Weekend question: How many kids are too many?

People magazine cover, Duggars, How many kids are too many.jpgThis week's People magazine cover story features Michelle, Jim Bob, and Josie Duggar, and it asks the inevitable question asked every time the Duggars have another baby, "How many kids are too many?"

They say they're leaving the kid count up to God...

Having a mega-family turned the devoutly Christian couple into reality sensations: Their TLC show 19 Kids and Counting... is in its 3rd season.... But for every fan of the show - the TLC special covering Josie's birth garnered more than 3 million viewers - there have been detractors in online chat rooms, on parenting Web sites and within the medical community, who have been critical each time Michelle has announced a new pregnancy on average every 18 months....

"I think that's too many kids," says Dr. Douglas Downey, a general surgeon based in FL. "From a family resource perspective, there is no way you can give the emotional and financial resources you would need to support that may children...."

But the Duggars, who don't use any contraception, remain committed to their belief that "each child is a gift from God" and are open to having more....

Josie duggar, michelle, people photo.jpg

Michelle acknowledges that she has never before encountered the sort of challenges she will face while parenting a preemie. "It is not as if we're going for another [baby] immediately. This is going to be a year of different focus for me, getting Josie through her 1st year of life."

Even without a preemie to care for, the Duggars would not normally conceive for several months. Taking a cue from the Bible, the couple practice 40 days of abstinence after have a boy; 80 days after having a girl. "Not that we feel like we are under the Old Testament law," explains Jim Bob. "But there are spiritual benefits that come from that." Agrees Michelle: "It strengthens our relationship."...

the duggars 20 and counting.jpg

Critics who believe the Duggar children are a strain on government finances can rest easy: The Duggars live debt free in a 7k-sq. ft. home they built themselves, and Josie's medical costs are covered by insurance. They've made their living by being frugal, profitable real-estate investments and earnings from their book The Duggars: 20 and Counting! and their TLC show. "People see debt as a gift and children as a burden," says Jim Bob. "Not us. Debt is a burden, and children are a blessing."

So how do you answer People's question? And as an aside, I don't recall reading the Bible's post-birth coital instructions. Must be in Leviticus, which I confess I tend to gloss over. Fascinating. Any insights on that from scholars in the crowd?

[HT: proofreader Laura Loo]


Comments:

Leviticus 12:1-5 (ESV) The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, ‘If a woman conceives and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days. As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying. She shall not touch anything holy, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation. And she shall continue in the blood of her purifying for sixty-six days.

Posted by: Doug at February 6, 2010 9:02 AM


Two of their boys were just in the news, briefly, this week for coming to the aid of an auto accident and helping a six year old girl to safety. Too bad the media cannot focus on the positive's of this family. I think that it is awesome that they are so open to life. God bless all of them!

Posted by: krystal at February 6, 2010 9:08 AM


I'm not trying to sound mean but: since Michelle Duggar is pro-life, she should know better than to use language like "first year of life" to mean "through the first birthday." Her baby has been alive since conception.

I could never imagine myself having that many children, but the Duggars seem to be doing just fine. I wish them the best.

Posted by: Kelsey at February 6, 2010 9:09 AM


Any period of abstinence is more self-control than those that oppose their children would exercise themselves.

Posted by: Jacqueline at February 6, 2010 9:11 AM


What a sick question. What the heck is wrong with People magazine? Yes, children are things to be owned. They are possessions like cars or houses. Sure, I can see some multi-millionaire owning 6 houses... but 10 houses? That's a bit much! Same deal with children, right?

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at February 6, 2010 9:12 AM


My guess is if we really spent a lot of responses trying to figure out where that line would be, it would come down to the question that People tackled in regards to affordability. The Duggers situation seems unconventional but not reckless, while I think the general consensus was that Octomom was reckless.

Posted by: Ex-GOP Voter at February 6, 2010 9:13 AM


Yeah, there is a TON of scary/weird stuff in the Old Testament. It's the main reason I can't say I'm a Christian. Any search for misogynistic bible verses will give you a nice list of gems [such as http://bit.ly/75UYfq ].

But I love the Duggars. Plus, someone needs to help stop the population decline!

Posted by: Genevieve40 at February 6, 2010 9:13 AM


Genevive40 - you know, there's a ton of crazy stuff in early American law, but I still consider myself an American. And that was thousands of years after the OT stuff.

The OT stuff was for people at that time. I'm not saying all the laws are irrelevant, but Jesus came in place of those laws, and if you read the new testament, I think you'll get a feel for the appreciation of what the law was, but where it fits in everyday life for Christians.

Look - I'm not going to be preachy here - but of all the reasons to throw out Christianity, that is one that is easily explainable and holds proper context.

Plus - for left-leaning Christian folks like me, the OT can be a lot of fun. Next time people start talking about the need to implement laws based on beliefs held mostly in the Bible (and Obama actually gave a great speech on why Christians need to explain their positions outside of just Biblical context) - ask if we should implement the year of Jubilee? I think it would be a fabulous idea, though might lead to a total collapse of our economic system. Or maybe some of the rules of tending to our fields and leaving things for the poor. Interesting stuff.

Posted by: Ex-GOP Voter at February 6, 2010 9:19 AM


The underlying theme is that children are a bother and a nuisance. I have a friend who was on wife swap as a homeschooling Christian mother of 8 who is in the process of adopting a special needs child from another country. Anyway they tried to portray her as a joke but the joke was on them as she came off very well. I have another friend who is a homeschooling mother of 9 and she says that people keep asking her when she is going to get fixed and she says I am not broken. Good response

Posted by: Maria at February 6, 2010 9:27 AM


Maria - I don't think that underlying theme is that - it's affordability and social responsibility. I mean, if the family was on welfare and two of the kids had been in trouble with the law, the conversation would be much different. Again, remember Octomom.

Posted by: Ex-GOP Voter at February 6, 2010 9:29 AM


I may be in the minority here, but I think that when you've had 19 kids and the newest one barely survived and both mom and baby were in danger . . . you've had enough.

I'm as Christian and as pro-life as they come. I love babies and want some of my own, and I admire and respect most people who have big families. But I just don't believe that God calls people to keep putting themselves, their bodies, and their families under this kind of enormous strain. I'm sorry, but I don't. I've read a lot about the Quiverfull movement and related movements lately (yes, I realize the Duggars don't openly identify with it, but there are a lot of similarities), and I'm very uncomfortable with the amount of legalism involved. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free."

Posted by: Gina at February 6, 2010 9:31 AM


"I have another friend who is a homeschooling mother of 9 and she says that people keep asking her when she is going to get fixed and she says I am not broken. Good response."

Yes! This is one thing I don't understand. People have properly functioning organs, and yet they take action specifically to obstruct that proper function. I honestly don't know why, if we as a society have accepted that, that we shouldn't then accept any destruction of any properly functioning organs or body parts. Shouldn't I be allowed to have my hands cut off by medical experts if I don't want them anymore? Now this becomes a debate about is that a good enough reason. I assume the response would be that people don't want children anymore. But what if I don't want to be able to pick things up anymore? I just don't see how a solid line can be drawn at this point.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at February 6, 2010 9:34 AM


'How many children is too many?' is the wrong question. Turn it in on itself.

How many PREVENTED pregnancies are too many?

How many prevented nurses, therapists, scientists, physicians, artists, ministers, priests, honorable politicians, teachers, etc... are too many?

How many prevented pregnancies in Europe are allowing radical Islamists to outpopulate Christian Europe by the middle of this century?

And finally, how many prevented pregnancies does it take to choke the life out of sacrificial love?

I doubt that People (which would have a larger circulation if there weren't so many PREVENTED people) has the stomach to tackle those questions. Doing so might prevent readers from subscribing.

Posted by: Gerard Nadal at February 6, 2010 9:35 AM


Neither People Magazine nor any doctor or anyone else has the right to criticize this family or question whether they have "too many." They are responsible, self-sufficient, debt-free, loving parents, and the kids are respectful, well-educated, decent, kind, responsible, and hard-working. They helped build their house with their own hands, and they look out for each other.

I'll take all the Duggar kids any day over most people's one or two bratty, selfish, irresponsible, immoral kids.

I say God bless the Duggars and their incredibly beautiful family, and I pray that little Josie grows strong and healthy and goes home real soon.

The rest of the world could learn a lot from this family.

Posted by: Jennifer at February 6, 2010 9:39 AM


Hi Gina.

I think you actually hit on an important point which is that not everyone is called to have as many children as the Duggars. In fact, there may be some (like me) who desire a large family but who may be only blessed with 1, 2 or no children. So I think having the opposite attitude (I need as many children as possible) is just as incorrect as forcing a limit on the number of children. All in all, I think the best line of action is for one to continue to conform their will to that of God's, and just pray that you have as many or as few children as the Lord desires. God love you.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at February 6, 2010 9:40 AM


Why does no one ever ask 'how many children are too few'? Childless and one-child couples collect social security at just the same rate as parents of ten or more, but they don't provide enough future social-security taxpayers to pay for their own future benefits.

Yet no one is out there complaining that they are not making the correct choice.

We need to change our culture into one where we respect the privacy of other people in cases like this.

Posted by: nissa_amas_katoj at February 6, 2010 9:55 AM


There is no such thing as too many children.

Posted by: Bethany at February 6, 2010 10:05 AM


I do worry about the health of Michelle Duggar, but she's obviously aware of what her body can take (how can you not when you've had nineteen children?). I'm going to agree with Kelsey. I wish that she wouldn't refer to this as the first year of her life- it's not. But I hope that the baby is okay and that she makes a full recovery.

In a family the size of the Duggars, my chief concerns are a). carbon footprint and b). health of the children. Since I've read that the family has a smaller carbon footprint then most families of four, they obviously don't have an issue in that category. Of course that still leaves the all-important question of, "Are the children getting the attention that they need?" I don't have television, but, from what I've heard, they take good care of their children and work as a cohesive unit where everyone has a part to play and they all belong to this circle. It's seems fine to me.

Although I do think that people need to consider the seriousness and responsibility of having nineteen children (I don't see that happening in my future- I don't want one child let alone nineteen), then I wish them health and prosperity. I don't want to judge.

Posted by: Vannah at February 6, 2010 10:10 AM


I don't think it's anybody's business how many children somebody has. The Duggars are loving, resposible people who are raising good, resposible children. The world population OVERALL is dwindling. People become elderly and, if too many young people are prevented from being born, who is going to be there to take care of those elderly people? The world is also full of "bad" people (murderers, rapists, pedophiles, etc.)Why not fill the planet with more GOOD people, like the Duggars are doing? Can't have too much GOOD in the world. :)

Posted by: Pamela at February 6, 2010 10:22 AM


Why is it anyone's business how many kids the Duggers have? Its a private decision between a woman, her doctor and her God. (sound familiar?)


