If a family is unable to take care of their kids, should they continue to have kids?

What is the position of the church on this? In my own life, I know a family who has 16 kids.Now yes this is a beautiful witness to life, but at the same time, they can’t really take care of their kids. Neither of the parent’s has an education and the father is the only one who really works ( I also wonder if the parents might be close to being near the IQ level for MR, since in talking to both the mother and father they seem to have intelligence issues). Also, the kids live in poor conditions and most of them suffer from mental illnesses that they can’t treat too well because they can’t afford it.
So what does the church teach on this? Could their parish priest tell them to go on NFP? In a sense it is their right to do so or not, but from what i’ve gathered it seems more like they have kids out of a lack of knowledge, rather than knowingly so. and doing it because they have a strong faith (granted they do attend mass every sunday, but I don’t know how devout they are, if at all outside of mass, though as I said it seems like they may have trouble understanding certain things intellectually)

Also can a priest advise someone not to have more kids and go on NFP if they are unable to provide for them. Also would it be wrong for a family to limit the number of kids if they have a high chance of having a certain disease?

I would think the answer would be, no they shouldn’t. But you can’t legally force someone to stop having kids. If the kids are living in sub-standard conditions, though, the state may have the right to remove them from their parents’ care.

I think having kids is a decision between husband and wife only. It is a very personal decision and no other family member, nor the government nor anyone else can tell a family to stop.

you can pray for them.

No, no, no, and no.

What the church expects is to for us to be our brothers keeper. If these children are in need and their parents have intellectual challenges what a Christian should do if one is able is offer assistance not judgement. If you are blessed and are able to offer something these parents can not, then do so. Gather gently used clothes and or/toys. If you have talents and can give these children experiences they would otherwise not have that would very kind. If you are good at home repairs maybe you donate yourself in this way. Alms giving doesn’t always mean money. Get creative. You can not look at these children’s faces and decide which one should not have been born. Make their lives better if you are able and leave the judgement up to God.

My husband’s father is the youngest of 8, and he and his siblings grew up extremely poor and in quite difficult conditions. His father’s mother was pretty much a single mom with a husband who came and went and impregnated her regularly -and other women as well (beside the 8 her had with his wife). My Father-in-law was not a good father, he was quite abusive. But if he had not been born, my husband would not have been born (conceived before marriage) and despite having a difficult childhood, my husband learned what not to be and is a very good dad. Our daughter is the only child I could have because of my health and she is an amazing, kind, devout young lady. But she wouldn’t be if not for the eighth child whom clearly they could not afford or care for well 60 years ago.

If you are concerned the best thing to do is to try to make things better for those who have less.

the Church as far as I understand says that you should have as many kids as you can, if you can only have one, just have one, and i dont mean biologically posible, but that you might give them a proper life, which i dont think they are giving to them.

Excellent answer. OP, if this family goes to your church then befriend them and do something to make their lives better. You don’t have to solve all their problems - just help as you can.

If you are genuinely concerned for the well being of these kids, called the authorities and let them deal with it.

Honestly, lack of education is a ridiculous reason to not have kids. Tons of people had kids before education was accessible to the common person.

Honestly, the only reason these kids came into the world is because God allowed it. Don’t second guess God’s decisions

When a husband and wife have sex is none of your business. I would suggest you invest in the Children and have others in your parish do the same. put the fingers that you are using to point with to good use and help the situation.

Thanks for the replies everyone! I guess my first response is that I am more worried about the children most of all. It truly is a sad situation because not only are they in poverty, but oftentimes the kids have to take care of the others because their are so many. I don’t know if it’s so bad in the sense that they are starving, but i do feel it affects their quality of life because the kids can’t get support or services because they don’t have enough money and it seems like they don’t want handouts, though in this case i’d say it’s foolish not too.

Also, someone mentioned that lack of education shouldn’t stop people from kids. Don’t take it as i’m saying since they don’t have a higher education that they can’t have kids. By education, I meant that maybe the parents weren’t capable of understanding NFP or didn’t understand that having so many kids would put a strain on them financially. Don’t get me wrong if parents are able to raise as many kids as they want go ahead. I actually think people need to do this more often. However, if you are unable to take care or provide for them, then it might be smart to start NFP.

