Where are all the large Catholic families?

Now, my wife and I have 8 children and in our (very traditional) parish that is about the average. For every family with less than 8 children there is one with more than 8. There’s even a few with 10, 11, 12 +etc.

(And yes I’m talking about a SSPX parish, but I really don’t want to start another SSPX fight)

However, outside the parish when people ask about my family they are amazed, some even horrified, at the number of children we have, even Catholics. And to be honest I am a bit surprised by the reaction from other Catholics. Quite often it is “well I’m a Catholic too but my 2, or 3, children are more than enough for me”. Often they will tell me that they are one of 5 or 6 siblings themselves, or their parents were one of 8 or 9 siblings, but they only have the one child, or 2, or 3.

So, where are all the traditionally large Catholic families? What is happening with the “modern” Catholic family? Have they disobeyed the Church’s teachings on contraception? Is there a reluctance to accept God’s will when it comes to the number of children He gives us? Or have they just become super experts on natural family planning?

I’ve been curious about this for awhile now. In a way I feel it is a bit sad as it seems yet another way that Catholics are losing their identity.

Any thoughts or comments, or am I mostly mistaken? How are things where you live?

Well I am pretty sure you are baiting, but the answer is simple. ABC and NFP are the main methods and pride and self absorption are the causes.

People want the “good life” now. They no longer trust that God will provide for them. Their kids must have a silver spoon in hand.

Outside of traditional Catholic circles it is VERY rare to find a family with more than 3 children.

We have six soon to be seven children. We are still on the small side of our EF parish (non-sspx, but most of use still attend an SSPX chapel from time to time.). The Bishop came and offered a low Mass a few months back. He remarked about the number of young people there.

My boys go to the local Catholic grade school. There are only two families that have more than three children and we are one of them. The other is also an EF family only. They have 11 children. The other families at the school avoid us. The see all of the kids as some kind of plague or disease. At least that is how it is perceived by us.

The answer to your question was easy. The solution is not. People are comfy using NFP to avoid kids for their convenience. The number of legit grave reasons is really small. The whole of most Catholic parishes is aging.

The recent parish council meeting voted to spend $1600 on a portable defibralator and also voted to remove real candles in the sanctuary in favor of plastic tubes with oil burning inserts. Most of the council is “older”.

I just try to ignore it. I am happy where I am for the most part. I have can attend the EF Mass daily. I don’t have to worry about all of the screwball things that go on at other parishes. I get to sing in the choir, etc. There is still some clickyness between SSPX and parish members, but that is melting away the longer we are together.

The young adults in my parish are having lots of kids. A lot of the people still involved with the parish after going through Life Teen are having large families and are open to life. Lots of babies/young families at both the “children’s liturgy” Mass and the Life Teen Mass.

The two exceptions are one couple who have one child, but they’re having a lot of trouble conceiving (please pray for them).

The other exception is my wife and I, who have one child and due to illnesses we can’t have any more for the next few years (please pray for us too).

The “JP2 generation” within the Church have taken his Theology of the Body and are running with it, and can only bode well for larger families.

They are here in the Philippines!!

I’m sorry if it appears I am baiting, as that’s not the case, but anyway you have given a very good answer.

I’m sorry to hear your family is “frowned upon” by other Catholic families, but it confirms what also happens in my neck of the woods, away from our parish. We are very fortunate that our parish has it’s own school, but before that our kids attended a public school and, like you, we were seen as the “weirdos”. Very sad really, especially coming from other Catholics, moreso when they themselves have come from a large family.

In our parish we often hear the comments that children are a gift from God, and we gladly accept how ever many He chooses to give us. A beautiful sentiment, and the opposite of your observations that people no longer trust God to provide for them.

sometimes, women just can’t get pregnant again, for unknown reasons.

I have had several women tell me that they WANTED more kids, but it just did not happen.

So not EVERY woman is contracepting. Also, some women have miscarriages.
so they might be getting pregnant, but are unable to bear full term.