The Duggar kids are all well-spoken, kind, respectful kids. They are all fed and clothed. I think Michelle is a great mom. I can't imagine having 19 kids myself but the Duggars aren't on welfare. They are taking care of themselves and producing great citizens. They are doing a great job!

Posted by: Sydney M at February 6, 2010 10:23 AM


It's almost as if they're happy that Josie was born early so they can say "AHAH! Gotcha!"

The fact is, Michelle had a random gallbladder issue that could have happened to any of us at any time. As for the pre-eclampsia, that too could happen to any woman during any pregnancy, and is actually more common during first pregnancies than later ones.

My first baby was a preemie. It really, really irritates me that people act as though you've done something wrong if you have a preemie. The truth is there isn't a lot the mother can do to prevent prematurity. If she's taking care of herself at even a base level, she's doing all she can possibly do.

Sorry, off the soapbox.

Posted by: Lauren at February 6, 2010 10:23 AM


Hi Vannah,

Don't concern yourself with the "carbon footprint". Its a crock. Also a great scam that would make PT Barnum proud.

My daughter gave me a fascinating book with facts and figures dating back centuries. Lest we think our ancestors lived so pristinely.....
1. People relieved themselves when and where they wanted and even the finest palaces smelled like outhouses. This attracted insects and spread disease, not to mention the methane.

2. People relied on wood and coal. Forests would be stripped and the CO2 absorption function reduced.

3. Personal hygiene was a luxury. Flea infested clothing helped spread the plague in Europe. Imagine the gases and pollution given off by all the decomposing bodies from not only the plague, but the warfare, famines, and natural disasters when thousands would be left to decompose where they fell.

Let's go back farther. Dinosaurs must have certainly blasted an abundance of methane and CO2 heavenward and did so for millions of years. Also let's not forget Mother Nature and her perpetually erupting volcanoes with toxic gases that ascend into the stratosphere, oil seepage from beneath the sea beds, and forest fires started by lightening that release tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

We can't hold a candle to Mother Nature when it comes to destructive forces so don't concern yourself with this "carbon footprint" horse puckey.

Posted by: Mary at February 6, 2010 10:26 AM


It IS their decision and I would never presume to say they shouldn't be able to make that decision. That way totalitarianism lies.

However, I hope that they made the decision for the right reasons and not because of some legalistic requirement of their faith. That way religious burnout lies. I've seen it far too often.

Posted by: Gina at February 6, 2010 10:29 AM


LOL...that's ok, Lauren. Is there room on that soapbox for me? My second baby was a preemie( we lost our first little one, I had a miscarriage)I did everything I was supposed to be doing, and she was STILL a preemie(33 weeks), because I developed pre-eclampsia.

Posted by: Pamela at February 6, 2010 10:35 AM


It's not for me to tell other people how many children to have. If the Duggars have the means to raise a huge family and their kids are doing well, that's fine with me.
But what gets my goat is the utterly disingenuous way anti-choicers use giant families like this as an excuse to advocate denying other women who are in far less favorable circumstances
the right to choose what to do with their bodies
and control their own lives.
But it's totally unrealistic to expect every one to have large families like this;it's often difficult even for people who aren't poor today to afford three or four children.
And it's pie in the sky to think that if we just outlaw abortion,everything will be hunky dory, and somehow,miraculously, we'll be able to take good care of all the children born, and that this will provide us with a lot more doctors,scientists,philanthropists,statesmen,
and other people who will do a lot of good for the world.
It's not that simple. First of all, what lack of people today? The world's population has more than doubled in the past 50 years. And it does not have unlimited supplies of food,water,fuel,energy and other necessities.
And saying that the whole world population would fit into a tiny area is either naive or disingenuous.
You folks don't realize that there are vast areas of the world which are totally uninhabitable, or which could never support more than a small population.
Do you really think that Greenland will ever be able to support 300 million people? Or Mongolia,
and the vast desert areas of the world, or the coldest? Come on. We're already starting to interfere with nature with expanding populations all over the world which have been encroaching on areas where wild animals live, and dangerous wild animals are becoming a serious problem, such as bears,wolves,coyotes and mountain lions.
And furthermore, over the centuries, countless potential productive adults never had the chance to grow up because of infant mortality,miscarriages,abortions,which are nothing new, etc.
And in the past,infanticide was very common.
Countless children have been left to die because
it was considered acceptable to do so, such as in ancient Rome, for example.
Which is not to say that I in any way advocate doing this today.
Get realistic,people.

Posted by: Robert Berger at February 6, 2010 10:43 AM


The basic question, I think, is "How many children will I allow God to give me?" Once we take the decision-making into our own hands, we have begun playing God with that part of our selves and lives. Are we then "fully committed" to Him? If we trust Him enough with our eternity, why can't we trust him enough to time our offspring? I trusted Him and He gave me one natural-born child, though I desired many more. I have accepted that He knows best and a review of my 50+ years proves that He does, indeed. Michelle and Jim Bob trust Him and he has given them 19 AND kept them out of debt. It is a testament to their faith.

Think of the number of young girls who don't know Him or don't trust Him if they do know Him, and decide to have intercourse outside of the blessing of marriage, relying instead on hormonal birth control or condoms; then conceiving a child because of failed birth control, and then choosing abortion. Their decision to not trust God has led to death and destruction. That is the natural evolution of Margaret Sanger's crusade for "The Feminist Spirit" and "A woman's right to CONTROL her body and time her children" through birth control. Birth control was Sanger's battle cry, not abortion - abortion is just the next step. The one after that is infanticide of unwanted children who are already born.

I am astounded at the number of Christians who rail against Planned Parenthood and their founder Sanger, all the while insisting on the "right" to use artificial means of birth control to "time" their children. In doing so, they are agreeing with the premise Planned Parenthood is built upon, and lining up in agreement with Sanger's eugenicist legacy - that being that some children have more of a right to life than others.

I am further astounded at the number of Christian doctors and pastors who do not educate people about hormonal contraceptives/IUD's, etc., and the abortifacient properties of those types of birth control methods.

You might ask "So you think I should just have as many children as God will give me?" My answer to you is: Yes, I think you should trust Him completely. The only Biblical representation of birth control portrayed it as a sin (Onan).

BTW - before you ask, I am NOT a Roman Catholic.

I would have never written these thoughts/beliefs on Jill's blog uninvited, but since the question was asked, this is really what I think the Bible teaches and this is probably the primary reason why the Prolife movement is not winning more quickly.

I think there is room for couples and their physician to decide when additional pregnancies would endanger the life of the woman and take medical means (i.e., tubal ligation) to ensure that she would not be in danger. I am not a legalist by any means and believe that Christians need to examine this entire question Biblically and determine what God's Word says about reproduction and birth control. But many Christians I know avoid the question because they know what the answer will be.

Posted by: Amy at February 6, 2010 10:54 AM


Hmmmm Robert,
Would we have the problem with social security underfunding today if we had not aborted 50++million lives. They would be in the workplace. Today on the news they said that we have just 2 workers to support every retiree.

This is a good weekend for pro life movement. The Duggars on the cover of People and the Tebow ad on the Super Bowl on Sunday. Life what a beautiful choice and how angry it makes those who champion death as in abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research.

Posted by: Susie at February 6, 2010 10:55 AM


The world's population has more than doubled in the past 50 years. And it does not have unlimited supplies of food,water,fuel,energy and other necessities.

Robert, the debate will change, going forward in time, as more and more people are confronted by severe shortage and a lower standard of living.

Posted by: Doug at February 6, 2010 11:00 AM


The difference between contraception and abortion is a pretty obvious one to me. Abortion violates the right to life of a living human being; deciding not to conceive children does not. Should couples take their faith and values into account when talking about contraception? Of course. But it isn't the secular human rights issue that abortion is.

Posted by: Kelsey at February 6, 2010 11:00 AM


I agree with Kelsey on the issue of birth control.

Posted by: Vannah at February 6, 2010 11:07 AM


Here's a tip, Robert: whenever someone says something like "get realistic," it's a huge red flag that they've never really read much of this blog and are unaware that these kinds of things come up in the comments ALL THE TIME. Trust me, no one's reading your comment and thinking, "Wow, Robert! I never thought of any of those arguments before! I was so ignorant and narrow-minded and you've just enlightened me!" Neither Jill nor any of the regular commenters here are amateurs when it comes to arguments over abortion. Either you're seriously underestimating us or you're out of your league.

As for the question of "how many children are too many," I dare them to wait eighteen years and ask Josie that question to her face.

Posted by: Marauder at February 6, 2010 11:20 AM


I'll take all the Duggar kids any day over most people's one or two bratty, selfish, irresponsible, immoral kids.

Posted by: Jennifer at February 6, 2010 9:39 AM
**************************

Amen to that, Jennifer!

The Duggars are supporting their own family, so I really don't see how it's anyone's business how many children they choose to have.

Posted by: Kel at February 6, 2010 11:32 AM


I think they may put a longer time between Josie and a next baby, just for Michelle's health's sake. Since Josh is out of the house, and married, they now have 9 of each at home, well, they will when Josie goes home.

I watched the birth special. Forgot to watch Tuesday's premiere though.

Posted by: LizFromNebraska at February 6, 2010 11:37 AM


Amy - Onan's sin was not the fact that he was avoiding pregnancy. Onan's sin was using Tamar as a sexual object while defrauding her of the child he was morally/legally required/expected to give her. He didn't do it, because the child would not be reckoned as his - it would have been counted as belonging to his deceased brother (Tamar's deceased husband), and would decrease Onan's share of the inheritance from his father. The child would also not have carried on Onan's family name. The prevention of conception wasn't the focus of that passage or the substance of Onan's sin - his despicable treatment of Tamar was. Tamar's only hope for a child (who would not only carry on her husband's legacy but would take care of her when she was older) was taken away by Onan, who wanted to get his sexual satisfaction without giving any benefit to Tamar.

With all that being said, I do believe that any abortifacient birth control method (hormonal methods, IUDs, etc.) is morally wrong.

Posted by: army_wife at February 6, 2010 12:14 PM


Hi Army Wife.

The punishment for refusing to fulfill the duty of the brother-in-law is given in Deuteronomy 25: 7-9.

7 However, if a man does not want to marry his brother's wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, "My husband's brother refuses to carry on his brother's name in Israel. He will not fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to me." 8 Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, "I do not want to marry her," 9 his brother's widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, "This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother's family line."

Here we see that the punishment is to "take off one of his sandals, spit in his face", a punishment hardly comparable to death. Because the punishment for refusing to fulfill the duty is so light, it is highly unlikely that God would have stuck Onan dead for refusing fulfill the duty. Rather, the only other detail the story mentions is the spilling of his seed, and we thus assume that it was because of this contraceptive act that Onan was struck dead.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at February 6, 2010 12:27 PM


Of all places, Jezebel has some interesting conversation/analysis going on the Leviticus passage. Take the good, ignore the bad...

http://jezebel.com/comment/19086633/

Posted by: Jill Stanek Author Profile Page at February 6, 2010 12:38 PM


Liz 11:37am

Another issue is that a premature baby will demand much more time, specialized care, and attention. She's not someone who can be put on an older sibling to care for or easily passed around and handled by children.
Michelle and Jim will have their hands full and for this reason putting off another pregnancy, and heaven forbid any possible pregnancy complications, is certainly desirable.

