Family Size


Many posts on this forum discuss family size in relation to NFP use or ABC use. The common response to questions of size is to pray & try to follow God’s call. While this response is in keeping with the Catholic faith, I would like to examine the more practical and / or subjective human & family issues involved.

To start this thread I consider the following:
My family: Wife & I 47 yrs old. 3 children D-20, S-16, D-11. (all planned)

My siblings: I am #1 of 8, 6 living we have 11 children among us.

My parents: Mid 70’s, Dad # 3 of 14 children 11 still living, Mom # 3 of 9 children 7 still living. They & their siblings have 83 children (my first cousins)

DW is #9 of 9 but neither of her parent come from large families. Her siblings have 22 children.

When we were engaged the Priest asked us if we had talked about children, we said no but both responded that we wanted them. Soon after we had the discussion and my DW said she wanted 6 children, being a negotiator & unsure what I wanted (4 or less) I said 2. Then qualified it by saying start with that and see how we feel and where we go with it. That made sense to her and it was the end of the discussion. We also agreed to wait 3-4 years +/- since we were planning a major move, and a major investment & lifestyle change (farming) in that time frame.

Being the financial part of the relationship, I advocated to space the kid out so that they weren’t in college at the same time which we did. After all, if you are only going to have 2 or 3 whats the rush.

After #3 DW at 37 said she was all done. She no longer wanted 6, 3 was just right.

In our situation, money is not an issue. Since we only have 3 children we can afford to send them to the finest private (Catholic) college’s and they have whatever they need & most of what they want. This is not the way we grew up. We always had what we needed but little of what we wanted!. We worked hard to afford the wants & some of the needs as well as funded much of our own education.

Since the total extended family size is small & our children are considerably older they my sib’s kid & younger then DW’s their is little interaction with them.

In retrospect I think a larger family would have provided many benefits to the children as well as us, the parents!

Starting earlier would have been difficult for us, but not impossible, as would of having more in between…


Both my parents were the oldest of 4.

My mom and dad had 5 of us and then my dad had 2 more with his 2nd wife.

All 5 of us are married. My older brother and his wife lost their first through miscarriage. We are going on #4, My next sis and her DH have 2, Next sis and her DH have 3, baby bro and his wife have 2. All of us are young still…well, maybe not me.

But my parents have 11 living grandchildren (1 in utero), 3 Angel BAbies…with many years to have even more.

None of my siblings are well off financially (and neither are we). My husband and I are able to do Catholic school for now, but if tuition system is put in place, that might change. My siblings aren’t so fortunate as of yet. AS for college…I figure that will work itself out. My parents weren’t able to pay for my college education…and since I wanted one, I got it (an advanced degree even). I figure if my kids want to go for it, there will be a way. We modestly save for each of our children right now.

I think the non-material wealth my children are getting as a result of having each other is priceless…but then, I felt that way about my own siblings growing up…so…go figure!


I don’t have kids yet, but I can give my details anyway. I’m from a family of six (well, six to ten). Four kids spaced two years apart, plus my parents, grandparents, and two cousins who were in the middle of our age range. For us, we tended to separate into two groups - the older two (or three) and the younger two (or three). I always loved having a large family, with lots of people to spend time with and plenty of room to run around so it didn’t feel crowded. It helped that we had a spacious farm house and usually had a bedroom each, albeit a small one. When we started having exchange students, my brother build a shack out back as his bedroom so he didn’t have to share.

Both sets of grandparents had four kids - two adopted and two natural. Both sets made serious errors in judgment while raising their kids, and neither side of the family is particularly close to their siblings.

My boyfriend is third of eight, and the oldest boy. He’s very close to the older batch of his siblings, and takes a mentor-like role for his younger brother who is just 14.

