to put themselves through school. Not only do they get attention from their parents…but they get attention from each of their siblings…so it is not 2 to 1 attention time, but 9 to 1! If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing! I LOVE MY FAMILY!!!

  239. I absolutely love your post! I can’t tell you how many times loving on my children has kept me from being too self-absorbed. Every one of your reasons were spot on. Thanks for sharing! We have nine and I recently wrote a post entitled How many Children is Too Many Children?

    http://lifefullyloaded.com/2013/03/11/how-many-children-is-too-many-children/

    Jamie Irwin
    lifefullyloaded.com

  240. Of all the people that have accomplished great things, how many came from big families? How often do you hear “I was one of eight” or “I had ten brothers and sisters?”

    I think you learn things in big families that you usually don’t learn any other way.

    I have five, by the way.

  241. We are expecting number eight! So, I get where you are coming from. We get all those zingers, too. Everyone thinks they are so original. UGH!

    But, what can we do? Just live our lives the best we know how, to love our family, to enjoy ourselves and to (in the long run) prove everyone wrong. :-)

  242. Joan Brayton says:

    I, too, have experienced unkind remarks about my family. I have 6 children and the last one was born when I was 39 1/2. People looked at me funny and when my husband and I shopped with the little guy people would compliment my cute grandchild. One neighbor shouted across a couple of isles of food in the grocery store and asked if I was done having babies yet. I told her I didn’t know and reminded her that Sarah was 99 when Isaac was born. I felt like saying it was none of her business which, of course, it wasn’t. Even the nurses in the dr.’s office asked me why I wanted more children at my age. The dr., though, was very understanding. I would have grown old fast if it weren’t for my children. As a result of wanting to be home for them, I started a daycare business in my home so I could be here when my children needed me or if they couldn’t go to school. I took all school vacations off and we had great fun on those days. I have learned important life lessons that I never could have learned without my children and my children learned the important lesson of getting along with people who seriously irritated them (their siblings). I told them that if they could learn to get along with the people under their own roof they would be able to get along with anybody. I will never question the number of children a couple chooses to have. It is a very personal and private decision that should be left to them.

  243. I like how your 4-year-old thinks! I heard some of those with my 3rd child. I tell people all of my kid were planned, not by us, but by God! Congratulations!

  244. Kim Milner says:

    In my opinion, you should be able to have as many as you can afford to send to college.

  245. Kelly Pittman says:

    Wonderful perspective! I wanted to say that the doctor that delivered me was a Berchelmann, his brother was my dentist and his nephew is now my dentist in San Antonio, TX. I wonder if y’all are related?

  246. I agree 100%. May God bless you. Hubby and I have seven.

  247. Sony Dalmacy says:

    My wife and I just have our fifth child two months ago in a difficult condition. As immigrant and not in good shape financially,we were advised to abort the fetus, but as christian we refused because we are convinced that children are God gifts. And you know what . Our view of kids is similar to yours. On March 24th 2013, I was one of the speakers at a wedding, I was encouraging the couple to have children and I said to the audience” I have 5 kids (10, 9, 8 years old, a 19 month old and the younger is one month old . I see them as God’s blessings. My kids are happy and my wife and I are happy too. All the audience was astonished when they heard that. And they kept murmuring ” how come someone can be happy with 5 kids?” .I was listening to you on Chris Fabry live this afternoon. I feel full of courage and energy to continue my journey witch is and when I got home I shared with my lovely wife what I heard and we have read together your blog too. We are fortunate, blessed and happy God makes us the guardian of 4 boys and one girl.. may God keeps on pouring His blessing on your Family Doctor Kathleen. Thank you for words. I think they are inspired by God.

  248. Ben Roberts says:

    Dr. Bertelsmann, what a wonderful article! Thank you for your defense of large families. It makes me happy to read articles like this.
    -3rd of 6-

  249. I read several comments and I can still hear the masses trying to tell you what is the “right” amount of children to have. It makes me chuckle. When I had one – everyone rejoiced. When I had two – they said “That’s great – one for each parent to watch.” When I had three – they paused and said, “Well, they can all fit in the back seat of your sedan, so that’s ok.” When I had four, they swallowed hard and said, “Well – ok – one child for each hand of each parent.” When we had five however … they scratched their heads in wonder. It still makes me chuckle. Be blessed mom – have as many as you’d like. With your healthy outlook, you’re bound to have children who will bless the world around them and we need those sorts of lights in this world. I’m about to attend the highschool graduation of my fifth child. We never went to Disneyland. We didn’t have an annual vacation. They wore out dated hand me downs, and sometimes ate PB&J a few time a week. But honestly, I’m as proud as I can be with the exemplary men and women my children have become. They work hard and love fiercely. I wouldn’t have changed a thing – not one thing. Have your babies, mom and enjoy!