There is also concern that little Josie is at risk for complications. Sorry but there is no getting past that fact.

She will need parents who are able to dedicate much time and attention solely to her.

Posted by: Mary at February 6, 2010 12:43 PM


This has been an interesting discussion to watch unfold in light of what I've seen (other people - not sure on this board) say about others out there:

The Duggers are doing fine and have the right amount of kids - but Octomom was a disgrace.

The Duggers have great kids and the show is interesting to watch - but Jon and Kate and the show exploited there kids.

I think there's no real right answer on this. I have friends who have chosen not to have kids, and for the, that's right. For the Duggers, what they have is right.

Posted by: Ex-GOP Voter at February 6, 2010 1:09 PM


"...but they don't provide enough future social-security taxpayers to pay for their own future benefits."

what a sweet way to think of children.

Posted by: Hal at February 6, 2010 1:32 PM


The Duggars have had their children one pregnancy at a time, the natural way, within the holy bonds of matrimony. Father and mother are both present to care for the children.

Octomom's situation is the complete opposite, and is a brilliant example of why conception outside the sexual act is wrong. Making babies in labs and test tubes is wrong. We are not God and do not have the right to engineer human life, then decide we'll only implant two or three, hoping only one makes it to term.

Or in Octomom's case, obviously many more children were placed in her womb, and while it is good that they survived, it should never have been done in the first place.

Posted by: Jennifer at February 6, 2010 1:34 PM


How many kid are too many?


I don't know..........................yet!

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at February 6, 2010 1:53 PM


I think a family has too many kids when the parents aren't the only ones doing the parenting anymore. Siblings shouldn't have to parent each other, it's an unfair burden. If a family can have 19 kids and not place the responsibility of childcare on the older children, great.

Posted by: Erin at February 6, 2010 1:56 PM


Erin, you make a good point. Of course older siblings should help out, but there are some families that think the older siblings should do NOTHING BUT help out, and have no lives or education or goals of their own. (I don't know if this is true of the Duggars.) That, I think, is where the line is crossed.

Posted by: Gina at February 6, 2010 1:59 PM


This is a very interesting discussion, but the question is misleading. A woman has to have sex to get pregnant while she ia fertile - 8 days/lunar month.

In Catholic theology procreation is only one of the main objectives of intercourse. It does not follow that because a woman CAN get pregnant, she SHOULD get pregnant. And following the former is somehow God's will ... fantasy and delusion!

A quiver-full is a great OT analogy and ranks right up there with the sower in Jesus' parables. But the seed is not thrown willy-nilly by the sower, but he tries very hard to spread his seed on good soil. An arrow (to be effective) is carefully crafted.

In certain ancient cultures a husband did not have intercourse with his wife for two years after a birth of their child. [It is about the same time as weaning.] In this way nutrient stores of thee mother are replenished. A man who attempted sex with his wife before this 2 years was shunned as being unmanly.

Perhaps using such a strategy ensures smaller families and healthier ones too.

Posted by: John McDonell at February 6, 2010 2:17 PM


Posted by: Bobby Bambino at February 6, 2010 12:27 PM

"Rather, the only other detail the story mentions is the spilling of his seed, and we thus assume that it was because of this contraceptive act that Onan was struck dead."

--------------------------------------------------

Bobby,

There is one other detail that is not mentioned in the passages you referenced but it might shed just a little light on why GOD dealt so harshly with Judah's sons.

Matt 1:1-3 The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. 3

Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar...

Heb 7:9-10 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. NASU

By the same concept Jesus was in the loins of Judah and his sons.

In the absence of any specific prohibition in the 'law' against coitus interrutpus or masturbation, the act of coitus interruptus or masturbation were not likely the cause for God's severe response. It was more likely the specific result of the act in this specific circumstance.

I am not advocating or condoning coitus interrupus or mastubation or contraception.

Just pointing out, Cliff Cleaven would say, "A little known fact."

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at February 6, 2010 2:34 PM


Bobby,

One other thought. It adds a little more meaning to the passages:

Jer 1:12 Then the Lord said to me, "You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it ." NASU

Isa 55:11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. NASU


Gen 49:10 " The scepter shall not depart from Judah ,Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. NASU

Gen 22:16-19 ... " By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you [Abraham] have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." NASU

Willfull sin and outright disobedience are one thing. God seems to have some patience and tolerance. But even inadvertently defying GOD's eternal purpose and devine plan is not a safe place to be.

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at February 6, 2010 2:55 PM


I have never read or heard the Duggars say they have sex with the intent in mind to conceive another child.

They do not seem to be concerned with breaking any kind of record.

They sure seem to love, value and appreciate every one of their children.

Out of necessity they have do a lot of planning, but I do not believe they 'planned' any of their children but rather have trusted in GOD's plan for them and their children's lives.

Seems to be working out pretty good for them.

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at February 6, 2010 3:04 PM


"How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers."

-Blessed (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta

Posted by: Paladin at February 6, 2010 3:38 PM


Bethany, I agree.

I think they are an amazing family with happy, well adjusted, mature and obedient children!! The horror!
They know what they are doing. They love their children.

Posted by: carla Author Profile Page at February 6, 2010 3:42 PM


Isn't is Michelle's body? Can't she do whatever she wants with her body? Her body, her choice. :P

Posted by: carla Author Profile Page at February 6, 2010 3:52 PM


Some one here said that because of contraception and abortion we are depriving the world of so many potential doctors,scientists and other people who could do the world a lot of good.
But if people everywhere just had as many children as possible with no regard for the consequencs there would also be a lot more
vicious criminals,murderers,violent psychopaths,
child abusers,political demagogues,religious fanatics, and more Hitlers,Stalins,Maos, and Pol Pots. That's the other side of the coin.

Posted by: Robert Berger at February 6, 2010 4:01 PM


Whatever RB.

Posted by: carla Author Profile Page at February 6, 2010 4:40 PM


Bobby Bambino wrote:
I think you actually hit on an important point which is that not everyone is called to have as many children as the Duggars. In fact, there may be some (like me) who desire a large family but who may be only blessed with 1, 2 or no children.

I agree! I have seen my high school and college classmates, as well as family members, who are my age, who are married and have gone on to have two to three children, while my husband and I have been married for two years, and while we are open to the possibility of children, we have been unable to conceive due to infertility issues. My husband and I have been asked a number of times by well-meaning individuals, when I am going to become pregnant and when we are we going to have children and each time they ask, and when I see friends ultrasound photos and photos of them with their children, my heart aches because I would love to have a child, but I don't know that we can (we can't afford the infertility treatments and domestic adoption is too expensive for us right now).

Posted by: Rachael C. at February 6, 2010 5:08 PM


I am reticent to applaud any family as presented within the context of a reality series, but from what little of them I have seen, it appears that the children are healthy, educated and well adjusted.

I would not judge this family for remaining open to the possibility of future pregnancies, nor would I judge would-be-parents who seek medical intervention to aid in conception. Nor would I judge parents who sought out ways to decrease their chances of conceiving in order to better support the children that they have.

Whatever this family decides to do regarding having additional children shouldn't be up for public debate as it doesn't impact the public. As they are financially self-sufficient they are not burdening anyone else with the financial burden. I believe that these adults are perfectly capable of deciding what is best for themselves and their large family.

I think that many types of family can provide children with the love and attention that they deserve. Sure, there are many discourses that tout preference for certain types of parents due to age, socioeconomic background, marital status, sexual orientation, etc but frankly, I think that children need the love and guidance of a family that wants them, so matter what that family looks like.

It is difficult for nearly any family to meet the requirements of the perfect family mold. There are many single parents, due to divorce, death, or due to absentee partners. There are many non-parent "parents" ie grandparents/aunts and uncles as parents due to death or absence of biological parents. There are same-sex parents. I wish that people acknowledged that there are different types of families that can raise healthy children.
I think this has been a major failing of the pro-life movement.
People are so quick to regulate the way that others conceptualize family.

I wonder if more pregnant women would choose to continue their pregnancy if there were people who told them that their family of two could be beautiful and healthy, too. I wonder if more pregnant teenagers would raise their babies with their parents, if teen and parents didn't feel ashamed of their non traditional family.


Families are people bound together by love, whether it is a family of two or a family of twenty.


Posted by: elle at February 6, 2010 5:13 PM


People need to leave this family alone! I'm on skype. My skype ID is rj.sandefur feel free to hit me up! RJ

Posted by: RJ Sandefur at February 6, 2010 5:52 PM


Well, they do happen to have a TV show for the specific purpose of showing everyone their family. I'm not saying that's a free invitation to shower them with criticism; there should be a certain level of respect, especially when there are kids involved. But still, if you've deliberately made your childbearing choices the subject of a television series, you're not exactly asking people to leave you alone.

Posted by: Gina at February 6, 2010 5:58 PM


some good points made.
First off, it is Michelle's body so she can make that "choice" can't she?
Why do liberal thinkers always believe that children in large families somehow are deprived? Deprived of what? An education? A cruise vacation?

Secondly, Bobby makes a good point that maybe this couple is fulfilling God's plan for them - to have a very large family. Not every couple will be called to this.
I know I wanted to have a very large family but it was obvious after my 3rd child that this was likely NOT going to be the case. :(

Thirdly, I think many people today unfortunately believe that the "will"of God is for them to have only one child. :| Too bad. There are many couples who could shed the excess material trappings and open their hearts and homes to a few more babies...

My only concern is that in situations like this the older children do not become solely responsible for the care of the younger children and that all the children have their emotional needs met.

Posted by: angel at February 6, 2010 6:24 PM


I agree with Elle's post. :)

Posted by: Vannah at February 6, 2010 6:55 PM


"...but they don't provide enough future social-security taxpayers to pay for their own future benefits."

what a sweet way to think of children.

Posted by: Hal at February 6, 2010 1:32 PM


Really, it is just an accurate way to describe the perverse incentives of socialist policies. Social security is a pyramid scheme which perversely incentivizes the diminution of the source of its own funding.

Posted by: hippie at February 6, 2010 7:17 PM


Wonderful family, refreshing, true & wonderful perspective they have on family, marriage, love, life and provision- excellent role models. God has given them many kids to love and model for & teach- they are doing just that. Many blessings be upon them. God bless Josie.

Posted by: Jill Riter at February 6, 2010 7:26 PM


I don't see anything wrong with older siblings helping out. It's a natural, wonderful way to practice unselfishness and learn how to care for a baby and practice parenting skills. When I had my first baby, I did not even know how to change a diaper!!! There were NO children around me growing up, my family was, and still is, empty. Soon, they will be gone, dead. I have started a new family with my husband and we have 5 children now.. The older ones help out and they are MUCH more pleasant to be around than other children the same age. Helping is GOOD!! It gives the children a point and a purpose. Otherwise, kids get into all kinds of trouble focusing on themselves all day long.