Melchior, I’m pleased to hear of some changing attitudes amongst the young about large families. It’s tough to fight against the materialism of the modern world, especially the young, but it sounds like they have taken up the fight. And yes, I’m happy to pray for you and the other couple you mentioned for more children, if it be God’s will.

Lots of large Catholic families in my parish, up to 12 kids in some cases. I find myself gloriously surrounded by little ones at Mass, which is a blessing to a lonely grandmother. I belong to a TLM parish under the care of the priests of the FSSP.

Some of us were bad Catholics who used contraception and married late. We only became faithful Catholics later when the damage was done and we had lost a couple children.

There are others who have had problems conceiving or have married late. Many couples marry later these days. I married at 25 and my wife was about 30, compared to the age of my parents who married much younger.

Then there are plenty of reasons, one large one is the massive falling away and confusion after the council which led many to not practice the faith.

We need the remember the Catholic faith and become faithful again.

God Bless

What’s SSPX, EF, TML etc…??

I agree in large part with moon1234.
Like the others said, the delayed marriages add to it. People nowdays get married in their 30s, can only squeeze in one or two babies by the time they’re 35 and then halt because of potential health risks.
Infertility problems are definitely on the rise, but i still agree that the number 1 reason is moon’s.

In our country, the birth rate is 1.6. Mot are Orthodox and Byzantine Catholics and it really makes you wonder how priests manage to have only one or 2 kids. If the priest thinks it’s ok to stop at 2 because it’s hard what can you expect of the rest?

We were telling the priest in our couples’ group that in America, true, conservative Catholics have big families and everyone jumped on us saying that that’s because they’re all rich.

Funny thing is, 90% of properties here are privately owned!

Anyway, i’m under 30, have three kids and, of ourse, everyone takes it foregranted that we want a big family becuse we’re well off- funny thing is tht we’re the ONLY ones living in rent. As if money breast feeds for you and gets you to sleep all night and makes your kids cry less.

It’s really sad to see that children are no longer considered a blessing. Whether they’re using NFP or ABC they all have the same outlook: children are a burden, they are expensive, they stress you out and who has the time for them?!

Contraception can be easily Replaced as a method of birth control but much less so as a mentality.

1 Like

Wow…that’s fantastic.

A few years ago at our Marriage preparation course there was a man who objected to the fact that as a group we were being given a brief introduction to the Billings Method of NFP.
He did not like 2 things:

  1. The graphic nature of the topics discussed (Billings uses the mucus method)
  2. That NFP should be discussed at all: on the grounds that it should only be being used in grave need.

I can fully understand his viewpoint on both topics, however his overall conclusion was still wrong. We live in a culture that assumes that everyone who is sexually active whether married or not will contracept. It is vital to explain the morally acceptable ways to do this during marriage preparation.

The morrally acceptable understanding of when it is acceptable to use NFP is much more complicated & I feel that it should have been expounded upon more.

To add my personal responses to the questions of larger families above:
I married in my early 30’s. My wife has Gynie problems. Our First Born had to be delivered by C-Section, and the risks of the same story being repeated are high. It took us 3 years of trying to conceived our first son. Our second was conceived after just a couple of months.

Due to health risks in pregnancy in her 40’s my wife does not want to be having more children at that age. (she saw her mother Heamorage in front of her and had to call an ambulance when she was a pre-schooler. - so she’s acutely aware of the risks in her family)
We hope to have 4(ish) children before then. - that’s one every 2 years. With C-Section deliveries you cant safely have babies closer than that (as you are advices to wait at least a year after a C-Section before trying again to give the scar time to heal and gain strength)
She is likely to need a Hysterectomy for medical reasons at some stage - the only reason it has not been don already is that we both very much want children and she is willing to put up with her medical problems to enable that to happen. We will delay as much as possible, but there is always the risk that during or after any delivery that this will be needed as an emergency treatment.