  250. Children are a gift from God. When you plot and plan too much to be absolutely perfectly ready for them, you are not ready at all. You see them in terms of $$. Shame on you and anyone who points that out. Ask any mother of a large family—they will tell you that you grow into the role. The family love grows with each child. Children welcome siblings beautifully!

  251. Congrats on #5. I think the number of kids you have is a personal choice, and sometimes just meant to be. My aunt had 9 kids, my mom had 2, I have 3 and a stepson. My third was a surprise but very much meant to be. Around my town it seems most have 3, sometimes 4 kids. I really can’t say much about the amount of work a certain number of kids are since my middle child is nonverbal autistic with lots of issues. All my kids are blessings and I love each one of them and the gifts they give me. Each makes me a better person.

  252. Southern Mama says:

    We’ve been married for two years and just had our first, but we’re excited to meet any other children God gives us when He sends them. Thank you for this.

  253. BusyMomofOne says:

    We can’t really afford to have continued growth, or even to maintain replacement rate, unless we all learn to consume *considerably, considerably* less of everything. Our family of 3 (two adults and one child) already consumes less than most we know, but we’re not willing to consume little enough to be able to justify having another child. It is true that my child says she’d like a sibling, but she’s now 6 and I feel it’s a bit late to be having another for the purpose of providing companionship. My brother is 5 years older than me, and frankly, we hated each other growing up. We’re still not close, AT ALL. It’s possible the situation would have been the same no matter how far apart we were.
    As for going outside, I have rarely gone outside with my child in all the years I’ve had her, and I don’t anticipate that changing. We’re both extremely fair and heat sensitive. I hate going outdoors unless it’s the coldest part of winter. Then I am all about going outside.
    I try to pretend to be interested in whatever my daughter is drawing, but the fact is, I am bored out of my mind most of the time and I’m pretty sure she knows it. This article makes me feel like the worst mom in the world for being unable to savor the time I have with my one child. I have a temper and it’s a lot of work to control it with just my daughter. If I had another, I would be an ogre.

  254. That is a great story and a lot of truth. Many people feel that we should stop at 1 or 2. Granted I am a mother of 6 currently. We don’t try to get any popularity from it. We work hard for a living. I work from home and my husband of 13 years works for the government. We support our kids fully. They have everything that they need. We home school our kids although only 3 are old enough. Children bring a lot of fun and excitement into our lives and we wouldn’t change a thing. Have as many as you want to have, don’t let anyone detour you from that. I don’t necessarily approve of the huge families that live off the government but as long as you can support them go for it. We do.

  255. Sarah D. says:

    AMEN! You said it all, perfectly! I’m not yet to the point where I find fingerprints on my mirror endearing, however. Still need to work on my patience with a messier home! Or be more disciplined & better manage my time so I have to the time to take care of it. Or maybe a little bit of both.

  256. My favorite response to snarky comments about having too many kids is “Which one of them would you eliminate?”

  257. Hopefully you also get positive comments too. I was juggling all five of mine in line at the end of a long day at Disneyland when the sweet lady behind me said, “I know it might seem a bit much right now, but your children will be so grateful you have such a big family. I’m so grateful for the five I raised. You’re doing good work”. Later that night a Disneyland worker came over and asked how everyone was doing and that she was the mother of six. She made sure each of my children were happy in that moment. Yes, it’s crazy and sometimes a bit overwhelming, but when I heard my oldest daughter tell a friend who was shocked she didn’t have her own room come back with “It’s good for me to share a room because I’m learning cooperation and patience” I know we’re on the right track. Society could use more people with patience and cooperation.

  258. Karyn Herrmann says:

    Thanks for the reminder of how much fun I had with my two boys and one girl, now 30, 25, and 20. Taking them to their sports, music lessons, dance classes, and listening to the one and only children’s radio station on the car radio. When I heard the number one recorder of children’s music was Raffi, I said, “who’s Raffi?” And going to The Children’s Theater and seeing the wonder and awe on their faces was indeed ‘priceless’. Memories for a lifetime!

  259. I personally would never try for five children, but those with the means to support them should be able to without public backlash. Ironically, I have been targeted by husbands religious ( Mormon & Catholic) friends for our small family- Dad, Mom, Son, and (someday baby). “I can’t believe she didn’t bunch her children like us!” What a selfish soul she must be”.

