Saturday, May 07, 2005

thoughts on offspring

A few months ago, I sent out an impromptu survey to friends and family members who I know are finished "being fruitful and multiplying". I asked: Why do you have the number of children you do? Their responses are below.

Dad of two girls -
"We discussed the number of children we wanted before we got married. When our second daughter came along, I asked my wife if she wanted to try for a boy, she said 'Nah.' So we made it so we couldn't have any more kids, and got on with trying to train the two we had."

Mom of a boy and a girl -
"What made us decide to have only two children? ...maybe the cost of college, my experience with only children, the fact that I had to have C-sections, that our 'batting average' wasn't good, and my age at our daughter's birth had something to do with our decision. I always felt great during pregnancy, and I healed quickly, but at 35 I didn't have the desire to experience the lack of sleep again. I am blessed to be able to experience both sexes. They are each so different. God's choice for me was for my children to be five and a half years apart. God knew what I could handle. I had to be older to handle what He had in store for me."

Dad of three girls and one boy -
"My wife and I decided early on that three children would be ideal. She was in a family of five children and I was in one of six. We had both seen how hard our parents worked and decided fewer children would be easier. My original theory behind three as the ideal, was that with two children, there is the on/off attention situation. Or in other words if one child is getting attention, then the other child is not...might lead to jealousy. However with three children, the child might not see it as a win/lose situation for attention, but rather as a group and would only expect a share of the attention. There would typically be times that at least two children would not be getting attention, so one could take comfort in the fact that they were not the only child not receiving attention. Also with three there would be more variety of interaction as it seems activity levels vary exponentially with the number of children, a good thing for kids. Now that we are older we would pick four or five as ideal. No doubt raising children is a primary purpose of life which brings much glory to God. And why not live life here to the fullest extent possible based on individual circumstances and guidance from Him? In our case God decided my super scientific method was wrong and added our fourth child to our family as a blessing. We are so thankful He did, because it came just as we were lamenting having fallen short of our ideal number of children, and being too old to birth another. One other thought is, as the last child leaves for college, life as a traditional family disappears. Why not delay that for as long as possible?"

Mom of one boy and one girl -
"When we had our son, I had no doubt I wanted another baby. I also wanted the experience of raising a boy and a girl. When our daughter was born, I was so excited about having one of each and both healthy that I was ready to quit. If we had had two boys I would have probably tried at least one more time. Looking back now I think I wish we had had one or two more but maybe not - it is an awesome responsibility to raise children (but great fun)." (Dad - "My wife said she wanted a boy and a girl and she was willing to have three kids to get one of each. Since we had a boy and girl in sequence, she got to stop early.")

Mom of two girls -
"We stopped at two so we'd never be out-numbered! Really, it just seems the right size family for us. We didn't plan to have three because we never wanted a middle child feeling left out. We didn't want more because I grew up in a larger family (five children) and I wanted to give more personal attention and time to our children than I had growing up. I'm also not really sure I would have the energy to care for more than two, and I know I certainly do not want to go through pregnancy, labor and postpartum again. So, two is perfect for us!"

Mom of one boy and one girl -
"My husband was in seminary, working part-time when our son was born. I worked until he was born, took about nine months off, worked another school year, and became pregnant with our daughter. With both pregnancies I had health problems, and then with school debt and a small salary to live on, we decided that we did not want to put any further strain on my health or our finances. Life dealt us some obvious answers. You may have other resources than we did, so that will definitely impact your decision and ability to have and support more than two or three children. It's certainly not the same for everyone."