Because of this is is hard to see how more than 4 children will be possible for us.

I don’t see any children at the local EF mass I regularly attend. Very sad, but I am going to work on getting some young people into that parish.:thumbsup:

However, the FSSP parish I received instruction from, which I now attend once a month, is bustling with children. There is a woman there with 10 kids and she looks young and fabulous!

This is an issue that is between God and each couple. No one has a right to speculate or judge or condemn anyone for the decision that is made between them and the Lord.

There are plenty of grave reasons why couples do not have larger families. It’s amazing how many couples honestly can’t have more children, even though they are open to life. I know several young couples who have been unsuccessful, and are consulting with the Pope Paul Institute to figure out their fertility. I agree that late marriage may have something to do with it. People have a lot of misconceptions about fertility, assuming that all people are fertile. Schools do not teach proper biology about fertility, and popular media perpetuates a lot of the incorrect teachings by stating that women can get pregnant at any time of the month.

I think that people with large families have to be careful not to become prideful or boastful. They have been blessed by God. He gives a man and a woman the ability to have children.

I attend a large, rather modern Catholic parish, and there are plenty of families with 4 or more children, and quite a few with 8 or more. So this is not a “traditional” Catholic thing–modern Catholics also have large families. We also have several families in our parish who have adopted large families.

I converted from evangelical Protestantism, and it is definitely becoming the norm for evangelical Protestants to have large families. The pastor of our church and his wife had 10 children (two were deceased). The associate pastor had 7 children. The leading family (money, time, church offices held) had 8 children. My best friend in the church had 6 children. There were other families in the church that I didn’t know personally who had large families. In evangelical magazines and denominational publications, there have been several key articles about the value of children and why Christians need to consider having large families. So it’s not just a “Catholic” thing, either.

One thing that no one has mentioned so far is the cost of having children these days. I agree that children do not need to grow up figure skating or attending a private prep school, which is what my two children had. I have absolutely no problem with families who give their children the bare basics of life (food, shelter, warmth, 2nd hand clothing, home-based recreational opportunities, only the basic health care that is provided by the health department, etc.)

But many couples, due to the state of our economy, or bad educational choices on their part, or just bad luck in the job market, are unable to even provide the basics to themselves, let alone children.

I have a problem when couples continue to have children, but cannot pay the health-care costs for the pregnancies and deliveries, and cannot provide the basics for the children, but instead, feed, house, and provide health care to those children through long-term government aid. I do not believe that these people are justified to continue to have biological children. I’m not sure that this is God’s plan–to have children and force others to care for them.

I think that most of the people in the U.S. are quite hostile toward this practice, and IMO, this could pose a risk to these families and their children. I believe that such couples could lose their children, as the government that they have come to rely on can turn on them and take their children away and place them in foster homes that can provide the basic needs. I would support this practice, as I hate to see children who are suffering due to lack of basic food, warmth, clothing, shelter, or health care.

I think that we will eventually see laws that require sterilization for couples who continue to have “welfare babies.” Yes, forced sterilization is immoral, but forcing others to pay for your children to have decent care is also wrong.

If such a couple has a church or parish that will willingly help them to provide for their large family, then that’s OK. But many parishes balk at providing for children of parents who are unemployable, unless the unemployment has been caused by hardship such as injury, on-going illness (such as cancer), weather disasters (tornado, flood, etc.), or some other tragedy. If a couple has made poor choices earlier in life that led to their unemployability, then I believe a parish should shut the purse and tell the couple to wait to have children until they are in a place where they can care for them without aid. A parish would do well to provide such a couple with educational resources and scholarships for them to attend trade school, community college, or enter an apprenticeship.

Thank you for your prayers. It’s hard because we really want more kids, and it’d probably be easy for us to conceive, but we can’t do it right now. Unless things change, we’re probably looking at two children and a lot of souls leaving purgatory due to offering up certain burdens.