Posted by: Cathy at February 6, 2010 7:42 PM


Cathy, I',m not talking about "helping out". I'm talking about older children who are the primary caregivers to younger siblings.
My eldest, a boy, was able to cook basic meals and diaper babies when he was 7.
But he was NOT the primary caregiver of my younger children.
I woke them in the morning. I dressed them, bathed them and fed them unless there were circumstances where I couldn't (ex. morning sickness).
My children had a relationship with me that was the primary relationship in their lives. Their relationships with their siblings were second.
In some families with extremely large numbers of children, this is NOT what happens. Note, I said SOME families. I've seen this and I personally know several adult children of acquaintances who have sworn off having children or getting married at all because of this situation at home.

I believe it's good for children to have responsibilities, but children also need time to be children. They need to play and have their own emotional needs met. They shouldn't have to mother younger siblings.
I'm saying, this is what I've seen in SOME very large families.

Posted by: angel at February 6, 2010 8:20 PM


How much money is too much for one family?
How big is too big for a house?
How many employees, or business franchises, are too many to own?
How many years of employment are too many?

YOU or I certainly can't answer those questions, or can we? Marxist morons may be able to.

My Great Grandmothers had 21 and 24 children.

It is not the number... it is what you do with what you are blessed with that counts or matters. 18 kids (or more) is NOTHING compared to the 58 MILLION aborted in USA. 58 x5 for worldwide count = 290 MILLION aborted worldwide. That's 20,000 per DAY---today....;-(

I say keep 'em comin', buy life insurance and be VERY careful ... the government new age elitists hate human exhale, and LOVE MONSANTO, CODEX, NASA, RADIATION, FLUORIDE, MERCURY, etc.

Posted by: Gera at February 6, 2010 8:38 PM


My husband and I have been asked a number of times by well-meaning individuals, when I am going to become pregnant and when we are we going to have children and each time they ask, and when I see friends ultrasound photos and photos of them with their children, my heart aches because I would love to have a child, but I don't know that we can (we can't afford the infertility treatments and domestic adoption is too expensive for us right now).
Posted by: Rachael C. at February 6, 2010 5:08 PM

ach! we need to pray for you and your husband.

Posted by: angel at February 6, 2010 8:43 PM


John McDonell at February 6, 2010 2:17 PM

John, Thank you for your post. I was thinking along these same lines. I am reluctant to criticize the Duggars because they are doing what they feel called to do. But, it almost seems like the quiver philosophy is an overrection to the contraceptive one. To me, Catholic teaching, using NFP, which incorporates the woman's natural cycle and the couple's participation in the decision, seems to be a more balanced approach.

Posted by: Eileen at February 6, 2010 10:10 PM


Eileen, I agree with you and also with John's comment which I completely missed.
I once read an article by a priest which was in response to Catholic couples who felt that other Catholic couples who were using NFP to space children were "sinning".
Without going into too many details, the priest wrote that we have an intellect which God expects us to use.
NFP allows us to plan our families using this intellect. Of course, like our emotions, our intellect must be conformed to the will of God.
So it's not just "well I feel like I should have 3 kids" etc.
At any rate his reasoning seemed very logical to me.

Posted by: angel at February 6, 2010 11:03 PM


Posted by: Hal at February 6, 2010 1:32 PM


"...but they don't provide enough future social-security taxpayers to pay for their own future benefits."

what a sweet way to think of children.

------------------------------------------------------

HAL,

I know the pickins are pretty slim, but you can do better than that.

I am confident you know that no 'pro-lifer' views children, as simply potential sources of revenue for a bloated, wasteful government.

People who hold that view would be progressives/liberals/democRATS and welfare cheats.

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at February 7, 2010 8:11 AM


Rachael C....I will pray for you and your husband! I actually am compiling quite a list of people who want children to pray for. My cousin and his wife are both very educated and have a nice home and have been married 12 years and cannot conceive and doctors don't know why.

My friend just had her second miscarriage. She and her husband are desperate for children.

I am BLESSED to have one child but am so ready for a second and its just not happening yet.

So maybe I'm a little selfish to pray for my own wants too, but I do pray for these other women and I will pray for you too Rachael! I hope the Lord will give you a baby this year!!!!!

Posted by: Sydney M at February 7, 2010 8:28 AM


Rachel - domestic adoption can be virtually free if you are willing to open up your heart to a family-less child. There are thousands of children awaiting homes and available for adoption - see www.adoptuskids.org

While these children may not meet the 'perfect' baby definition - most are >2 years old - they need a home and family. And no one is guaranteed perfection when having their own baby, anyway.

More than 2000 children a year age out of foster care with NO family and minimal social support. We, as a country, can do better. OK, off my soapbox now - I just want to be sure no one thinks that domestic adoption has to be expensive. God bless you.

Posted by: shirley at February 7, 2010 8:39 AM


Thank you Sydney and Angel! Also please pray for healing for my marriage. Without saying too much, perhaps it's better that we didn't have a baby sooner as my husband and I are working to heal and reconcile our marriage and relationship with each other.

Posted by: Rachael C. at February 7, 2010 8:42 AM


ach! Absolutely! You will be in my prayers today at Mass. God bless both you and your husband.

Posted by: angel at February 7, 2010 9:16 AM


"Some one here said that because of contraception and abortion we are depriving the world of so many potential doctors,scientists and other people who could do the world a lot of good. But if people everywhere just had as many children as possible with no regard for the consequencs there would also be a lot more vicious criminals,murderers,violent psychopaths, child abusers,political demagogues,religious fanatics, and more Hitlers,Stalins,Maos, and Pol Pots. That's the other side of the coin."

Posted by: Robert Berger at February 6, 2010 4:01 PM

We have no window into the womb that can accurately predict a baby's future place in society. Regarding your comment, why not advocate forced sterilization which would be more effective in targeting the "undesirables"?

Posted by: Janet at February 7, 2010 10:20 AM


"How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers."

-Blessed (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta

Posted by: Paladin at February 6, 2010 3:38 PM

Paladin,

This is one of my favorite pro-life quotes from Mother Teresa!

Robert, Should we restrict planting flowers because the garden will also bring us weeds?


Posted by: Janet at February 7, 2010 12:25 PM


Hi back, Bobby B.!

The passages you referenced in regards to a brother-in-law not fulfilling his duty to a widowed sister-in-law - it appears that those passages are concerning a BIL who flat-out will not marry his SIL. If Onan was having sex with Tamar, then I have to assume that they were in fact already married, and that he did so only to use her sexually. Perhaps God saw that as a more severe transgression than simply saying "I won't marry her." If he would have just said he wouldn't marry her, then there wouldn't be the situation that there was - he DID marry her, and basically strung her along with the false promise of a child. What happened after the wedding, is obviously not what she would have expected - being sexually exploited, with all promise of children taken from her. This would be far worse for her than Onan simply saying "I won't marry you". Seems to me that the Onan/Tamar situation was a horse of a different color, so to speak, than the situation spoken of in the verses that dealt with the punishment of a BIL who refused to marry a widowed SIL.

Posted by: army_wife at February 7, 2010 12:37 PM


Rachel and Sydney,
Have you seen a physician that specialzes in NaPro Technology, a method of treating infertility that doesn't violate Catholic teaching? Even if you are not Catholic, if you don't want to go the IVF route, this might be something you want to check out. I hardly know anything about it, only that they try to find and resolve the underlying problem for infertility. I'm sure the physicians practicing this method are few and far between, but you can check out these website:
http://www.naprotechnology.com/infertility.htm
http://www.popepaulvi.com/
http://www.tepeyacfamilycenter.com/gynecology/fertility/infertility/

Posted by: Eileen at February 7, 2010 2:27 PM


Why don't we turn the question around? How many abortions are too many? Too tacky to put on the cover of People Magazine! However, I'd love a response from pro-aborts on that one!!! I recently met a woman who was on her 11th abortion at the age of 33! Prior to her, I've met some who claimed to have had 7,8,9, and 10!! To be honest, I never even knew that was possible! Some here have said that the Duggers were irresponsible, didn't know how to use self control, birth control, or even condoms, etc. Uh, the SAME RULES APPLY TO WOMEN USING ABORTION AS BIRTH CONTROL!

Posted by: Heather at February 7, 2010 3:58 PM


Let's not forget pro-aborts, if you are REALLY for choice, you shouldn't have a problem with a woman having a large # of kids! It's still her body and HER CHOICE..remember? I just love how the pro aborts label the pro life crowd "anti choice" yet they yell the loudest over women like Octomom and Kate plus 8! Seems to me that they are actually the people who are ANTI-CHOICE!

Posted by: Heather at February 7, 2010 4:05 PM


I see a lot of people talking about what the Quiverfull movement does or does not believe.

I'm Quiverfull. Ask me.

We do NOT believe that it is a goal to have as many children as possible. We DO believe that it is our place to be open to what God desires for our lives. I know many, many Quiverfull families who have only one or two children, or even no natural children but have adopted instead!

You see, if you're allowing God to plan your life, you also don't go in for fertility treatments, either. And honestly, for Quiverfull families... families who are open to children and who love children... that can be the far harder situation to be in.

Are there legalistic people who use Quiverfull philosophies to justify their legalism? Sure. But if it wasn't QF they'd be using something else. Are there domineering, abusive men who use QF philosophies to justify their attitudes and actions? Sure. But if it wasn't QF, it would be something else.

There is a huge difference between the truth... God opens and closes the womb and determines when and even if children come... and some bizarre contest to be the most "holy" by having mega-families.

I think God knew what he was doing sending 19 children to such sweet, responsible people. I doubt he'd trust me that much! ROFLOL... and what better family for a special needs child to be born into... one where there are many, many people who will love her and contribute to her overall well-being.

I know that one of my MIL's great comforts is that when she and dad are gone, should my SIL (who has DS and is 18) manage to even outlive my husband and I (we will be her guardians at that point), there are 7 nieces and nephews who adore her and will never allow anything bad to happen to her.

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 7, 2010 5:59 PM


As for the adopting thing... we're going through our home study soon, I hope. Domestic adoption of foster kids doesn't have to be expensive... but I don't know if people realize there are almost 2 years of classes to take in some states before you can do so?

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 7, 2010 6:02 PM


"Abortion is against everything that requires faith for success."

Posted by: Phil Schembri is HisMan at February 7, 2010 9:02 PM


"I think that's too many kids," says Dr. Douglas Downey, a general surgeon based in FL. "From a family resource perspective, there is no way you can give the emotional and financial resources you would need to support that may children...."