My boyfriend has two kids from a previous marriage, and we’d like four to six kids total. The two girls are quite young - 5 and 7 - but we’ll still have a large gap between the older batch and the younger batch by the time we get started. I’ve always wanted my kids spaced fairly close together so they’ll have experiences in common. We might space our kids further apart than I’d like just so there isn’t as noticeable a division between the older two and whatever younger ones come along. I’d like the older two to feel close to their younger siblings, and not feel like they’re being replaced by newer models!

Ask me again in five to ten years, and I’ll probably have a more definitive answer.


My mom was the 13th of 14. Dad was 4th of 5 (gram died in childbirth with the 5th and grampa didn’t have kids from his second marriage). After their mom died the oldest 2 girls were sent to the convent but Dad, who was only 18 mo. & his youngest sister were fostered and even though their dad remarried and lived 4 doors away he never took them back.

Mom & Dad married when he was 39 & she was 28 and they only had 3 kids (without resorting to BC as Dad once pointed out). Dad’s sisters had small families (3, 2 & 0) and my mom’s siblings had at most 5, several had 3.

I have 3 (with ABC), my brothers have none (one’s been married 30 years, the other is gay).

I would have had babies until I reached menopause but DH was ready to stop at 2 and had a vasectomy after number 3. I married at a time when, in Canada, priests were telling us that ABC was up to our individual consciences and feel no guilt about using it. I wouldn’t make the same choice today – but it’s easy to say at this stage of my life.


I am one of 3. My mom was 30 when she had me. I am the oldest. Dad (Catholic) is the one who wanted to stop with kids at my sister and I. My brother was born when she was 37. She had her tubes tied right after he was born. My dad was one of 7…and all of his but 2 had only one child (pre-Vat II) except for my dad.

My DH is one of 9. Number 5. His dad was one of 10, his mom one of 5. Most of DH brothers had 3 kids, his sister had 5.

We wanted 4…had 2. We spaced everything 2 yrs. We married in 81 had son in 83 had daughter in 85. Decided we were done. Had hysterectomy in 91. Never looked back. Son is paying his own way through college and working part time as an intern. Daughter moved out with fiancee and is working, she didn’t want to go to college.

We were blessed with 2, are happy with 2. And yes, it had a lot to do with affordability. In this economy especially with gas prices there is no way we could afford to buy a bus to put kids in, let alone find a house we could afford that would hold all of us.

Both went to Catholic school until we could no longer afford it…and the kicker is…I worked there…no discount for employees. My son also had Asperger Syndrome and the Catholic school could no longer accommodate him…:frowning:

But you move on. To have a big family with out considering the financial aspects it would bring makes all involved have a hard time. Unless DH or DW for that matter is an IT specialist at MicroSoft…it may not be a good idea to pile on the kids.

I realize I will get slammed…but that is the way it goes. When it comes to raising children you have to “realistic” as well as faith filled.:slight_smile:


I am 1 of 2, DH is 1 of 3. We have 2 children.

My parents wanted more…the siblings didn’t come.

My in-laws had 3…I don’t think they wanted more.(Perhaps they wanted less:shrug: )

We have 2…I love my 2, but we didn’t start right away, we waited 3 years (I was pg on our 3rd anniversary)

We weren’t practicing Catholics back then, so we were worried about finances etc before starting to “try”. When I was married about 6 months I had a pregnancy “scare” I was about 1 month late, and just terrified to even test to see if I was pregnant. (I wasn’t pregnant…just late) At that point I needed to work, and had no one to care for the baby while I was working.

I then thought my Dad would be able to babysit, he was retiring. As soon as I had that idea in my head and was ready to face being a mom, AF started and the same day my Dad died suddenly.

I realized how stupid I was to be worried about having a baby. That would have been such a great gift. Having a parent pass away, that was real stress. A baby would have been such a joy…

Anyway, we have 2 little joys, and I had 2 miscarriages. I don’t know if we will have more, It’s really up to God at this point.

But, right now I am struggling with sadness about the silly reasons we kept postponing. I know I can’t change the past…:frowning: but maybe we said no to God to many times…I don’t know.


