So many of my acquaintances, and even people with whom I am not acquainted, have made comments to me about the size of my family. The fact is that I have four children under five right now. My oldest will be five in May, then the next will be four in October, the next will be two in September and the youngest will be one in December.
Recently, I was part of a conversation about how to decide how many children you should have and how far apart to have them. That conversation can be, to say the least, a very touchy one. Since this is my blog, I will share my opinion on the subject. Keep in mind, it is my opinion. That doesn't mean that I am judging you if you have a different opinion. It's how I feel for my family.
The decision about both the timing and the number of children is between me, my spouse, and the Lord. Often the Lord has a different plan than I have. That's most obviously inherent in the trek for a spouse or how to finish schooling, and it certainly applies to the bearing of children.
I have had so many people mention to me that we must be done because we have three boys and finally a girl. "You got your girl, so you must be done!" Just because I had three boys first and then a girl does not mean I am finished having kids. Is the single goal of having children to have at least one of each gender before the family is complete? Does that mean that if we had a boy first and then a girl we should be done because we have one of each? Lest anybody be confused on the subject, our family is not complete just because we finally got a girl.
Another common comment I hear is, "Wow, you must be doing pretty well [meaning financially], you have four kids!" I don't understand why people feel they must wait before all their finances are in order before having one, two, three, six or ten children? President Kimball said, and I quote,
And, John and Mary, tomorrow when I repeat the phrases that will bind you for eternity, I shall say the same impressive words that the Lord said to that handsome youth and his lovely bride in the Garden of Eden: "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth." The Lord does not waste words. He meant what he said. You did not come on earth just to "eat, drink, and be merry." You came knowing full well your responsibilities. You came to get for yourself a mortal body that could become perfected, immortalized, and you understood that you were to act in partnership with God in providing bodies for other spirits equally anxious to come to the earth for righteous purposes. And so you will not postpone parenthood. There will be rationalists who will name to you numerous reasons for postponement. Of course, it will be harder to get your college degrees or your financial start with a family, but strength like yours will be undaunted in the face of difficult obstacles. Have your family as the Lord intended. Of course, it is expensive, but you will find a way, and besides, it is often those children who grow up with responsibility and hardships who carry on the world's work. And, John and Mary, do not limit your family as the world does. I am wondering now where I might have been had my parents decided arbitrarily that one or two children would be enough, or that three or four would be all they could support, or that even five would be the limit; for I was the sixth of eleven children. Don't think you will love the later ones less or have fewer material things for them. Perhaps, like Jacob, you might love the eleventh one most. Young people, have your family, love them, sacrifice for them, teach them righteousness, and you will be blessed and happy all the days of your eternal lives. (Faith Precedes the Miracle)
It is my opinion, therefore, that it is not necessary to limit my family because of financial concerns. According to what President Kimball said, the Lord has promised that if we are righteous and faithful and start our families and not limit them as the world does, the Lord will take care of us. Of course, this is contingent upon our faithfulness and righteousness. If we squander our money frivolously, I don't think we will have the Lord's blessing in that area. But to say, as so many people do to us, that we are crazy for having so many children on such a tight budget is wrong, IMNSHO. I get so tired of hearing people say that they are only having two children or one or three because they can't "afford" to have any more. What a bunch of bologna. Learn to live within your means and live more frugally and you will find it is much easier than you thought.
The only reasons I feel are necessary reasons to "limit" my family size is my health. That includes mental as well as physical. I know many women who cannot have more children because their bodies could not physically handle the stress of pregnancy and childbirth and would most likely die (and the baby too) if they tried to have another child. I also know women who have several children and they are maxed out emotionally and mentally and barely making it because they are so overwhelmed. For such women, I say, give it time or maybe that is all they can handle. But make it a matter of prayer before rendering yourself permanently sterile with a procedure like tubal ligation. I think that is a HUGE mistake to do, having a permanent method of birth control unless you would die in the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Use another method because you never know when someday in the future you might get the inspiration that the Lord has one more spirit he wants to send you. And if He does, consider that a great compliment, that he would send another child to you, one of his beloved spirit sons or daughters to be yours. What a privilege!
So that is my soapbox for the day! So anybody who has wondered why we, who have little money, have four children and will be having more, there is our reason.