Notice that the doctor that they got to comment on Michelle's "too many kids" is neither a medical doctor with a specialization in obstetrics and gynecology commenting on her body's ability to handle the stress, nor a psychologist commenting on the mental health of the children or parents, but a medical doctor opining on the emotional and financial aspects of their choices. Completely outside his expertise.

Gina says:
"I may be in the minority here, but I think that when you've had 19 kids and the newest one barely survived and both mom and baby were in danger . . . you've had enough."
And someone else already pointed out that if she had been following at all, rather than just making assumptions, she would have realized that Josie's prematurity was not a result of the number of older siblings her mother had birthed. Way to make assumptions, Gina. Not to mention--it's not like the kids were getting progressively earlier or unhealthier. In the stories covering the birth of Jordyn, the previous Duggar baby, there was no mention of prematurity or any problems (except by stupid people who didn't know anything offering opinions about her uterus falling out). I believe her birth was a perfectly ordinary homebirth (except, of course, that it aired on national television).

"However, I hope that they made the decision for the right reasons and not because of some legalistic requirement of their faith. That way religious burnout lies. I've seen it far too often."

Wow, that's pretty biased too. Nearly all of those who are quiverfull arrived at their position by searching the Scriptures and arriving at the belief that God provides, that He opens and closes the womb, and that nothing in the Bible implies that it is okay to take away from Him the authority to plan our families, because we are to surrender everything, including our bodies, to Him.

Which part of that is legalistic? The searching the Scriptures to determine what God demands of us, or the surrendering of all we have and are to God? I thought those were pretty basic expressions of the Christian faith you claim. You don't have to claim the same convictions that I do (or JimBob and Michelle do), but to say that we are legalistic for following our convictions is inappropriate. If your conscience is not pricked by the ideas, then chalk it up to your freedom in Christ; if your conscience is pricked, then since no one said "Gina needs to do this too," it is between you and God, and certainly not anyone else being legalistic.

To those discussing Onan: it's also worth noting that this came before the law of Moses (which contains the command to marry your brother's widow) was given.

Amy & Elizabeth--thank you for defending the philosophy that God plans our families and is better at it than we are.

To those that defend NFP:
Yes, it's better than abortion and hormonal birth control. I absolutely agree. But I don't think it's better than just letting God plan your family.

I do think it may have a place in extreme circumstances--like when another pregnancy would truly jeopardize a woman's life, or in China where having a second child is likely to lead to forced abortion or extreme persecution. Possibly in cases where a child's life would be in danger from a pregnancy. In times and places where poverty and famine are so severe that another child would mean either that child or someone else in the family would starve. These are not the circumstances most of us live in.

In normal, day-to-day American life, NFP seems to be just contraceptive behavior allowed by the church. I do not believe that figuring out the proper spacing for our children is our job. My nieces are one year apart and inseparable. Some people think eighteen months is "proper" spacing; some people think it's 2 years; some, four years. Obviously this can be taken to some extreme; what if someone wanted their children to be spaced at least 15 years apart? Under normal circumstances, you aren't likely to end up with children closer than 10 months. For most people, fertility does not return while the baby is nursed exclusively, so that would be over a year between children, since nursing for 6 months is recommended. (Not to disparage anyone who does not or cannot nurse; my son is two months old and only just started nursing, so I know it can be a struggle). What makes anyone think that their own knowledge of the spacing children should have exceeds that of God?

NFP seems to me anti-woman. No attempt is made to control the man's fertility or avoid it. This is what Onan did, and I think NFP is as unfair to the woman as "onanism" is to the man. A woman's fertile period is when she is most likely to enjoy and want sex. It is when her body is most ready and receptive. To deny her her rights at only this time is as unfair as to deny climax to a man. Obviously it is not as anti-woman as demanding that she be pumped full of chemicals or devices to thwart her fertility, or as invading her body with surgical instruments--but it does disproportionately affect the wife.

There is no teaching in the Bible that encourages NFP. There are laws about uncleanness during menstruation and after which are more likely to lead to having sex at fertile times. There is the Levitical law mentioned which mentions uncleanness after childbirth. But the Corinthian passage about abstention addresses only an abstention to facilitate prayer, not an idea of abstaining on a regular basis to avoid conception. It does not say that a couple may abstain whenever they want as long as they pray. In fact, the passage speaks against abstention in general, yet since it makes a single allowance, it is used in favor of periodic abstinence. And this same command not to abstain is why many non-Catholic Christians prefer the use of non-abortifacient birth control (when they realize that some birth control is abortifacient, which is sadly rare). Why is it more justifiable to abstain from sex, which the Bible says opens the way to temptation, than to use a condom, on which the Bible is silent?

I have yet to see a good defense of why NFP should be encouraged in a normal, healthy marriage, rather than simply allowing God to plan our families. What I have seen is a lot of claims that NFP is "as effective as the pill"--which kind of tells me it's not about trusting God.

Obviously this argument applies only to Christians. God's first command was to be fruitful and multiply. God calls children blessings and gifts. Those who are quiverfull (or feel similarly but don't put that name on it) live that out. NFP is closer to that than the "contraceptive mindset," but it seems like many who use NFP do so with a contraceptive mindset. Why should we be trusted with something so important as when and whether to bring a soul into the world, when we know so little of the whole picture? Why is family planning our domain, natural or not?

Posted by: ycw at February 8, 2010 1:55 PM


Elizabeth: you are amazing! :) My only gripe is that you crushed me with expectations of going to your blog and drinking in your reflections, only to hit a vacant blog! AAGH! ;)

Re: the concerns about older siblings helping to raise the younger, I'd humbly suggest that this would be an excellent tonic against the selfishness that's so entrenched in our [Western] "gotta be free, gotta be me, gotta 'actualize myself' [whatever the heck that means] society". To think otherwise is (in my opinion) to think, at least in the back of your mind, that "actualizing a career" is more important than loving and nurturing family members. (What does that say to "stay at home moms"?)

Rachel C.: you're in my prayers! My wife and I are in a nearly identical situation.

Janet: mine, too! :)

Posted by: Paladin at February 8, 2010 2:53 PM


Oh, sorry Paladin, I'm in the middle of a major re-do (again). And as I work five 12 hour shifts per week right now (cannot wait until March when one of these contracts I'm working drops off! What was I thinking??) it's taking longer than I planned.

I've got a few posts up at one of my other sites http://the-mommy-project.com ... but I need to get some bugs worked out before I upload much more content. I'll keep ya'll posted when it happens.

As to your point about SAHMs, I SO miss being one. Yes, I love what I do, but I'm getting seriously burned out and I miss spending time with my tribe. We're doing some major rethinking around our house about how to manage things to get me back home as much as possible as soon as possible.

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 8, 2010 3:07 PM


"Re: the concerns about older siblings helping to raise the younger, I'd humbly suggest that this would be an excellent tonic against the selfishness that's so entrenched in our [Western] "gotta be free, gotta be me, gotta 'actualize myself' [whatever the heck that means] society". To think otherwise is (in my opinion) to think, at least in the back of your mind, that "actualizing a career" is more important than loving and nurturing family members. (What does that say to "stay at home moms"?)"

With all due respect, when you're applying this to siblings, it's apples and oranges. Why can't one be a loving and nurturing sibling and train for a career as well? Unless your siblings are supposed to be your primary responsibility rather than your parents', I see nothing mutually exclusive about the two.

Posted by: Gina at February 8, 2010 3:28 PM


She didn't say they were exclusive. The selfish attitudes prevalent today make the claim that they are exclusive and that any time spent nurturing siblings takes away from that all important "me" time or "self-actualization" or "career" and is therefore wrong.

Growing up in the 70s I heard from my mother and all her friends: "You can be ANYTHING you want to be". When everyone realized that what I WANTED to be was a SAHM they reacted with horror... anything I wanted to be but NOT THAT! When I went to nursing school my mom made a point of telling me how happy her friends were that I was no longer "wasting" my brains.

Well, I'll tell you what, I feel like I'm wasting my life a lot more being gone all the time than I ever did when I was home all the time. I'm good at what I do and it's valuable work... but I'm beyond miserable right now at the amount of time spent away from home.

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 8, 2010 3:55 PM


I haven't seen anyone argue that "any time" spent taking care of siblings is wrong. I'm sorry, but that's a straw man. I've seen it over and over again, and it just isn't true. I think it's wonderful for older siblings to help with the younger. I just think those older siblings should also be allowed to train and prepare themselves for their own lives and, if things go that way, for their own careers.

Posted by: Gina at February 8, 2010 4:04 PM


Gina wrote:

I just think those older siblings should also be allowed to train and prepare themselves for their own lives and, if things go that way, for their own careers.

Okay, turn your objection around: who on this board has endorsed "exclusively caring for siblings, to the exclusion of career preparations"? That seems to be a straw man of its own...

Are you suggesting that the Duggars do this?

Posted by: Paladin at February 8, 2010 4:17 PM


Paladin, you brought up the issue of career as if you were placing it in direct opposition to the idea of loving and nurturing family members. Was that not your intention? If not, can I ask why you brought up career in that context? If I misunderstood you, I'm sorry, but that seemed to be the point you were making.

Posted by: Gina at February 8, 2010 4:22 PM


Gina,

I wrote: Re: the concerns about older siblings helping to raise the younger, I'd humbly suggest that this would be an excellent tonic against the selfishness that's so entrenched in our [Western] "gotta be free, gotta be me, gotta 'actualize myself' [whatever the heck that means] society". I'd hoped that this wording would alleviate any concerns about "letting mommy and daddy abdicate, and making the siblings full-time, absolute parents"; helping is hardly the same as taking over completely, or confusing roles of parents with children. I agree with Elizabeth: there are some who think that "significant help from siblings" somehow translates into "confusing parent/child roles" by definition... which is nonsense.

My main point was actually taking gentle exception to Erin's point, above: "I think a family has too many kids when the parents aren't the only ones doing the parenting anymore. Siblings shouldn't have to parent each other, it's an unfair burden. If a family can have 19 kids and not place the responsibility of childcare on the older children, great." This is a significant over-generalization; large families have had older siblings care for younger ones (i.e. cook, clean, help get ready for school, help with schoolwork) since time immemorial without there being any confusion about who the parents were. And I really do have to ask what you think is wrong with such a set-up (now that the "parent abdication" red herring is cleared up)!

Posted by: Paladin at February 8, 2010 4:42 PM


Maybe this would help, now that I think of it...

The original wording of Erin's post (sorry for picking it apart so much, Erin!) was what caught my eye: I think a family has too many kids when the parents aren't the only ones doing the parenting anymore. Siblings shouldn't have to parent each other, it's an unfair burden.

This may be a muddle about definitions... especially because "parenting" and "helping" seem to be worlds apart (and qualitatively different), in my eyes. What, in your mind, constitutes "parenting"? Is cooking meals for the family (for example) "parenting"? I'd say "not necessarily"; parenting often involves cooking meals for the family, yes; but it doesn't logically follow that cooking meals for the family implies "parenting"--unless one is playing fast and loose with the word "parenting" in the first place...

