Making Ends Meet


The basic question is: How does a Catholic family get married at age 18 or 20, have one child two years apart for 20+ years, feed them, clothe them, educate them to grade 12 (at least) and then after all that is done, retire without dumpster diving?

I just can’t reconcile Catholic theology together with today’s economy.


Where in Catholic theology does it say to get married at 18 or 20? Where in Catholic theology does it say to have children every 2 years? What families do you know that have many children have had to resort to dumpster diving when they retire?

Quality of life is not based on materials. One does not need cable, cell phones, video games, or multiple cars to be happy.

I suggest you re-phrase your question in a less antagonistic manner, perhaps doing some research so that there aren’t so many assumptions without basis.

Some suggestions for reading:

Good news about sex and marriage by Christopher West


I’ve yet to meet a Catholic family who fits the description above.

Could you show me where that is Catholic theology?


I know a couple who married at 21, are now in their mid 40’s, and have 11 kids.

The kids don’t have their own rooms, the family has 1 TV, they buy clothes second hand, don’t eat out much, generally live frugally and are a wonderful, happy family. I love being around them! Apparently it can be done :thumbsup: .


**Like previous posters have mentioned, what you suggest is not Catholic theology. It is a way of life that has been chosen by some families because they feel God has called them to it. God does not call all people to marriage, nor does he call all married people to have tons of children. For those He does call to have large families, He provides. Maybe not to the “world’s” standards, but to His own.

Plus, I would think it would be easier to retire and live comfortably if I had a dozen kids to help me out in my golden years. I only have one sister so all of the responsibility of caring for our aging parents will fall on just us. Sure would be nice to have 10 more people to share it with!**


A priest made a great impression on me when he said that a brother or sister is a much more valuable gift to give a child than any material thing.



My parents were not Catholic, but they married when my mother was 19 and my dad was almost 21. They have eight children who are each about two years apart, with a larger age gap between the current youngest and baby number 9. My mother is a stay at home mom; my father has done a variety of things and has not always been employed due to circumstances beyond his control. If he had always had a good steady job we would have had no problems at all. So far, it seems that the plan is for us to be homeschooled until high school and then go to the local public school. I am currently in college with scholarships, grants, and loans under my own name and I am basically supporting myself aside from toiletries, needed clothes, etc. which my parents pay for because they want to. My family rents a house from my grandmother, and my parents are hoping to buy it someday. Absolutely no one has their own bedroom. We don’t have a lot of fancy toys except those we buy with Christmas or birthday money or with money we earn, we hand down clothes, my mom uses coupons, we have received government assistance at times.

We have never had the water or electricity cut off. We have always had food to eat. We have always had a roof over our heads and beds to sleep in. The only disadvantage to homeschooling was that we couldn’t afford to do any kind of co-op thing because all the ones we knew of in our area cost quite a bit of money. We have library cards and read voraciously. We have cell phones, computers, TVs. We are RICH compared to people in third world countries. I am unspeakably glad that I grew up this way, because it made me into the person I am. I know I don’t have to have a whole bunch of STUFF to be happy. Stuff does nothing. Why do I need a fancy house? I would always be afraid of messing something up. I’d rather have the kind of house my parents have.

(Also, about having so many siblings: I adore my siblings. They mean I’ve had five “babies” so far – the ones I helped take care of. I’m incredibly excited about the one that’s coming because this one I’m old enough to be the mother of, and that’ll be a new perspective I never had before. I think having siblings has helped prepare me for future motherhood – I’ll have some idea of what I’m getting into!)

The kind of situation you described can work. It does work. Retirement’s a ways away for my parents. I don’t know where they’ll be then, but I know they will be okay.


:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:



I married at 19
Had our first baby at 21 (no birth control/nfp prior, just took a bit to get pregnant)
I didn’t enter a Catholic church until our 3rd, and didn’t become a bona fide catholic until after the 5th was born.
Dh is not a catholic, barely christian.
I have been married 15 years and now have 8 children between the ages of 21 months and 13 years. The longest between any of them is 23 months. If God (and we really pray he does!) sends another this will be the longest between babies.

They are all fed, clothed, and receive a catholic home education. Retirement would be nice I suppose, but we don’t really care if we retire. We just want to take care of our family. If we die while doing it - well there’s worse ways to go.

Not once have we ever had to dumpster dive. God willing we never will. But if I had to, I can’t think of anyone I’d be more willing to do it for than my dh and kids.

I wouldn’t change a thing.

We’ve had some really hard times, but they made us stronger. and no my dh does not make big $$ and never has.


isn’t it amazing that 2000 years of Catholics managed to do it, living at a standard of living far below that enjoyed by even welfare recipients in today’s America, yet now that we are, as a class, wealthier than ever before in history, raising children has suddenly become too expensive. true poverty, as Mother Teresa aptly observes.


My mum’s grandparents had 13 children who survived to adulthood. All were fed and clothed, all decently educated (great-grandpa set up his own school in his area so that they could be). I know that granddad went through medical school and his brother through the seminary, which must’ve taken some doing. Apart from the hardships of WWI and WWII they managed well.

What makes you think every child a) needs a grade 12 education and b) needs its parents to pay for it all?