I am just got married no kids for me yet. My husband is the only child. His father is a family of 2. His mother is a family of 6

My one sister has 1 son and the other sister has a boy and a girl. My brothers have no children at this time.

I am a family of 5. My self #2 and the twins(2 sisters, #4 & #5). I begged for them. I was the only child in the house and was lonely. My mother said pray. I wanted twin sisters (I saw a show and thought it was neat the idea of twins). My mother said pray to God. I did and I got twin sisters! I knew God performed miracles then. My mother was 19 when she had me, my dad 20. She had my sisters at 26 and my dad 27. My mother after she found out she had 3 boys opted to tie her tubes. The other two boys are from two other women. My older #1 brother is 31. My younger brother will be #3 24.

My mother comes from a family of 6 and my dad comes from a family of 3(this might be higher because my grandfather might have more children with mistresses he had)

I am not sure about my maternal grandfather. I know my maternal grandmother was #2 of 16. My paternal grand father was #6 of 10 and my paternal grandmother was #9 of 9.

My dad’s family was well off. My paternal grammy was extremely Catholic. My mothers family lived in extreme poverty.

I think in this day and age it is harder to have a bigger family. But, being on this website, it can be done successfully.


My Mom and Dad had 18 brothers and sisters between them.
They (my parents) had 9 of us.
7 of those nine had 17 (there were some miscarriages also I didn’t include them for these purposes.)
of those seventeen, (so far), 9 of them have had 22 (one is in utero, they also had some miscarriages.)
of those twenty-two, (so far) 1 of them has had 1 (the rest are teens and younger, she was one of the oldest and is in her early 20’s).
I also think that coming from a large family gives you so much more than what money can buy, we always had what we needed, sometimes what we wanted and always were loved, fed, clothed and sheltered. We had what we needed.


Amongst the best gifts my parents have given me, my faith and their prayers being primary, my siblings would be next. There are 5 of us. I don’t live nearby them, but am close to them all.

The shape of me as a person has been profoundly influenced by my lifelong relationship with my siblings-- despite the fact that we disagree about some important things.

I am certain it is the same with our ten children. They have each helped to shape the personality, social skills, and place in the world of each of the others. That hasn’t always been based on pure charity, as the Catechism directs, but it is still the reality— each of my kids has learned about themselves and about the world through relationship with their siblings.

the CCC says this: 2227 ***Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents.*36 Each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Mutual affection suggests this. The charity of Christ demands it.

despite the fact we’ve exceeded what we thought our manageable number of children would be, they’ve been absolutely integral in advancing our (GoodHusband and my) deepening relationship with God. They’ve been integral in deepening our marriage relationship, also.

What our children have done for us and what they’ve done for each other-- how we’ve all changed because of each of these others-- really attests to the mystery of the sacrament of marriage and to the meaning of family.


My dh is an only child and I might as well be as the youngest of 4 by 10 years. I have little to no contact with any of my family. None of my sibs had more than 2 children. well, my sister had 4, but with different men.:cool: My children have only met 2 cousins and that was years ago. All but 1 cousin is a parent themselves, so no playmates for my kids with cousins.

My parents:
My mother was 1 - middle-ish of 8 that lived to adulthood (12 total, of which 3 died before age 5)
My father is the oldest of 5
Neither of them liked children much. My father not at all. Very self involved people.

My dh’s parents:
His father is the oldest of 2.
His mother is the youngest of 5.
VERY money and “good life” type ambition driven people.
**Not really “bad”, but just the one caused many complaints that he basicly used up all their money and cramped their style. Had one to have one kidn of thing. They love him, but they aren’t very close to him. Esp since they admit to not really wanting to be grandparents, esp to 8+ kids. They are probably honestly baffled at how a son of theirs could grow up to be such a large family man kind of guy with little concern for becoming affluent or social standing. They came to the quick conclusion that it obviously couldn’t have been their parenting, so it must be all my fault.:yup: :wink: **


I am 1 of 6 (the oldest), DH is 1 of 3 (the middle child).