It’s one of those things that make me think twice when I see younger folks at Church with less kids. Sometimes it isn’t because they’re being selfish (although as you and I know, there’s a lot of that that happens too).

Another family in my Church; both used to be Core members, and now have their fourth child on the way. In five and a half years :smiley:

The influence that Blessed John Paul II has had on my generation (I’m 30) and younger cannot be discounted or be taken lightly. His firm beliefs in Humanae Vitae and his work on the Theology of the Body has formed many young adults within the Church.

I am 34. At least in my EF parish, it is the rejection of Humanae Vitae and Theology of the Body that is the cause of most of the large families, at least those I have spoken to. Many of us feel that these two documents along with Gaudium et Spes that have caused so many young people to see nothing wrong with using NFP in a contraceptive mentaility, leading to marraige much later in life, etc.

MANY of the EF young families that “I” know, and this is just my experience, are more attached to the teachings of the pre-conciliar Church and see the previously mentioned documents as some of the biggest problems for why so many people put off children today, it is now acceptable. There is a loss in trust that God will provide. Obviously grave health reasons are one thing, but MOST Catholics are NOT in that situation. MANY modern Catholics have no problem stating they do not WANT more than two children.

I am 30, and at my OF (and my city as a whole) it is the embracing of those two documents that are leading to large families.

Complex issues rarely lend themselves to simplistic explanation. It’s entirely true that the majority of catholics in child bearing years today neither know nor car about church teaching on human sexuality and the inseperable link God created among sex, marriage and babies. (I say inseparable not because you can’t separate them, but because you can’t separate them without doing significant damage to all three in the process)

But there are other issues involved that should lead level headed catholics to avoid chucking rocks at smaller families. Poor fiscal policies at universities have now created a situation where affording an bachelor’s education takes a decade to pay off. Bloated government mismangement of public schools soaks up a massive amount of money from families in taxes and gives back a school system that seems intended to impart a secular humanist philosophy in kids (our kids catholic school is unusually generous for our area, but 5 kids would still run you $10,000 a year there). Housing costs have skyrocketed. The necessities of living in America these days outside the most urban of areas requires a car. These economic burdens are real and play a significant role in making parents wonder if they can provide for more. In some cases, that fear is rationalizing (like the couples with late model cars, annual vacations and big entertainment budgets). In other cases, money is brutally tight even when the frills have been weeded out.

Traditional catholics are also sometimes guilty of distorting the message of Humanae Vitae. In post after post I hear people claim that only a “grave reason” is valid for using NFP to avoid. Read HV again. It’s “serious reason.” That’s an order of magnitude difference in catholic vocabulary. The ability to afford decent education, shelter and health care ARE serious reasons to reflect. God doesn’t command people to have as many kids as possible. His gift of sexuality requires us to recognize the link between intimacy and life and to remain open to that. The genius of NFP is that even during trying to avoid times, the user has his face pushed into the truth and meaning of human sexuality constantly. It never becomes divorced from babies in very concept. This is fundamentally why NFP isn’t the same as condoms (for example).

I live in between worlds, having been married 12 years and with three kids. In the secular world, that’s actually enough to get us some rude comments from the anti-life crowd. It also gets us sideways looks from the “quiver full” (for lack of a better term) crowd. Do we wonder sometimes about our ‘serious reason?’ Of course! If you don’t, something’s wrong. But IMO there is no need to interrogate NFP users about their allegedly serious reason. The interrogation is already built into the system. God’s design for human sexuality is subtle that way. It confronts you without making you defensive. Stick with the still small voice. Worked on me, that’s how we got three (so far)…

Come to my OF parish and you’ll see lots of large families.

I wouldn’t read too much into the portable defibulators relating to an aging congregration. Our parish is relatively young. For the last four weeks we have had a blurb in the bulletin asking if anyone could get a deal on portable defibulators. The parish was required to have two of them on hand due to “a recent safety evaluation.”

I suspect from the safety evaluation is from the insurance company. :shrug:

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.