Saturday, January 30, 2010

delaying the sequel

Okay, I'll be honest. I wrote the next post, The Pros to Having a Large Family, but I've delayed posting it. After reading all of the comments on the last post, I don't want to offend anyone. Yes, there are pros. Ask anyone who has a large family, and they'll tell you that there are many up-sides and advantages. It's fun, entertaining, and beneficial to the kids in many ways. Hard sometimes, but worth every minute of it. However, I know there are also advantages to having one. Or two. And I do realize that there are people who would love to have children and can't. Or would love to have more and can't. It's touchy.

I will post the next segment soon, but first wanted to clarify that my intention was/is not to say that one family size is better than another. It's really more a Defense of the Large Family. Because I'm apparently in the "large family" category now, I've heard a lot of ridiculous and presumptuous comments, and I'm attempting to counter those. The posts I had planned are really written to the Person Who Would Criticize My Choices (or the choices of my friend, which is what really set me off.) Most parents with more than two children are finding that "large families" are being subtly (or sometimes noisily) discouraged.

If only everyone had common sense.

For the Family-Size Critical Person:

Say nothing to the couple who has been married 5+ years and doesn't have children yet. Don't ask, or comment. Don't make jokes about biological clocks or other downright stupid things. Unless you are a close friend, and you are tactful and kind, you shouldn't even consider saying or asking anything. Maybe they are choosing to wait. Nothing wrong with that. Maybe they have decided not to have children. Most people who decide not to have children probably shouldn't. If you don't want kids, don't have them. Makes sense. Or maybe they would love to, and it hasn't been physically possible. You don't know their story, so don't presume to. Butt out.

From experience, I can tell you that it is especially painful when someone asks "so, are you done having kids now?" right after you've had a miscarriage.

Don't say anything to the couple who has one child. Sometimes they are simply waiting until the right time to have more. Or maybe they've decided that one is the right size for their family. There's nothing wrong with that. I know many perfectly happy, well-rounded intelligent only children. There is nothing wrong with being an only child. They will not "suffer," so don't imply that they will. In fact, consider that the mother of an only child often has a harder job (she is not sitting around eating bon bons all day while her only child reads quietly for hours on end.) She may not deal with sibling rivalry, but she must play many more roles. Now that my children are all old enough to really play house and tag together, I have more time to pursue some of my interests and get other things done... (advantage for large families.)

Also, consider that many people deal with secondary infertility and it may be difficult to hear judgment about their "choice" to have an only child.

Then there's the "perfect" American dream family of two children. Two is a great number. There is nothing wrong with having two. The only thing wrong is when someone believes every couple should limit their family to one or two children. It's perfect for many people, but not God's plan for others.

For this family, two is perfect.

What it comes down to is this: Let other people live their lives. If you can't say something NICE, then don't say anything at all. No suggestions or "helping" unless someone explicitly asks for your advice on how many children they should have (psh- yeah, right.) You, Family-Criticizer, are not all-knowing. You could not possibly know what is best for my family. Or my sister's family. Or my friend's family. You can only know what is best for yours. And if more people would focus on truly doing what is best for their own families, they would have far less time to belittle the choices of others. So, when I happily tell you that I would love to have more children through adoption someday, you can say something truly encouraging and helpful, or nothing at all. When my friend asks for prayer concerning the timing of having more children, you can-- imagine this-- offer prayer. And love and encouragement. Or just prayer, if you can't think of something nice to say.

When a friend says that she's decided one child is perfect for her family you can-- imagine it-- say "That sounds great; I'm sure you're making the right choice for your family." Or smile and say nothing, if you must.

On and on, just imagine the scenarios of treating people as you would want to be treated; letting people live their own lives; being a friend who gives genuine love and support. Oh, wouldn't it be nice if all in-laws, friends, and strangers could abide by the golden rule!


Anonymous said...

Wendy, a verse that reinforces what you're saying and has been a favorite of mine all my life is 1 Corinthians 4:3, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self . . . but He that judgeth me is the Lord."
I love that "very small thing" Another one is the one that says we don't seek to please men, but God. Love, Papaw

Ann-Marie said...

You like to stir things up, girl! :-) I read your first and second post on family size. Let me just say as an only child myself - and with an only child - that you have always treated me with the sweetest spirit. I've never felt judged but supported. I like how your "big" family and my "little" family all fit in God's perfect plan. Love you and yours!

Sun-Kissed Scholars said...

Aw, thanks! I love ya, Ann-Marie, and I'm glad you know it! :-)

Julie said...

I love your blogs you are so straight forward with what you want to say and I love that about you. Sorry I have not talked to you in a while hope you guys are doing okay. You have the sweetest heart I don't know how anyone could be offended.

Sun-Kissed Scholars said...

Ah-- but therein lies the problem for me, Julie. I am straight-forward most of the time. I don't *think* anyone was offended, but decided to offer additional disclaimers because my straight-from-the-hip words don't always sit well with the beat-around-the-bush crowd. ;-)
I miss you, too, girl. When the weather warms up a bit, we'd love to have all over for a firepit night. :-)

Mandy said...

Oh girl, you were not offensive! I'm straight-forward too and I worry about what I say a lot, that it'll be too blunt for someone else and taken in the totally wrong way.

Great post! I REALLY don't understand why people spend any time at all worrying about how many kids one family has, be it many or few or none. If YOU'RE happy with YOUR family.. what else matters?

If having 3 kids isn't as good to you as a family that only has 2, fine.. just have 2! lol Leave my family out of it 'cuz we're just fine. :)

I'm with you on hoping to add to our family via adoption. I'm waiting for Samuel to get older, but we are getting into some neat stuff with our local Baptist Children's Home - if you have something similar in your area feel free to contact me and maybe you could get in on it too. To me, it's a very very small step in the right direction. :)

For the record, I really think moms with just one child have it HARDER. I really appreciate that I can send mine to play together and i'm not the only playmate. I have a couple of friends that chose to only have 1 and they both love it and hate it. I think that could go for any number of kids! lol

sara's art house said...

I totally agree with you- God has different plans for everyone and if someone has a large family -it is a beautiful thing!!!