My mom is the oldest of 6 and was in a family that was pretty well-to-do. My dad is the middle of 3 and lived in a lower middle class family.

DH’s parents - His mom is the middle of 3, his dad is the younger of 2 (His family is Protestant and very much a “2 kid family, ABC users”).

DH and I have one beautiful son and one on the way - we’ve been married for almost 2 years. We don’t have a specified number set out but when asked for a number we say somewhere between 8-10 would be our favorite :). Both of us grew up in middle class families, where we were given everything we needed and most of what we wanted. When college came around, we both chose a private Catholic university and got minimal financial assistance and neither of our parents could help us out financially much. We came into this marriage with way too much student loan debt, but we’ve always been able to pay the bills and do most of what we’ve wanted to do.

I believe it’s all in the attitude, not the number of children. Money and material things are nice, but they’re very temporary and they won’t get you to Heaven. I’ve been through both abundant times and very hard times with my own parents up and down financial circumstances, and I think we’ve been happiest when in those hard times because we’ve been forced to look at being self-less. DH and I struggle from month to month, but we’re happy knowing we have to depend on God and have learned ways to be creative in entertainment and things that aren’t necessities. But that’s us :). I see a lot more joy in the families who are open to life and really view their children as gifts - they just shine and enjoy each other’s company. That’s my goal - to always have that attitude :)!


I think thats exactly why I started this post. It’s the non-material wealth thats the most important in life! We live in such a material and selfish world today that it’s hard to get kids to understand the benefits of actually struggling to get what you need much less what you want and that a little self-denial can make you a stronger and better person.

With smaller families its just easier to cave in and buy them what ever they are whining for at the time, food, clothes, shoes toy’s…

Don’t get me wrong, my children are kind, they volunteer in the community, they are respectful of other’s & their elders, but they always have # 1 in mind.

In retrospect we could have handled more children & done just fine. I was always concerned about finances, but in the end you spend what you earn anyway! So with more children you just have to spend it better!


I am an only child as far as I know (I’m adopted)

My dh is one of 4.

We have one ds who is 4 and we miscarried back in 2003. We been practicing NFP since 2003 because of money issues. One of the things that helps me know that I am doing the right is this qoute from the Pontifical Council for the Family which was asked by Pope John Paul II to create a charter of rights for the family,.

“The spouses have the inalienable right to found a family and to decide on the spacing of births and the number of children to be born, taking into full consideration their duties towards themselves, their children already born, the family and society…”

At some point once we don’t have to pay for daycare anymore then perhaps we can look at having another (or are finances change) . I personally couldn’t imagine having more than 2 because I also know my emotional limits.


My dad was one of three, his brothers each had 1 son. My mom was one of 6, 2 never married, 2 had 2 children, and 2 had 1 child.

I grew up an ‘only child’, but had an older sister who died aged 4 days, and my dad had 2 older children from a previous marriage. My husband was one of 3 boys, not wanted, infact his Catholic parents had the abortion booked but his mom changed her mind and locked herself in her bedroom for most of the pregnancy, after him she apparently did go ahead with an abortion.

We have 2 girls, and it’s unlikely we’ll have anymore. We don’t use ABC or NFP and just let God decide…but it’s just not happening and that’s okay.

I’ve never wanted a large family though, my mom was one of 6 and they all ended up in fostercare because the Catholic parents were so poor they couldn’t feed them, and she had a horrible childhood. That really fixed in her mind that ‘one or two children is more than enough’


We have six kids and are open to more.

I have to admit that I’ve always wanted a big family. It’s nice that the Church is so full of encouragement for large families, but I am sure that I would have had a large family even if I was a Methodist or a Buddist or else…

We make a middle class income (only my dh works). Money is often tight. We’ve also been blessed with financial help from family.

I am sad that although my kids don’t lack for anything, we can’t afford special lessons, family vacations, and we will not be able to contribute anything to higher education.