    My only curiosity is college tuition. How in the world can you afford to put 5 children through a four-year state school? My parents, two working class individuals, struggled to put my two siblings and I through college. One must be very well of to afford that.

  260. Richard Boswell says:

    We have already reached the point of no return. In fifty years we will not only be the minority, we will probably be persecuted.
    Thank you for your great love!! It is rare

  261. Jessica Knapp says:

    Thank you for your post. As the oldest of five kids and a mom (of two right now, but we hope for more), I can’t really imagine life without my large family. My siblings are a huge joy in my life, we live all over, but have cell phone plans that let us talk to each other, live laugh and love together. When we get together it is an awesome experience (next week four of the five of us will be with my parents and grandparents to hang out…I can’t wait). I am sorry that some people are so ignorant in their comments, I applaud you for being able to move past that and enjoy your family! Five is an awesome number of kids ;-)

  262. Dr. Timothy J. Williams says:

    God bless you! My wife and I have nine beautiful children. We never regretted giving up material possessions to have a big family. And as for all the fools who think big families “use up too many resources,” well, we buy nothing new and throw away nothing old. We are the original recyclers.

  263. Janice Hill says:

    My husband and I have 7 children. Our 2 youngest got married last year. We also heard all those rude comments and questions. In fact there were women who hated me because I was able to get pregnant so easily. We now have 10 grandchildren and one on the way. I can’t tell you how much fun it is when they come over. Yes children are hard sometimes but the rewards are so great. I wouldn’t change anything. I just wish more people had the same attitude when it comes to children. My husband and I will never be alone or lonely. There will always be someone there who is excited to see us. I thank God every day for my children and grandchildren.

  264. I really love this post! I completely agree! I only have one and another on the way… people already think I’m crazy. I never like children until I had my own and now I think all children are so precious. They bring so much fulfillment into my life.

  265. Congratulations!
    We have five … my father came from a family of 17! We have been so brain washed about children … they are a gift from God … He has a plan! Ours range from 46 to 19! Four C-sections and surgery to remove a cyst the size of a grapefruit and an ovary, when I was almost two months pregnant with my third child, so I have been cut up and down, in the same place five times and conceived with one ovary! The last two pregnancies, I was told I was too old and needed an abortion … I was 39 and 45. Guess what? I am healthy and alive at 65, with grandchildren and a great grandchild! Our children are five to seven years apart… it’s just the way it happened! Life is good! See my pic at http://www.GreenPlusMore.com And by the way, I don’t color my hair! Love this post …. thank you!

  266. My problem with this article is the implying that people without children are everything she claims having children have taught her to not be. Self centered, selfish, lazy and so on.
    As a single 30 yr old with no children and no plans to, isnt it better for those who chose not to have them to truly not have them than to have them resentfully or do so out of societal pressure and then who gets the raw end of that stick? The child.
    Single people who choose not to have children, believe it or not do contribute to society, to the world and are not selfish and self centered , lazy people or of less worth, as this lady seems to imply.
    Tired of women with children acting like they’re saving the world when in reality, many of them lacking the parenting, financial and temporal skills necessary for such a job, are doing quite the opposite.
    I come from a place where girls are having kids left and right because they’re taught to do so in their religion and have no clue in the situation and end up with 5 or 6 kids by the time they’re in their 30′s and take little to no responsibility for it all. They’re on all kinds of coping medications and again, who is taking the brunt of all this. The children and who ends up having the raise the children because the parents arent doing it. Society.
    If you cant handle the job, are not up for the task, dont have the mental, emotional, financial capability for it then please, DO NOT DO IT.

  267. My problem with this article is the implying that people without children are everything she claims having children have taught her to not be. Self centered, selfish, lazy and so on.
    As a single 30 yr old with no children and no plans to, isnt it better for those who chose not to have them to truly not have them than to have them resentfully or do so out of societal pressure and then who gets the raw end of that stick? The child.
    Single people who choose not to have children, believe it or not do contribute to society, to the world and are not selfish and self centered , lazy people or of less worth, as this lady seems to imply.
    Tired of women with children acting like they’re saving the world when in reality, many of them lacking the parenting, financial and temporal skills necessary for such a job, are doing quite the opposite.
    I come from a place where girls are having kids left and right because they’re taught to do so in their religion and have no clue in the situation and end up with 5 or 6 kids by the time they’re in their 30′s and take little to no responsibility for it all. They’re on all kinds of coping medications and again, who is taking the brunt of all this. The children and who ends up having the raise the children because the parents arent doing it. Society.
    If you cant handle the job, are not up for the task, dont have the mental, emotional, financial capability for it then please, DO NOT DO IT.
    And the comment of your kids keeping you young and joyful, please spare me. Most if not all Moms I know rarely if ever feel this way. Its a full time job. Im not saying there arent great moments that they wouldnt trade for anything, but to tout that your kids keep you young and joyful is pathetic. Most Moms I know are typically at their wits end day in and out. At least be honest about that, please.