Posted by: Paladin at February 8, 2010 4:52 PM


Once again, there is NOTHING wrong with it. I've said repeatedly that it's just fine.

As long as we're all clear that there's a distinction between siblings helping to raise a child and siblings doing the bulk of the raising, and that the former is preferable, then that's great. But if anyone thinks that there aren't situations where older siblings are made to parent the younger at the expense of their own lives and goals, I'm afraid that just isn't true. Check out Hillary McFarland's story, for one.

http://hillarymcfarland.com/

Posted by: Gina at February 8, 2010 4:53 PM


Gina,

My best friend is the oldest of 7. Everytime her mom would have another baby with a stranger (she never married any of the 6 different fathers), she would be the one home from school taking care of the new baby. She had nothing growing up besides powdered milk and government cheese (literally). No one in her family had ever finished high school.

She figured out in all this that the only hope of another life for her was to abstain from sex (not have babies alone) and stay in school. She has a masters' degree now, has raised her youngest sibling all 10 years of her marriage and is expecting my 2nd godson in June.

What I am saying is that for every story of an older sibling forced to parent at the expense of their own lives and goals, their is an older sibling that learned responsibility and the wherewithall to go out and achieve those goals in having to parent their younger siblings. The oldest of a large household in my experiences tend to be the most responsible siblings who make the most successful adults.

Posted by: Jacqueline at February 8, 2010 5:17 PM


I've seen older siblings filled up sippy cups with juice when they notice the toddler is out, help them zip up their jackets before everyone gets in the van, take a wipey to their faces and hands if they see that they are covered in peanut butter. This is what they do just like you would for someone around you that you love that can't do for themselves. It's not parenting or responsibility as much as default human nature.

What should they do? Yell, "MOOOMM! The baby needs juice!" "M-OOOOM, the baby is needs help with the jacket!" Siblings just do it. And yes, rather than load everyone up, Mom will yell that the oldest is in charge while she makes a 30 minute trip to the store that would take 3 hours after everyone's shoes are on, they are buckled, unbuckled, et cetera. And in large families, mom isn't your slave. You put your clothes in the hamper and when the washer dings, someone moves the clothes over. My mom called it "Keep laundry going." When the dryer dings, you lay out the clothes for each person to take and hang/fold themselves.

I see so much entitlement in small families of mom makes the sandwich and folds the clothes and cooks the meals rather than a unit that works together.

Posted by: Jacqueline at February 8, 2010 5:25 PM


By the way, I have one sibling and we had a maid growing up. But I have close relationships with several large families (one with 9 boys) and another with 5 biological and 5 adopted children. I used to help around the houses of both families and am still close to them. The oldest boy in the first family has an engineering degree and he and his wife just built their first home. The second, I believe the oldest kids are all in college.

I also know one of 6 and all those kids have done well also. If they wanted something like a car or education, they had to find the means through working, scholarships, et cetera but could always live and eat at home. And they did. They walked to work or school or someone drove them. They are the most responsible kids.

I had one sibling who took 10 years to earn a bachelors degree on my parent's dime, changing schools and majors and such. We could wreck/destroy a car and expect my folks to buy us a new one. (Yes, both have happened). We had chores growing up, but we had maids, too. Just telling it like it was for us.

Having grown up with all sorts of luxuries, I can say that I would trade it all for more siblings to share the care of my parents with, to count on, to have people who know you from birth. To have nieces or nephews (I don't have any- my sister is single and never wants kids) and when I have kids, to have cousins for them and more than one aunt. I wish I shared a room with others- I was afraid of the dark and my sister was afraid of her asthma so I slept on a palate on her floor every night anyway.

I just fail to see how any temporary childhood drawback of being in a large family isn't abated by having the large family the rest of your life and for eternity. So you have to share toys, you have to pull your weight- you have to change diapers and babysit- is it not worth it?

Posted by: Jacqueline at February 8, 2010 5:40 PM


Paladin, thanks for clarifying. That's very helpful. I would say a sibling is being asked to "parent" when they're being asked to carry a burden that's too heavy for them at their age, and/or encouraged or coerced to give up their own dreams and goals to keep raising their siblings.

I'm sorry, but I don't know where people are getting this idea that I don't think siblings should fill up sippy cups and zip jackets and put in loads of laundry. I never said such a thing and I never would!

Posted by: Gina at February 8, 2010 5:44 PM


I guess that's where I'm not understanding, Gina. How much help can a kid give his siblings before it's too much and counts as parenting?

I think the older kid having a younger buddy to help dress and feed and such is wonderful. I can't imagine the bond between those two.

Posted by: Jacqueline at February 8, 2010 5:47 PM


Look at the response I just gave Paladin and you'll see where I'm drawing the line between the two.

Posted by: Gina at February 8, 2010 5:49 PM


Incidentally, one of my favorite books growing up was "Cheaper by the Dozen" (not to be confused with the lame movie version), and I'm still very fond of it. Anyone who thinks I'm anti-siblings caring for each other should go take a look at it. :-) I doubt there's ever been another such comprehensive and efficient siblings-caring-for-each-other system on the face of the earth!

But mom and dad were still in charge and no one was carrying more than they could bear. That's the important thing.

Posted by: Gina at February 8, 2010 5:53 PM


No, Gina, it's NOT clear where you're drawing the line. That's pretty subjective. You have to remember that kids in large families are, in many cases, simply more capable because they have more chances to learn how to be capable.

My mom just had the two of us and my older brother JUST NOW finally grew up at 40... and I'm still holding my breath to see if it "takes". I remember several times over the years saying, "I have a 12 year old more mature than you are!"

My 17 year old gets the giggles when she hears people complain about planning dinner parties and having to cook for a "crowd" of 8 or 10...

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 8, 2010 6:23 PM


"What I am saying is that for every story of an older sibling forced to parent at the expense of their own lives and goals, their is an older sibling that learned responsibility and the wherewithall to go out and achieve those goals in having to parent their younger siblings."

Jaqueline,

I have to ask, are you saying that it's desirable for an older sibling to have to do the parenting of his/her younger siblings?

Wouldn't you agree that your friend had something of her childhood taken from her because of the burden placed on her by an absentee mother?

While I agree that having to parent one's siblings can result in a more mature, responsible, and capable individual, I also have to point out that it can just as easily result in a highly selfish and irresponsible adult (resultant of the desire to recapture one's childhood).

I don't think Gina's stance is wrong-if you can't parent your children, you should take that into serious consideration when facing the question of opening yourself up to more children.

And just for the record, I myself am the oldest of 10 and did plenty of helping out during my childhood. Big families are fantastic! But women like the Octomom who create life without regard for the responsibility they're taking on really aggravate me.

I can't help but question the Duggars, to be honest. They are exposing all of these children to the scrutiny of the public in a very intimate way and I just feel like it's a violation of their childhood. And can someone tell me, is there a backup plan for supporting their family if the show gets canceled? I am heartened to see a nice Christian example for the world, but I just question whether they're actually parenting in a responsible fashion...

Posted by: MaryRose at February 8, 2010 6:48 PM


Maryrose, the Duggar family was taking care of their children really well and they were debt free before they ever appeared on television. They do not need the money from the TV show in order to support the children.

Posted by: Bethany at February 8, 2010 9:32 PM


I have to ask, are you saying that it's desirable for an older sibling to have to do the parenting of his/her younger siblings?

No, I'm not. I am saying that any potential downsides of large families in childhood are overwhelmingly compensated for in adulthood and in eternity. So the first 18 years of someone's life, they had little siblings to babysit. I think the next 50+ years of having lots of siblings, nieces and nephews, cousins for your kids and so forth more than compensates, not to mention lots of memories and bonds built with people that you can likely count on for the rest of your life. My mother's father had 21 siblings. 21. She has 21 doting aunts growing up and could bounce between their houses all summer long, not to mention dozens of cousins to play with. We all get together (the girl cousins) and rent cabins for a weekend twice a year and have a slumber party. It's a blast!

And nowhere did I or would I suggest that children should parent children. I was just refuting that having many siblings and caring for them results in lost opportunities in every case. I think, on the whole, most large families are married couples that love eachother enough to stay together long enough to have a large family and unlike so many kids today, these kids have both parents in the home rather than Daddy every other weekend with his "new" family.

Wouldn't you agree that your friend had something of her childhood taken from her because of the burden placed on her by an absentee mother?

Absolutely! My friend was a victim of the basic things kids deserve- She doesn't even know who her father is. She spent her childhood terrified that something would happen to her grandmother and she'd have no one. Her parent's choices to make babies with strangers and not care for those babies were wrong and she deserved to be raised by a loving, capable mother and father. She was wronged. Greatly, irrevocably wronged. But what was done to her has nothing to do with her and everything to do with her parents and their bad choices- and she has done such amazing things in spite of the injustices she suffered. My point was not to justify the unjustifyable wrongs of making your children raise their siblings, but to say that even in the worst case scenario, every horror story has an equal and opposite story with a happy ending. So giving a weblink of someone that was wronged in their large family doesn't negate weblinks of people that are happy in theirs, or people that were wronged but still managed to live an outstanding adulthood.

Besides, most large families has STAY AT HOME mothers, not welfare mothers. Homeschooling mothers, even! My friend was merely an example of how the worst injustices don't always have bad outcomes.

And can someone tell me, is there a backup plan for supporting their family if the show gets canceled?

You assume that the show is their livelihood, forgetting that they lived debt-free prior to publicity and own several businesses where they work. This is not Jon and Kate with 6 infants, toddlers and so forth AT ONCE. They had a natural family gradually and one has left the nest. They support everyone just fine. In fact, they SCHOOL them and each kid plays an instrument, and they travel on mission trips. These kids are parented more and better than only children often are.

Posted by: Jacqueline at February 8, 2010 9:33 PM


I forgot to mention that they make their living selling commercial real estate- it is not the TV show that is their primary source of income.

Posted by: Bethany at February 8, 2010 9:37 PM


You assume that the show is their livelihood, forgetting that they lived debt-free prior to publicity and own several businesses where they work. This is not Jon and Kate with 6 infants, toddlers and so forth AT ONCE. They had a natural family gradually and one has left the nest. They support everyone just fine. In fact, they SCHOOL them and each kid plays an instrument, and they travel on mission trips. These kids are parented more and better than only children often are.

Amen, Jacque. I truly think they really are.

I think of the Duggars as role models for my own life. I would love to be just half the parent that Jim Bob or Michelle are to their children. They are such an inspiration to me.

Posted by: Bethany at February 8, 2010 9:58 PM


Jaqueline,

No, I wasn't assuming but asking. I don't know the Duggars' history or the particulars of their lives. My objection to their parenting lies in their decision to put their children on national television. But the question I asked about their contingency plan was a genuine question, and it's good to know that they were supporting their family prior to the show's conception.

I think my questions were taken more as assumptions than as questions, but I meant to ask and not to assume.