On the positive side, they are well grounded and not spoiled. I have a distinct happy memory of buying my dd some new tennis shoes from Walmart. She was just delighted with them. I remember thinking, “what 12 year old girl would be so grateful for Wal-mart shoes?”

But, I really wish we could afford to provide those special experiences like music lessons, ice skating, dancing, karate…I wish we could take a family vacation. We’ve yet to take one longer than two days.

My dad was one of four. My mom one of five. My husband one of four. And, I was one of four.

Mom in retrospect wishes she would had more children, but she grew up in poverty–it caused her to have anxiety about providing for more children.

And, I who grew up in plenty (though definitely the “poorest” of my friends) don’t worry too much about money. In fact, I think I could be more economical with things.


6 here, my Dh and I are both the oldest of 2.

I want more…I love my kids and would even adopt if I couldn’t have more!


Thank you for sharing your view in retrospect. I hope people contemplating their own family size gain insight from the experience you shared.


Your welcome! I struggle with this as you may note from my posts. I would consider at my age adopting. I am adopted so I also think of giving back to someone who is in need. Children are a great gift and they help you grow. The large family is also a great gift. I have relatives in almost every state and most major metro area’s. Since I am close in age and my family grew up near both sets of grand parents I have the good fortune to know most of my cousins (all 85 of them). Its a great network!


My mom is the oldest of 3, dad is the youngest of 4. Mom’s parents divorced when she was young, both remarried. My parents had child out of wedlock that they gave up for adoption and went on to have 5 more, using NFP, of course. Our family has since made contact w/ my oldest full-blooded sibling and she now attends get-togethers on a regular basis.

My mother-in-law is the 3rd of 6, 2nd baby died shortly after birth. My father-in-law is the oldest of 6, 2nd died in his 20s in the military. Not sure about FIL’s side, but MIL’s side has one other family w/ 3 kids, 2 w/ 2 kids, and 1 w/ 1. My mom’s brother has 1 natural and 1 adopted, mom’s sister has 1. Not sure about one of dad’s bros, but the oldest never dated/married till he was in his 50s and his wife is/was a widow w/ 9 grown children. Dad’s sister had 7.

We have 2 in rapid succession, 18mo apart in first 2 yrs of marriage. I would like 2 more, day-dreaming of twin girls next time (have 2 boys now, not many girls in DH’s family). I will be pleasantly surprised if DH even thinks about ONE more. DH’s oldest bro has 1 child and desires another, but had a vasectomy at wife’s request. Next bro in line married for 10+ yrs and desires children, but none yet - his wife is marginally Catholic, not sure if they practice NFP. My oldest sibling has 2 children, the next has 1, the next 2 have 2 (one has 2 more step-kids), and then my sis has 1.

Everyone I know outside of church looks at me sideways when I tell them I want more or that DH and I haven’t set a #. At engaged encounter, the # I gave DH was 4 or greater and DH’s was 2. We may meet in the middle. I am only 26 and can’t stand the thought of being done by the time I’m 30! Right now we are just playing it by ear. So much can change, we are still young.


I am the eldest of 2, my husband the youngest of 2. My mother and my husband’s mother are both only children. My father had 2 sisters (twins) my husband’s father is the youngest of 3, 2 boys and 1 girl.

Grandparents: my grandmother (mother’s mother) had 2 brothers, both died in WW2 and were never married. My grandfather (mother’s father) was the youngest of 3. On my father 's side, my grandfather was the fifth child of 8, 5 of whem survived to adulthood but another one died in her early 20s from TB. My father’s mother had 2 brothers, both of whom married and 3 children each…

Basically I had 2 aunts, 1 first cousin and no uncles. My cousin died at 36, never married. My parents really wanted a large family (6+) but were not blessed this way. They didn’t use any form of birth control.
My husband and I have not been blessed with any children yet and are starting to talk about adopting. My sister has 2 children.

My husband has one uncle and one aunt. His aunt never married and his uncle has 2 grown children.

So much for large Irish families!!!


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