  268. I loved this article, thank you. My only issue is that in response to people asking if you were able to give them each enough attention, you said that “Because we homeschool , our kids get plenty of individual attention every day.” I’m sure that’s true, but it would also be possible to give them the attention they need even if they attended public school. I am the second of six kids, never home-schooled, and I never felt like I wasn’t getting enough attention from my parents. Frankly, I was much too busy playing with my siblings to care if I was getting attention from my parents! My siblings were, and still are, my best friends. I had a wonderful childhood.
    Also, to the people saying things like “you should only have as many kids as you can send to college” and “how can you possible pay for their college education,” guess what? My parents had enough for their oldest child’s freshman year of college. That’s it. So the rest of us worked hard in high school, got scholarships, and then worked part-time in college to support ourselves the rest of the way. I got a bachelor’s degree by paying MY OWN way through college. It would be great if every parent could pay for every child’s college education, but it is not always possible. I learned to be self-sufficient at a young age, learned how to manage my money, and learned how to accomplish hard things by paying my own way through college. My parents were always willing and able to lend a couple hundred dollars if I was short at the end of the month, and I’m proud to say it only happened a couple times. Whether or not you can pay for their college is not a determining factor when deciding how many kids to have. That is just silly.

  269. I’m from a family of 6 kids, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love love love my big family and couldn’t imagine having less siblings. Sure we fought and called names but now we are all best friends. Thanks to my parents I have learned so many lessons from a big family. Now that I have started my family I wonder how many I’ll have. 4 at LEAST.

  270. Wendy Brown says:

    I have 4 children, and I wish I could have had more. I love my children so much, and they have been my greatest joy. As far as being able to send them to college, my kids have put themselves through college, paid for their own cars, and paid back their school loans. The oldest 2 have bachelors degrees and one of them is currently doing her internship as a dietician. They are both married and one of them has 3 children. They are grateful to us that we did not pay their way through college, and they say that all the time. They appreciate their education. They didn’t party and mess around because they were paying for it themselves. They have all had piano lessons and dance. They grew up in a 1330 square foot house with 3 bedrooms. We are a very close loving family. I wouldn’t do it any other way.

  271. Linda H. says:

    What a great article! Though I have yet to have any children of my own, I’ve known several large families & have been incredibly blessed by knowing them. Children ARE a blessing from the Lord, even if those in the world don’t see it that way. One of our friends with a family of 8 often heard this nasty comment: “Don’t you know what causes that?!?” Her response: “Why yes, we’re experts! Would you like some advice?” Perhaps not the most charitable response, but really, what else could you say to a question like that?!? Thanks for believing children are a blessing and for this wonderful article about it!! :-)

  272. I personally can see why some people would say having too many kids can be a burden on society, but I think that it only relates to families that are having tons of kids because they are careless and cannot afford the kids they already have. When you have a woman on welfare who has 4 kids, different fathers and one on the way, yes I agree that’s a burden. However, if parents can afford to care for all their kids without the need for financial assistance, then I am all for big families. That’s not to say that the family should never receive assistance because you never know what can happen in the future, but if you know you can’t afford the kids you have, you should not have more, PERIOD!

    I say congrats to you and your family, I may not know you, but I’m guessing you are one of those that plan ahead, and have made sure that another child fits in your budget and your family! Don’t let the naysayers get you down.

  273. I’m the oldest of five kids and the mom of three (two planned by us; one by God). When my mom died and I was speaking at the funeral the thought ran through my mind that I had never been so glad to be one of five as I was at that moment. I can’t imagine going through losing a parent without siblings with whom to share the loss (and no, my sibs and I aren’t overly close).

    Reading all the comments about needing to have so much money to raise kids just makes me shake my head. Yes, having money is nice, but the reality is you can raise kids for so much less money than society says you need.

  274. I enjoyed your article. Thanks for sharing.

    I come from a family of several siblings, but my husband and I are choosing to have one. This is a carefully considered choice; it’s not because we are selfish people. We know our limitations, and a family of three is perfect for us.