Mom of one boy and one girl -
"I'm an only has its advantages and disadvantages just like being an oldest, youngest or middle. I don't believe that only children are spoiled rotten – in fact while they often have more 'stuff' than others, they frequently are raised by more protective/restrictive parents. That was my experience on both counts. An only child...has just as good a shot at being normal and healthy and well adjusted as any other kid. Now, all that said, when I was growing up, I always wanted brothers and sisters. There was a certain loneliness to being an only child. And from the time I was very young, I had as clear sense of my aloneness should anything happen to my parents. I also was keenly aware that someday I would be responsible for my parents in their old age, which is the stage of life I'm now approaching....So, when my husband and I married in our 30s, we intended from the start to have two children. I suffered a miscarriage after about two years of marriage and then had a difficult time becoming pregnant and was given a fertility drug to help things along. I tell people our kids were planned, we just planned to have them after about two and four years of marriage, and they wound up coming after three and almost six. And today, they're my best reasons to love and appreciate the pharmaceutical industry! When our son was a baby, I could not imagine loving another child as much as I loved him. This was not an issue for my husband at all because he had two brothers and had been raised by parents who loved them all. I talked with several friends about this, because I really did want another baby, but wanted that child to be as loved and adored as our son was. They assured me I needn't worry. One close friend said, 'A second child is when you realize how elastic God made your heart.' She was absolutely right. I love them both, more than I could ever imagine loving anyone or anything....So, a year or so after our daughter was born I began to ponder having a third. At this point, my own age had become a factor. If we could have had three children before I turned 40 or 41, we probably would have done so. (I was 35 and 38 when the kids were born.) But after my 41st birthday I knew it was probably not wise to pursue a third pregnancy, so I didn't. I've never regretted having my children later in life. I think I was calmer and more mature emotionally, and we certainly were more secure financially than most couples who have their children in their 20s. We've been able to travel with the kids and take them places we never could have gone if we'd had them ten years earlier. But there's just no denying that most of us don't have the same energy level at 40 that we do at 30, and so I think it was a wise decision to stop at two. Today, at 50, with a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old I think that's enough to handle, too! But if I have any regrets at all, it's that I didn't have time to have three."

Mom of one girl and one boy (the siblings are sixteen years apart) -
"In regards to your survey...we didn't decide how many children to have. I think that was in the hands of the Lord. I always thought about and planned on being a mom who had many children – at least five. That was a little scary to my husband, as that didn't exactly fit into his tidy picture of what our world would be like. After our daughter's birth, he definitely couldn't handle the thought of any more children, and I adjusted my ways of thinking in order to keep peace in our marriage. This may sound a little weird, but I think God 'closed my womb' all those years. I prayed for many years that God would provide a person in our daughter's life who would share in her adult life after her dad and I were gone. I had hopes that it would be a loving spouse or that my sister's boys would feel a special bond with her in case she needed help. I never dreamed that it would be a little brother! I am convinced that our son is the answer to my prayer. He adores his sister, he is smart, bright and an amazing thinker and problem solver. I believe that he will be able to have a relationship that will be an encouragement to our daughter all the days of her life. At night when I put him to bed, say his prayer and blessing, I am often overwhelmed by the knowlege of God's faithfulness. My husband and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary this year, and our lives do not look anything like we planned. Instead of sitting on the beach in Hawaii or some other tropical place, we'll probably be sitting on the sidelines of a soccer match. But we do believe that God is gracious and good in providing our unexpected blessing! I would adopt a baby in a heartbeat. However even the mention of that conversation sends my husband into a state of panic. We are content and thankful for our children, even though we do not have a map that is guiding us on this journey. We've learned a lot thoughout the years about children and parenting, but we are still walking by faith that God will continue transforming us into the parents that our children need."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your survey doesn't include parents of just one child. Was that intentional?


2:21 PM  
Blogger Jana said...

Nope, not intentional. No parents with only one child responded.

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the oldest of three. My wife the youngest of five. My wife thought we would have five boys, and we had one daughter. I don't think we have done any more or less for her than we would have with multiple children, material things not withstanding. The reason we had one was that my wife had such a tough time in her pregnancy and delivery. I have apologized to this precious daughter that the burden for her aging parent(s) will be on her.:) My prayer has always been that a Godly man would come into her life and together they could have half as much joy as we have had as a family. And she would not be alone after her mother and I are gone...In my opinion, Rowan will be blessed by having a sibling. Even if he were the only one, that would be great. There are too many other variables that influence how a child turns out. The joy will come from those things, not numbers.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Hey, I want to play! We have four children. When we attempted to start our family, the doctors told us it was "unlikely", so we adopted twin baby boys. Five years later, I gave birth (at home!) to a miracle son. Almost five years later, I gave birth (at home again!) at a second miracle, this time a daughter. I was almost 38 when she was born. We decided to "close down the factory" because we don't want to wake up every five years finding we've beat the odds yet again and are pregnant. My husband is almost 45 and we'd like to live at least a few years without having a toddler in the house before we retire or die!

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blessed mom of 8 children (4 by birth and 4 adopted from Russia and Haiti) and open to more if the Lord so chooses. ~Beth, age 41

12:42 PM  

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