Having a Big Family


#1

The Holy Father has said a large family, “Constitutes a witness of faith, courage, and optimism.”

catholicculture.org/news/features/index.cfm?recnum=40502

I have only two siblings, but my father had 7 siblings in his big Irish Catholic family. Many folks in my family now discourage having too many children because they believe it is too expensive, and too time-consuming.

I'm open to what God wants for me someday - I'm not even married yet. But I know that I would be open to having a big family, if that's what God provided me with.

I'm curious about the experiences of those with big families, and how you have managed to afford it, as well as how you dealt with the "suggestions" of family members who might not have supported your family size.


#2

I asked my Dad many years ago how he dared to have so many children, and he replied, "You just have to have faith in God."

But it isn't just the financial issues, there are more emotional stresses of course, when the children are young, and later.
I'm one of nine surviving siblings.
It's not always easy, but in my family there is unity, and an interesting variety of personalities. There's a lot of mutual support...but I know not all families large or small have that.

"Catholic or careless?" some less-tactful folk used to say to my mother when she was pregnant again. However she died when the youngest was four years old.

I don't think you can go on others' experience...your life will unfold in your own unique manner.

God bless you and guide you and the family you may someday have.


#3

I'm the 2nd of 10, we had a lot of fun growing up and I really wouldn't trade any one of my sisters or brothers (well maybe the brothers,just kidding) for a 1,000,000,000,000. It is true that the best present you can give your child is a little sister (and you can't return the brothers,kidding again).
I think the best way to deal with rude people who comment on your family size is to be as charitable as possible. It is the strangest thing when old aunt Biddy comes up and says "what? another one?!!!" but it is best to just say, "yes, we just love all our kids" as opposed to "you know if my kids were ANYTHING like yours I could understand NEVER having another but ours are perfect so we want as many as we can."


#4

My mom was the oldest of seven and they all talked about how much fun (though totally chaotic) it was growing up. They all turned out to be good, happy, well-adjusted people who all stay very close. However, they said it was unbelievably stressful for their mom (my grandma) to raise so many children (she had 6 kids in 6 years, then a few year gap before the 7th). It was probably due to her severe depression and anxiety though, so I think she would have been the same regardless of the number of children.
I was one of two and my husband was one of three, and we both want a large family of at least four or five kids. It will be hard and expensive, but we think it will be completely worth it. I want my kids to have the love and joy that comes from being part of a big happy family. I feel like I really missed out on that.


#5

Chicken & egg?
http://img375.imageshack.us/img375/9282/2manyeggs.jpg


#6

Read any books by Teresa Bloomingdale, if you can find them. I love her writings about her big family.


#7

I wanted a big family but to me that was about 4-6. Not going to happen unless I find a lot of money somewhere and adopt them all....I've left that in Gods hands. Frankly at over forty and single I doubt they would let me adopt that many anyway. :eek::D


#8

Kids are not as expensive as the numbers you always hear quoted in news reports (last week I heard it was $350K/kid). Education can get you, thats the big one. But, there can be big variable cost savings (ie the 8th kids doesn't cost as much as the 1st). So general, there is a lot to be said for trusting in God. We have 8. Three are grown and 5 are still in progress. I would say the fun of a big family greatly outweighs the difficulty aspects. I am not saying all kids from large families are always well behaved, but my experience is that being a part of a large family goes a long ways towards instilling a since of responsibility and reducing discipline problems.

As to family and friends who don't support a large family, that is not as big of deal as people make out. Close friends, even those who are not religious, may tease you a little here and there, but I haven't ever been insulted by any of it. Family, a little more problematic at times, but not that much. They get used to the fact that you are crazy eventually. The problem comes from strangers, ie people in check out lines at stores, and are normally from women and almost always directed at the mother.


#9

[quote="1sicht, post:5, topic:208337"]
Chicken & egg?

[/quote]

Considering most women on my mom's side of the family have depression and anxiety issues, myself included, I think it's safe to say it's genetic and would have happened to her anyway. :(


#10

I think big families are only appropriate if you make a lot of money. When we was first married, almost 20 years ago, I drank the Kool-Aid about how it's great to have a big family and that the Lord would provide and all that. After five kids, we are still struggling financially and I will probably never be able to send the kids to college, much less retire. God blessed us with children, but He also blessed me with common sense that says you need to have the means to provide for your kids. I also know many, many Catholic families who struggle financially because of their decision to have a big family. I say forget what the Church says about big families--unless the Church wants to start subsidizing your living expenses.