    I love my siblings, but I did not enjoy sibling strife. I have no wish to duplicate that in my family (and sibling strife is a reality of life if more than one child is involved). All of my only-child friends are amazing people and quite unselfish, and we’re raising her with the hope that she’ll turn out like that.

  275. Chrissy Gavin says:

    I love this article! Thank you for standing against all the criticism and helping others see the benefits and blessings of having children!

  276. I don’t have children yet but I thought this was really great. Thank you!

  277. I LOVED this article. And agree with every word wholeheartedly. I have five kids and every minute of every day (even every tought day) know that we have something really special with this big family that others don’t understand. My little two year old brings a smile to my face every day no matter how hard it’s been. And she is spoiled and adored by her four other siblings. Two of my boys are so tight/close that if they go longer than 6 hours without checking in with each other they start to whine. My family has started to take on an identity of its own, we have our own inside jokes, our own way of doing things, our ‘artistic’ personalites. I wouldn’t trade away this experience we are having for all the money or fine houses in the world. No, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it. And YES, we did this on purpose!

  278. Thank you for your thoughtful essay. I like to think my children will be as beneficial to society as they already are to me. Best wishes with your upcoming baby; our fifth has been a complete joy in every way.

  279. Wow, speak you mind it says. Some of you really did, so I really will too. I am always shocked that women have fought for their reproductive rights do not extend that right to women who choose to use those rights to have children. If all of the women who choose abortions would have to do that publicly a lot of thing would change. Because a woman who gives birth to live babies can not do it in secret it is thought to be a public issue, but women who abort a live baby can do so without public knowledge it is a “private right.” Women would be appalled if someone asked, “Why don’t you have children. Did you abort some?” I have come to the conclusion that some women just really don’t want others to be happy with their choice of having children and that might be the biggest issue of all.

  280. Loved this article! A friend sent it to me because I had just written my own (much snarkier) blog post about people’s reactions to expecting #6. ;) I especially loved the point about seeing children as hope for the future, rather than just burdens. Thank you!

  281. Kimberly says:

    Yes, all those comments are all to familiar to me and my husband. We have 8 children and we started getting asked “do you know what causes that?” when I was pregnant with the second. The way the world is misrepresenting over-population, promoting materialism, and making selfishness look like the next best thing to sliced bread, it’s no wonder why there is a very serious problem with our future. It’s ALL our future!! It won’t matter who you are and what you did or didn’t do, everybody will still be affected by the lack of re-population to our society. Caucasians will be very behind in numbers and minorities will be soaring. Although, I have no problem with minorities growing in population, I do have a problem with Caucasians becoming so selfish that they treat abortion like birth control. If that wasn’t tragic enough, those of us with big families are criticized for bringing into this world children who will become productive members of society. I congratulate you on taking on more children and raising them responsibly and lovingly. God will bless you and your entire family. Thank God for husbands who work hard for the family and welcome more children.

  282. My husband and I planned to have 2 children but after having one child we were advised that we shouldn’t have any more. I ended up with some complicated medical issues that only develop during pregnancy. I am honestly tired of people saying “when are you going to have the next one?” and “She needs a sibling!” or “why are you selling your baby stuff?! You’re done?!”

    Since when did my fertility become anyone’s business?!

    Last month we went to the dentist and they said my daughter was a “real cutie” and “when are you going to have another one.” I never know how to answer that question so I said “well not any time soon. We’re planning to adopt so it’ll take a while.” and then the dentist starts asking “why not have another one naturally? I mean this one is soo adorable it would be nice to have more running around that look like that.” and they pushed and prodded until I ended up spilling the whole details about my complicated pregnancy and that we were considering adoption. Then I got the “I’m sorry to hear that”.

    I really don’t care how many children anyone has providing they actually want them and actually care for them properly. I was raised the eldest of 4 kids and, after that experience, I decided it was much better to have fewer children so hubby and I decided to have 2. I do remember some happy moments growing up but I also always felt that my parents had us more because they *should* have kids because it was the thing people did rather than they actually wanted kids.

  283. Love this post as a mom of 7 oh boy !! Can I relate

  284. I love people who have children who love children and who are providing such a great life to them (and in turn a service to this world). You can have 1 million if you want, because they are loved, happy, healthy and getting individual educational attention. It’s people who are not very nurturing who think having children to keep up with the Jones’s that I can’t tolerate. Non-nurturing people who maybe should stay away from having kids in their care is what bothers me. Please, if you’re not sure, just don’t. Not everyone needs kids or should have them. Your family is a shining gem. Enjoy your new addition!

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