Maybe their priest could talk to them and ascertain how they are doing and what kind of help and support they might need.
The parishioners, for example you, could befriend them and maybe see what the kids lack. Since Christmas is approaching, you might invite them over for a meal, and have a chat. I bet few would dare to invite a family of 18 over, but it could be a rare treat for them. Just a thought.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing that the kids take care of one another; families used to do that all the time – the older kids would each have a younger one assigned to them, for example.

I agree with rayne89’s excellent answer and I concur with those who suggest trying to help the family. Could it be possible that by befriending them, you could help with immediate needs in small ways that wouldn’t seem like charity if they might be reluctant to accept it? The “You’d be doing us a favor if you could take some of this, made too much, we won’t eat it all” approach? :wink:

And maybe if they come to trust you you could learn if they might have something like a learning disability of illiteracy - or something below the surface that might be making them less aware that there are things that need to be addressed. If they are well meaning but maybe don’t understand what things they might be able to do to improve their lot, maybe you can help them. If they trust you, maybe you would know for sure, too, if they’re not getting some help due to pride, or maybe they’re intimidated by the process of applying.

The older kids, too, might benefit from some friendly mentoring, particularly as they’re getting towards graduation from school or entering the workforce.

The Church does not tell us to ‘have as many kids as you can.’ Not from the biological perspective, nor from the perspective of how many you can give a ‘proper’ life. What it says is that the marital act must be open to life.

Who determines what is a proper life, anyway? There are and have been many people who didn’t grow up in the greatest conditions, but are/were nonetheless grateful to have had life. And many of those people have done great things for the world.

Rayne’s answer is perfect.

Can you be more specific when you say “they can’t really take care of their kids” are they unable to provide food and shelter for their kids. Kids need an education, food, and shelter. My grandparents raised 8 kids in a 1100 square foot 3 bed 1 bath house. They were poor as well. But, they did raise a Christ centered family. Their kids all shared rooms, they were all sent to parochial school (my grandmother worked in the cafeteria to help with tuition), the family was poor but they were all fed, and they didn’t need a lot of toys because with 8 children the children always had playmates.

I just don’t buy into it that children need a lot to be taken care of. They need shelter, food, and an education.

Nowadays, it seems like parents are expected to provide in excess to their children’s upbringing. For example, I once had a friend who was honestly surprised when I put my 3 year son in a twin bed not a full bed, but a twin bed. I just don’t see a purpose in buying child a large bed unless they are sharing it with a sibling. I also know people who think that they don’t have room for any more kids in their 2000 square foot home because then they will have to have their children share a bedroom (again this excessive, kids do not need their own bedroom).


I guarantee you that these parents have already heard a thing or two from doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers and strangers on the street.

Has CPS ever been involved? What you’re describing sounds like something that the authorities might need to assess.

Not actually seeing the situation, I realize I may be off base here - but why would “the kids have to take care of the others because their are so many” be an issue? Unless it’s to the point where one sibling can’t get their homework done or have any free time, then to me it’s part of being family and not a problem. :shrug:

I don’t want to minimize your concern, but having several children (and being berated by people for not meeting their standards of ‘care’) I may be overly sensitive to your wording - and if so, I apologize.

I have struggled a great deal with determining what “taking care” of my kids can, and should, entail. Basics of food are definitely in on the one hand. Annual trips to Disney are definitely out on the other. But in between, there are a whole range of issues that fall into a gray area that has to be figured out.

I find it so odd that the OP has intruded in this families marital bed and has no defense for it. Even the comment about “higher” education smacks of elitism.

Morality and the command from God is the same in all places throughout all time. So if a couple decides they are called to have a child or engages in the Holy Act of the Marital Embrace and decides to have children they are not only protected by Church teaching but even encouraged by it. Remember. There are people in third world countries who have children and some of them die from starvation. The Church does not even come close to telling poor people, or people who are persecuted to stop getting married or having kids.

I am saddened but not shocked by the OPs mentality and judgement.

Tell me OP, Should the couple in judgement here have not had the last child they had either? At what point do you think they should be told to not have more children.

What this family needs is help from the Church made up of YOU.

I’m sure God is pleased with all life created so far in this family, and all future life. Perhaps it is the rest of the world that tries to devalue and limit life that will be judged harshly.

The family has already heard everything a million times. Talking to them will be a waste of breath.

However, if the children are living in substandard conditions it might be something that CPS should investigate.

Exactly. From the OP, I gather that there is neglect going on. This is why we have CPS in the US. They’ll check things out.

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