#11

We have eight. It does take faith, but God does provide. I, too, will probably never be able to retire, but so what? I love all of my kids and wouldn't trade them for everything. Our youngest is such a blessing that we really would have missed out if we had pulled the plug at seven. Perhaps God has a plan to take care of me in my old age too, because he certainly had a hand in our having these children. I see God's hand in so much that has happened to me that I'm not worried.

As far as having common sense, that is true. You can't just assume things will work out. You have to work pretty hard to make sure that it does, but God makes up where our labors fail.

Regarding family members, after five or six they just give up saying anything to you. It all works out with time. I find it most troubling dealing with employers. You are seen as odd, and sometimes you end up having to move out to move up because people don't look favorably on people who stand out regarding non-work factors.

Best advice I can give is have your financial house in order and avoid debt. If you can avoid debt, you will do well.


#12

8 kids.

Financially: From a father's perspective, those kids are a heck of an incentive to work hard, be responsible, and be professionally successful. Also, besides Catholic Schools/college, kids are not that expensive. No question, the education is expensive, so you have to work with what you got. Maybe home schooling, looking hard at inexpensive catholic schools. For college, there are lots of scholarship options these days if kids have good grades, and you have to make you kids work during the summers in high school.

Comments/suggestions from others: ignore them. Seriously, completely ignore them. Do NOT get caught up in these conversations about how mean, cruel people are towards large families (or threads on this forum). Likewise, ignore those comments from others who want to tell you how great you are and how great your family looks in church. All families have their problems.


#13

[quote="Airplane_Nut, post:10, topic:208337"]
I think big families are only appropriate if you make a lot of money. When we was first married, almost 20 years ago, I drank the Kool-Aid about how it's great to have a big family and that the Lord would provide and all that. After five kids, we are still struggling financially and I will probably never be able to send the kids to college, much less retire. God blessed us with children, but He also blessed me with common sense that says you need to have the means to provide for your kids. I also know many, many Catholic families who struggle financially because of their decision to have a big family. I say forget what the Church says about big families--unless the Church wants to start subsidizing your living expenses.

[/quote]

Wow, I'm sorry you feel that way... We've been married nearly 30 years and blessed with six children, AND have always struggled with our finances the entire time, but we don't place blame on the Church for it. :shrug: Some things are beyond our control, such as losing a job, but I'd say the most of our difficulties resulted from our own mistakes in handling money and not budgeting properly. We still struggle, but are learning from our mistakes and consider ourselves fortunate to have the family God has given us. I often wonder though, if it would be helpful for couples preparing for marriage to take a course in money management, in addition to NFP classes? We would have taken it! :thumbsup:


#14

[quote="Airplane_Nut, post:10, topic:208337"]
I think big families are only appropriate if you make a lot of money. When we was first married, almost 20 years ago, I drank the Kool-Aid about how it's great to have a big family and that the Lord would provide and all that. After five kids, we are still struggling financially and I will probably never be able to send the kids to college, much less retire. God blessed us with children, but He also blessed me with common sense that says you need to have the means to provide for your kids. I also know many, many Catholic families who struggle financially because of their decision to have a big family. I say forget what the Church says about big families--unless the Church wants to start subsidizing your living expenses.

[/quote]

Hey, great way to make a first impression! Guess what? Kids can work their way through college, get scholarships, go part-time, start at community college. In fact, I recommend that kids take responsibility for themselves, and they are more likely to do that if their parents are not well to do.

You won't get very far in this forum by telling other members to "forget what the church says," in any realm of our lives.

:mad:


#15

[quote="Airplane_Nut, post:10, topic:208337"]
I think big families are only appropriate if you make a lot of money. When we was first married, almost 20 years ago, I drank the Kool-Aid about how it's great to have a big family and that the Lord would provide and all that. After five kids, we are still struggling financially and I will probably never be able to send the kids to college, much less retire. God blessed us with children, but He also blessed me with common sense that says you need to have the means to provide for your kids. I also know many, many Catholic families who struggle financially because of their decision to have a big family. I say forget what the Church says about big families--unless the Church wants to start subsidizing your living expenses.

[/quote]

so I suppose you know which kids you wish you nevere had so that you can retire?


#16

[quote="tafan, post:15, topic:208337"]
so I suppose you know which kids you wish you nevere had so that you can retire?

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#17

I come from a large family as well, and wouldn't trade it for the world. It hasn't been easy for my family due to the economic collapse, but I'll be working soon, so will provide for my family as well. As the others grow up I'm sure they'll do the same.