Take it from someone whose parents who expected all five of their children to go to university, and who has struggled mightily the whole way through my studies, I know I would have been at least as well off going my own way after high school, at least for a time. And then going on to university when I was ready and could at least partly contribute to the cost. Formal study isn’t for everyone and plenty of successful people aren’t highly educated formally.

And when you say ‘feed and clothe’, what makes you think that it’s got to be such a huge expense, even in today’s economy?

I know being the youngest of five I frequently received hand-me-down clothes as a kid, and am so OK with the concept that I still sometimes take stuff off my sisters’ hands (and even my mother - she’s a bit of a hoarder) that would otherwise go in the charity bin or stay unworn at the back of the wardrobe.


Well…I married at almost 30, we don’t ‘use anything’ and after 7 years of marriage I have 2 kids with no 3rd on the horizon…So, where do you get this idea that you ‘have to’ marry young and have loads of kids? Nobody says that, least of all the Church!

Anna x


I’m not a mom yet, but I’ve got the feeling that it tends to be energy and time, not money, that makes it hard to handle more children, at least when they’re young.

My boyfriend and I have agreed that we’d rather have less money and more people to love than a big house in the suburbs. I’d love four to six kids, my boyfriend was thinking along the lines of two to four, and so we’ll just see what God gives us.

My mom’s take on things: God will provide, but grow your own veggies. :thumbsup: Works for me!


I don’t think it’s about the money and how expensive it is to raise children,there is always something around that,but put in to mind about raising them in this society and how hard it is to keep them on the road of a true catholic,that’s hard enough.I have three wonderful healthy children.I wish for more,but I need to concentrate on the three to be true christians,and this society it’s not easy for me and for them.Money’s not the issue but society in genral,may GOD help and guide us in the right way and help us to answer those atheist questions so that we win more christians back. Praise The LORD.!!!


Hey everyone. My fiance and I are getting married in a little over a month, and are talking about having a child ASAP. We have discussed at length how many children we would like to have. I am the oldest of 3 and she is the oldest of 2. We have done a lot of study, read Christopher West’s “Good news about sex and marriage” (if you haven’t read it I HIGHLY recommend it), we are going to NFP classes, and NO WHERE have we read or been told that you have to have TONS of kids. I am 25 and she is 22, we have prayed a lot about it and we want 2 or 3 kids. We think this is a good number mostly because I have a job that requires a lot of time at work and I take a lot of work home with me (I am a Network Administrator so I am on call 24/7) and I want to maximize the amount of time I get to spend with our children around my job. Although a nice big house, electronics, multiple cars, etc aren’t a requirement to live they are things that are nice to have if you can afford them. I am blessed that I make great money at my job, can afford a nice home, nice cars, things, but when we have our children soon, they come first, I want to be able to pay for their schooling, give them every scholastic advantage possible. But all that is really needed for a happy family is a roof over their head, food in the tummy’s and love. All the rest is ancillary, but it is nice if you can afford it, but again not required.:thumbsup: :thumbsup:


Thank you for sharing that, puzzleannie. Just what I needed to hear today :slight_smile:


It’s easy. You don’t buy a huge new house in the burbs, you don’t drive new SUVs, you don’t wear designer clothes, you don’t have a big-screen in every room, you don’t vacation in Europe or at Disney world twice a year.

It is amazing to me how much people THINK they need. As Annie said, for thousands of years, people have lived quite happily on what no person in this country would accept as a reasonable standard of living. It’s only been the last 60 years or so that most people have had electricity and cars. How did they do it? They grew their own food, and made all those kids HELP! Kids didn’t used to have everything handed to them on a silver platter like everyone expects them to now. And you know what, there was no divorce, no abortion, no STDs. Maybe we could learn something from them? But no, that would mean giving up our TiVo. :rolleyes: :shrug:


I agree with most of what is being said in this thread, but some times I get the feeling that some people here feel that if someone makes good money and buys big screen tv’s, new SUV’s, a big house in the 'burbs that they aren’t as good of a Catholic as someone who gives that up for more kids. I am blessed to be in a profession where i make great money and can provide more creature comforts. I may be misinterpreting it, but if I can afford those things what is wrong with that? They aren’t needed but we have the money where we can afford them.


Nothing is wrong with it as long as you are also taking care of the poor/needy and not using “lack of money” as an excuse to not have more children:thumbsup:

You are not less of a Catholic just because you are lucky enough to have been blessed with more money than some. Just be a good steward of that wealth…

As for the general tone of this thread, I agree that we are so much better off than generations past and all of the previous 2000 years worth of Christians. But there is a point that today’s society is set up for double-income-two-or-less-kids. Depending on area and circumstances, many good Catholic families would be hard pressed to be able to have mom stay home AND provide for lots of kids. Hubby and I are stretching the budget just providing for the ONE we have so far. We will see how things go and always try to be open to God’s will…


Oh I agree, in fact my fiance and I just took on “adopting” a child from costa rica at Mass today. A priest from my old Parish was there talking about his charity, and we couldn’t help but pick up a packet and help. Because this childs family only makes $95 a month and has no father. And here I am complaning about only having 10mb internet and my brother has 20mb internet. It made me feel bad, I have really nice things and this girl had concrete walls and floors and a tin roof. We believe it is great to have nice things, but we have to help others too. “To whom much is given, much is required”

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