Posted by: MaryRose at February 8, 2010 10:36 PM


MaryRose, the Duggars came to the attention of the media when Michelle was named Arkansas Mother of the Year. I don't remember the year, but they had 14 children at the time.

When they realized that the media was interested in their way of life, they discussed it and decided it was a good way to witness to others about frugality, clean living, and family values (as well as their faith in God).

If you actually watch the show, you can see how much the children enjoy the crew and how they have become an adopted "part" of the family. I loved seeing the gorgeous photos that the kids and crew "snuck around" to get done of all of the children to make a beautiful scrapbook for Michelle and JimBob for Christmas this past year!

These kids are neither exploited or traumatized... they're having a great time!

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 8, 2010 10:54 PM


No, I'm not. I am saying that any potential downsides of large families in childhood are overwhelmingly compensated for in adulthood and in eternity. So the first 18 years of someone's life, they had little siblings to babysit. I think the next 50+ years of having lots of siblings, nieces and nephews, cousins for your kids and so forth more than compensates, not to mention lots of memories and bonds built with people that you can likely count on for the rest of your life.

Heh. I think the person who actually has to shoulder the responsibility and do the work in lieu of having a childhood should be left to be the judge of that. But that person never gets a say, because it's already done.

Posted by: xalisae at February 8, 2010 11:05 PM


Heh. I think the person who actually has to shoulder the responsibility and do the work in lieu of having a childhood should be left to be the judge of that. But that person never gets a say, because it's already done.

You do realize that it's the exception, not the rule. And find someone to ask if they'd trade their siblings for an easier childhood. I doubt they'd say yes.

Posted by: Jacqueline at February 8, 2010 11:34 PM


I think my questions were taken more as assumptions than as questions, but I meant to ask and not to assume.

I didn't find it presumptious or accusing at all, MaryRose. I should watch my "tone" it seems if I'm coming off as combative. :)

Posted by: Jacqueline at February 8, 2010 11:41 PM


Heh. I think the person who actually has to shoulder the responsibility and do the work in lieu of having a childhood should be left to be the judge of that. But that person never gets a say, because it's already done.

One more thing, it's true that I didn't have any responsibility to shoulder and had a childhood- but I never got a say about that. Children don't. It's the adults in their lives. Adults makes choices for kids.

And that's precisely what we're talking about, here- whether or not large families are good for kids or bad for them. It seems like the consensus is that they are good if and only if the children aren't overwhelmed. All of this is optional too- because having large families doesn't demand children lose their childhood- it's an ongoing adult choice. So the issue isn't the family size, but the parent's ability to handle the children.

So once again, these situations where kids are overwhelmed in large families with too many responsibilities has nothing to do with large families. Parents of two children can neglect one with the other, too.

So since parents are deciding for an against large families as not to burden the kids, let's remind them that is something they can control but simply not burdening the kids. You can get all the blessings of a large family without these problems. Most do.

Posted by: Jacqueline at February 8, 2010 11:53 PM


You do realize that it's the exception, not the rule. And find someone to ask if they'd trade their siblings for an easier childhood. I doubt they'd say yes.
Posted by: Jacqueline at February 8, 2010 11:34 PM

It's not about that though. You can't say "Well, if you resent your parents for making you parent your youngest siblings, you don't really love your siblings." That's ridiculous. The fact that I had too much responsibility placed upon my head from too young an age has no impact whatsoever on whether or not I'd want my siblings to die or not exist.

Posted by: xalisae at February 9, 2010 12:37 AM


X, you've got serious, deep-seated issues in this particular area. Your situation is not typical and should not be used to argue against the mere existence of large families... not that you're necessarily doing it here, but I've seen you do it in the past and just kind of wanted to head that off...

As Jacqueline pointed out, children from small families can be neglected, too.

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 9, 2010 12:48 AM


And that's precisely what we're talking about, here- whether or not large families are good for kids or bad for them. It seems like the consensus is that they are good if and only if the children aren't overwhelmed. All of this is optional too- because having large families doesn't demand children lose their childhood- it's an ongoing adult choice. So the issue isn't the family size, but the parent's ability to handle the children.

So once again, these situations where kids are overwhelmed in large families with too many responsibilities has nothing to do with large families. Parents of two children can neglect one with the other, too.

So since parents are deciding for an against large families as not to burden the kids, let's remind them that is something they can control but simply not burdening the kids. You can get all the blessings of a large family without these problems. Most do.
Posted by: Jacqueline at February 8, 2010 11:53 PM

And this part I agree with, but I think the other part of what you said was incredibly unfair. A large family, if done right, can be wonderful, and even ones which are done poorly can have exquisite high points. But the point here is just what I've been saying, the "serious, deep-seated issues" statement I think only helps to prove my point, as my mom's family (she's the second-oldest of 9) would all tell you how great their family was/is, but they all have worse "issues" than anything my immediate family could even dream of...we've all got "issues", and I think 9 times out of 10, a large family is only going to compound those issues to a disconcerting degree (sometimes even cause additional issues). A large family is playing with dynamite. Sometimes you drop the dynamite in a hole, and it blows up without hurting anyone, and the hole turns into a mine that's full of diamonds. But so many times, that dynamite is just going to blow everything to bits.

Posted by: xalisae at February 9, 2010 1:56 AM


A large family is playing with dynamite. Sometimes you drop the dynamite in a hole, and it blows up without hurting anyone, and the hole turns into a mine that's full of diamonds. But so many times, that dynamite is just going to blow everything to bits.

That's a completely unfair statement that shows, once again, that you are either unable or unwilling to look at the issue in an objective manner.

Basically, you're saying that large families are, in and of themselves, destructive forces that occasionally turn out okay despite that.

The fact is, a dysfunctional family is a dysfunctional family whether there are 2 children or 20.

Yes, having a larger number of family members certainly can magnify those issues if the underlying family structure is dysfunctional but it is not the "large family" aspect that is to blame, it is the "dysfunctional" aspect that is to blame. And a case could easily be made that in a larger family parental issues are less focused on any one individual child and potentially minimized in their impact in that way.

I would have loved to have had more siblings to take my mother's attention away from me! She expected me to fulfill every single dream and idea of what a daughter should be... more than any one child can fulfill. Had there been more of us, chances are at least one would have wanted to do the different types of activities she forced me to participate in all at once! (I was the original overscheduled child long before it was in vogue.)

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 9, 2010 4:17 AM


Hi, Gina,

I tried the link to Hillary McFarland's site, and... I got rather lost, rather quickly. Lots of abstract snippets of poetry, but I couldn't find her story (to say nothing of anything relating to siblings), for the life of me! Can you direct me to the specific content? I felt like a minotaur in a labyrinth... :)

Posted by: Paladin at February 9, 2010 7:39 AM


Whoops... sorry for the repeat comment, moderators! My computer froze in the midst of the first, and gave a "your message was not posted!" error. Nasty, nasty computer, to tell fibs! :)

Posted by: Paladin at February 9, 2010 7:46 AM


Paladin, sorry about that. I forgot that site is pretty hard to navigate. Here's a good place to start (from Hillary's blog).

http://quiveringdaughters.blogspot.com/2009/09/quiverfull-daughters-little-mothers.html

Posted by: Gina at February 9, 2010 7:53 AM


First of all, they aren't Christian, they're Mormon.

Seconly, if my kids were as well mannered as theirs....

Posted by: Amy Proctor at February 9, 2010 9:05 AM


I looked this up after the last post. My people really have thoughts on this issue. Look at the number of posts.... :)


•They are Independent Baptists. They watch TV but not a lot, and they do have a computer. I know this because they have said so themselves. I do not know for sure if they are Quiverfull, the reason, (according to them) that they want as many children as God allows is because they were using birth control in the beginning and miscarried their first child. They also follow the teachings of Bill Gothard, which is where they get the beliefs of women wearing dresses and having long hair and no dancing. Josh and Anna were married in a Baptist church.

•The Duggars also are associated with a Conservative Christian movement called Quiverfull. Quiverfull families try to have as many children as possible and do not use any birth control.They just have as many children as "God intends them to have."

Posted by: Susie(prolifeintn.blogspot.com) at February 9, 2010 9:19 AM


Sorry to jump in late..but just reading the exchange between Elisabeth and X made me think of a family in my childhood church. NICE parents but they kept having baby after baby. I think they had 10 kids. The mother looked like she was about to keel over at any minute. She was like a corpse...not even there! They were dirt poor. I was a teen serving in the church nursery for the services and one of the little girls came up to me and said sadly "My feet hurt" I realized her little feet were crammed into shoes two sizes too small. I wanted to cry! I was angry that the father kept impregnating his wife when he couldn't provide even basic essentials for his children!

The father was a happy go lucky guy but completely out of touch. He seemed not to notice his wife struggling with their large brood of kids.

THAT is the wrong way to have a large family.

I also knew only children who were spoiled, spoiled, spoiled...the kids twisted their parents around their little fingers and grew up without any boundaries. They grew up to be criminals, deadbeats, losers.

So there is no "wrong" family size...but there is definitely a wrong way to parent..no matter how many kids you have. The kids themselves aren't the problem, the parents are.

Posted by: Sydney M at February 9, 2010 9:26 AM


THANK YOU, Sydney....I completely agree. The parents, not the children, are the problem if it's not working. Children are never the problem.

Posted by: Bethany at February 9, 2010 9:41 AM


Elizabeth, 4;17- good post!

Posted by: Bethany at February 9, 2010 9:47 AM


The Duggars WANT the children that they HAVE. They HAVE the children that they WANT. It is pretty hard to understand for those with an "abort it" mentality.

Agreed, Sydney.

Posted by: carla Author Profile Page at February 9, 2010 11:41 AM


Bethany, I agree.

Posted by: Gina at February 9, 2010 1:17 PM


"Quiverfull families try to have as many children as possible and do not use any birth control"

Is that a typo? Because my understanding of quiverfull, which could be wrong, is that they don't TRY to have as many babies as possible, they just oppose any efforts to limit family size. They also refuse artificial ways to open the womb, too, believing that God has dominion over the number of children and will open and close it at His will. So they don't force the womb open any more than they'd force it closed.

While I know several quiverfull families and have great respect for them, I think we exercise stewardship over children and are expected to plan our families according to our abilities, trusting God and never, ever, being closed to life. I oppose birth control, but I also oppose a legalistic standard to have as many kids as possible and family size being a litmus test for righteousness. I'm not saying quiverfull is like this, but I differ in that I am fine with using knowledge of female physiology to achieve and avoid conception.

Posted by: Jacqueline at February 9, 2010 1:32 PM


Selfish and shallow people.

Posted by: Jenna at February 9, 2010 2:25 PM


Jenna...Ellie...Mark: please choose one moniker and stick to it. It is easy to tell that you are one person posting under different names. Thank you.