Oddly enough, we have a auntie and her husband who have always been critical of having so many children. Now they are in their 60's, still healthy and active, but their criticisms have gone. My parents have children who are their best friends and who will always stand by and protect them.


#18

[quote="Airplane_Nut, post:10, topic:208337"]
I think big families are only appropriate if you make a lot of money. When we was first married, almost 20 years ago, I drank the Kool-Aid about how it's great to have a big family and that the Lord would provide and all that. After five kids, we are still struggling financially and I will probably never be able to send the kids to college, much less retire. God blessed us with children, but He also blessed me with common sense that says you need to have the means to provide for your kids. I also know many, many Catholic families who struggle financially because of their decision to have a big family. I say forget what the Church says about big families--unless the Church wants to start subsidizing your living expenses.

[/quote]

Sounds like you "drank the Kool-Aid" of the culture, not the church. Our society says that parents are obliged to provide their children with endless financial resources. I just don't think that is healthy. I am the mother of seven children and was raised one of six. I know how big families can struggle financially, and don't mean to be casual about serious issues. Both my husband (also from a large family) and I worked our way through college and are the better for it. Most American families, unless they are positively wealthy, can't afford to put kids through college. I think it is irresponsible to say that unless parents can provide great material advantages to their children they ought not to have them. It isn't a matter of having money, it's a matter of learning the difference between needs and wants.


#19

so I suppose you know which kids you wish you nevere had so that you can retire?

Now hang on...Airplane Nut is clearly troubled by what's going on in his/her life. While I agree saying that many Catholics are drinking the large family kool-aid is very uncharitable...so is asking him/her (oh forget this I'll just stick with "he" like in Spanish where gender is unknown) which of his children does he wish was never born.

Although his post is bitter, he never did say he regretted having *any **of them (in fact he said he was *blessed!)...only that he wished he thought more about the responsibility beforehand. It sounds like the same thing but it really isn't. You can have things turn out wonderfully and still wish you thought more about your future. He's still probably doing the best he can. It's tough. Just because children are a blessing doesn't mean we should require financially strapped parents of many children to have their happy faces on all the time.

It's one thing to ask a busybody which one of your own kids would **they **get rid off to make a point. But not asking the busybody this question about **their **kids. If I got asked that because I didn't have my happy face on, I'd feel an urge to smack you for equating my real anxiety over money troubles with a desire to be rid of some or all of my children.

I'm the oldest of 5. Once we were all in school both my parents worked. We bought our needs in bulk. A wholesale club was our friend. Most of the time, generic is just as good as brand name. Shop smart. Amazon Mom and BJ's are my best friends. After you take care of those 1-time items like a crib I'm actually shocked at how little we are spending on our firstborn (even more so since she's formula fed with disposable diapers...but that could easily have turned out otherwise if she was born with health concerns). She's already outgrown her newborn clothes but they're still in great shape and ready for the next one (if there is a next one). Of God wills it and our next one is another girl dang we'll be set for years...or at least until she starts caring about the fact she never gets anything "new". :p

As far as college went my parents started early and invested in the stock market as soon as we were born. I'm not sure if they set up 529s for us...I could have sworn they had more freedom to do as they wished with the money. But most of us were able to get scholarships to cover more than half of the expense. We also ended up not going to school out of state and we didn't live on campus (the one sibling who tried *hated *the experience...in fact she hated college life in general so much she graduated in 3 years just to get out).

And yes the cost per child does go down as you have more of them since there are quite a few essentials that you only need to buy once.

But this is my personal experience. I don't really believe in "one size fits all" parenting. So you do everything you can to make things work and let God take care of the rest.


#20

[quote="Kit15, post:19, topic:208337"]

It's one thing to ask a busybody which one of your own kids would **they **get rid off to make a point. But not asking the busybody this question about **their **kids. If I got asked that because I didn't have my happy face on, I'd feel an urge to smack you for equating my real anxiety over money troubles with a desire to be rid of some or all of my children.

[/quote]

Sorry I wanted to tidy and clarify this part of my post but the time limit for editing expired.

It's one thing to ask a busybody which one of your own kids would *they **get rid off to make a point. ("Golly my family IS enormous! Thanks for pointing it out! Which one do you think I should get rid off?") But it's another matter entirely to ask the person that question *if the children involved aren't yours. (Well if you think your large family is so hard to handle why don't you just get rid of one?"). If I got asked that because I didn't have my happy face on, I'd feel an urge to smack you for equating my real anxiety over money troubles with a desire to be rid of some or all of my children.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.