Posted by: Kelli Author Profile Page at February 9, 2010 3:32 PM


AGH... I am Quiverfull. We do NOT try to have "as many babies as possible". If we did, we'd be going the Octomom route trying to have as many as we can each time, using advanced fertility medicine to give us litters! That is totally against the Quiverfull mindset which is one of openness, not turning away blessings, but not going to extreme measures to attempt to have them.

Openness.... not greediness.

We are open to those blessings God sends our way. We are not in some sort of weird competition to have as many as possible! Once again, as I posted above, I know many QF families who only have a few children or even no natural children, only adopted ones.

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 9, 2010 4:22 PM


Are they taking any government aid? Doesn’t look like it.

Are they on welfare? Doesn’t look like it.

Are they taking food stamps? Doesn’t look like it.

Are they on WIC? Doesn’t look like it.

Bottom line: 19 white Christian kids that the government can’t control is really, really bad.

Posted by: Eric at February 9, 2010 4:44 PM


Selfish and shallow people.

Name-calling is petty bit ambiguity is just annoying.

Posted by: Jacqueline at February 9, 2010 5:17 PM


It is interesting that the surgeon says that there is not enough "emotional resources" to take care of that many children. What is the average teacher to student ratio in a typical school? 20 to 1, 25 to 1? And that is where most kids spend most of their time. Is he admitting that schools are ill-equipped to handle that many children? He may be right on that count, but certainly not for this family. They are doing a great job and show such admirable faith and trust in the Lord.

Posted by: johnny at February 9, 2010 5:50 PM


Johnny,

While schools ARE ill-equipped to handle that many children, there's a drastic difference between parenting 18,19 children and teaching the same number or more children. I don't think you can really accurately compare the two in regards to "emotional resources"...

Posted by: MaryRose at February 9, 2010 6:06 PM


Not that I agree with the surgeon regardless. Just pointing out that there's a totally different sort of strain you put on yourself having kids vs. teaching kids.... Speaking as a former preschool teacher and current stay at home mother.

Posted by: MaryRose at February 9, 2010 6:09 PM


I take offense at the "emotional resources" comment. Love is not a finite thing that there is only so much of, as in, "I only have love and affection enough for 3 children, not four."

Posted by: Jacqueline at February 10, 2010 10:00 AM


Absolutely, Jacqueline! I don't love my older children less simply because I have the babies...

And there is something else to consider in terms of "emotional resources"... When we had Alison (#1), Alison had the devoted love and attention of myself, her dad, and her grandparents. When we had Patrick (#7)... he has the devoted love and attention of myself, his dad, his grandparents, his nearly adult sister (she's 17), his adolescent brothers (11 and 13, very VERY good with him) and his littler big sisters (8, 5, and 4)... he is doted on by all.

In reverse, when Alison gets home from a rough day at high school, she is greeted by squeals and hugs from a gaggle of baby sisters who adore her and she scoops up her baby brother for cuddle times and he covers her face with drooly open-mouthed kisses (he hasn't learned to kiss "properly" yet, he's 5 months old).

Each of the children has vast emotional resources at their disposal, even if I'm sick or dad had a bad day at work, or whatever. Plus, sometimes its easier for one of the littler ones to confide in an older sibling who then will come and talk to Dad or I on their behalf rather than "fessing up" to whatever it is directly...

All of that is just part and parcel of living in love with 9 people in one house... not because the older children "parent" the younger ones... but because they love them.

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 10, 2010 10:24 AM


Hi, Gina,

Thanks for the string trail out of the labyrinth! :)

I definitely sympathized with the anguish Hillary experienced... but I have to echo some of the comments, above: it doesn't take a large number of children/siblings to experience that sort of thing. I know of two people who experienced similar anguish (literally--the stories are horrifying, and they'd curl your hair! I honestly don't know how they're still alive...), but one of them is an only child (whose mother is mentally ill), and the other had 3 other siblings (mother and 2 siblings were mentally unstable). There's nothing "intrinsic" about large families having a "let's force the other kids to take on responsibilities too large for them" factor; it differs from family to family, regardless of size. (I gather that you agree.)

BTW, Elizabeth: do you homeschool?

Posted by: Paladin at February 10, 2010 4:08 PM


Ack! Elizabeth, I finally caught up on reading the above comments, and I caught the reference to high school, etc.! Sorry...

Anyway: if you ever need any high school math tutoring help (over e-mail), click on my link (I teach high school math--Algebra 1 through AP Calculus); my e-mail can be found on my profile page. For homeschoolers and Quiverfulls, I charge $0.00/e-mail... though on weekdays, I have to charge 30% more... ;)

(I don't even charge extra for the cool program that allows me to send the math symbols and doohickeys via MS Word...)

Posted by: Paladin at February 10, 2010 4:17 PM


(*sigh*) Okay... not only did I goof by missing your homeschooling reference on your blog (until about 5 minutes ago), but I just noticed that I've been misspelling your name for several posts, now, Elisabeth! :) Sorry!!

Time to take a nap, methinks...t

Posted by: Paladin at February 10, 2010 4:31 PM


ROFLOL... Yes, I do homeschool. My oldest goes to high school, as we think my oldest son when his time comes. I give each of the children that choice. K-8 they are home with me, no questions asked. We do use www.connectionsacademy.com as our curriculum.

I might take you up on the math tutoring... Joseph is in the seventh grade taking high school honors geometry. Sometimes he struggles, although he pulled out a B for first semester.

And I'm used to the name being misspelled, I don't even think twice about it!

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 11, 2010 11:12 AM


Eli(s)abeth wrote: :)

I might take you up on the math tutoring... Joseph is in the seventh grade taking high school honors geometry. Sometimes he struggles, although he pulled out a B for first semester.

Wow! That's impressive! And please do feel free to pepper me with whatever questions you wish; I can't guarantee an instantaneous turn-around time, but I'll try not to be too sluggish (i.e. within 24 hours). (Math is one of the ways I amuse myself, actually, so questions would be an amusement rather than a chore! I often say that I was hired to do school paperwork, administrative form-filling, and miscellaneous supervisories, but they graciously allow me to teach math in-between those duties, for enjoyment!)

And I'm used to the name being misspelled, I don't even think twice about it!

:) Thanks... but I'll try to be good, from now on.

Posted by: Paladin at February 13, 2010 11:37 AM


Oh Paladin, a fellow math-pro-life-Catholic!!

What kind of math do you dabble in? God love you.

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at February 13, 2010 11:38 AM


Bobby Bambino wrote:

Oh Paladin, a fellow math-pro-life-Catholic!!

"The few... the deranged... the math majors!" (With apologies to the Marines...)

What kind of math do you dabble in?

Strange as it sounds, I really enjoy proofs of many different kinds. I haven't gone on to Ph.D. level topics, or anything... but Geometry, number theory, abstract algebra, and Calculus proofs always struck me as fun (though often exasperating, while I'm slogging through them--many are "fun" only in retrospect!)...

In short: "the more abstract, the better!" I'll apply math if necessary, but few things spoil math for me faster than applying it (or pseudo-applying it, as in the--yuk--"sub-section" of math known as "statistics" *blech*).

God love you.

:) Et cum spiritu tuo!

Posted by: Paladin at February 13, 2010 12:26 PM


Wow, good for you. That is very similar to my feelings about math.

If you want a really cool book in number theory, my friend recently published a book called "Not Always Buried Deep."

Now if you want to go to the next level of abstraction, I'd recommend dabbling in some point-set topology. Then you can learn algebraic topology which is even more bizarre!

But that's really great. Not many people who don't have to do math will actually do it.

"Et cum spiritu tuo!"

And also with me? Thanks! (Haha, just kidding... I work for the ICEL, get it? Thank GOD the new translation will be implemented in only a couple years)

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at February 13, 2010 12:51 PM


Well, you two, I think I'm seeing my son's future.... (he wants to be a professor of mathematics, well, in between gigs as a professional wrestler! ROFLOL)

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 13, 2010 2:51 PM


" Well, you two, I think I'm seeing my son's future.... (he wants to be a professor of mathematics, well, in between gigs as a professional wrestler! ROFLOL) "

Wait, what? So I'm not joking here, Elisabeth- I am 4 months away from completing my doctorate in math, and will be a math professor. BUT I was also a professional wrestler for 8 years, and my brother is still a professional wrestler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Jacobs ). He makes a living doing it.

It's a very seedy lifestyle. I don't know if he is serious or if there are any wrestling schools around you, but I can tell you a lot about the world of pro wrestling if you wish.

Wow, this is odd indeed!

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at February 13, 2010 3:06 PM


That is hilarious... Joseph is 13, has long blonde curls (we call him mop-head) and looks up to Shawn Michaels. He's studying wrestling under Master MuChang, who won gold and silver Olympic medals in wrestling back in the 60s.

We're actually going to Wrestlemania next month. The hubs is a total addict. Sigh... he's so excited that I'm going with him, too.... I think this should earn me bonus "good wife" points.

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 14, 2010 3:49 AM


Oh, and Bobby... I want to see a pic of YOU in wrestling gear...

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 14, 2010 3:52 AM


Haha. Well, here is my website from about 2001 http://www.angelfire.com/mi/blitzkriegkid/ It hasn't been updated since then.

Michaels was my idol when I was growing up too. I haven't heard of Master MuChang, but I agree that this is serious wife points that you will be earning.

So are you really planning for Joseph to break into the business sometime?

Posted by: Bobby Bambino Author Profile Page at February 14, 2010 6:59 AM


My plan is to support Joseph in whatever he chooses to do in the future, while ensuring he gets a good education at the same time. (I have been duly educated by hubs as to just how many wrestlers have advanced degrees, including PhDs, and have written books.)

Love the pics my friend... Here's one of the mophead with his baby brother that my oldest took with her cell phone at Christmastime:
And one of his professional Christmas pics:

The curls are longer now and those pics don't showcase the fact that this young man is 100% muscle...

We've even talked about moving to Texas so that he can study at the new school opened by Mr. Hickenbottom and Mr. Callaway. (As to that second one, our four year old daughter, at age 3, was fond of saying, "Mommy, the Undertaker is SILLY!"... She wanted an undertaker nightlight. They don't make those. And I had to deal with a preschool crush from our now five year old who had a thing for her "Edge-y"... sigh)

Mu Chang is a 9th Degree Black Belt in Kuk Sul (sp?) wrestling. He is easily dismissed due to his size... until you see him wrestle. The man is amazing. He's also a strong Christian and it is nice to feel that my kids (all six of the older children take lessons. I thought I'd wait until Patrick could walk before sending him! LOL) are safe there.

Posted by: Elisabeth at February 14, 2010 4:53 PM


:) Elisabeth, I'm glad those comments were for Bobby; You definitely do *not* want to see me in wrestling togs...

(If I get soaking wet, I might weigh more than the clothes themselves...)

Oh, and Bobby: "CONSUBSTANTIAL with the Father!!" Take that, ye brazen ICEL pirate! Arrgh! ;)

Posted by: Paladin at February 14, 2010 9:09 PM