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  1. I am the mom of 11 – 10 I gave birth to, one-at-a-time (no twins), and a nephew that became ours after my sister died. I agree with much of what you said, and did TOTALLY NOT miss periods for lengthy ‘periods’ of time. My brain and body were more than worn-out after my 10th and we felt it was definitely okay to be done. We have gotten funny looks and random comments and speechless responses when we tell them how many we have. It always gets the kids laughing afterwards. I cannot imagine life without ANY of them and think how empty my heart would be if we had stopped at the typical 2-4 that is ‘normal’ in our area. I have 4 grandchildren, the first being born when my youngest was 4. 🙂 I DO miss nursing and having new babies around, but am finding my new ‘normal’ to be fun in it’s own way. I am also homeschooling our two youngest and I love it and feel SO good about doing it. I don’t think I could have homeschooled all of mine, but the Lord is helping with it right now and making it a wonderful experience for the most part. Thank you for your amazing example of faith, candor, truth, and support of large families.

    1. You’re 100% right about how different life would be right now if we’d stopped after just a couple of children. I’m SO THANKFUL not to be dealing with an empty nest right now. What a sweet time you must be having homeschooling those last two children, Laura! That’s a wonderful way to savor the final few years with kids still at home. 🙂

  2. We have a bigger than average family and have heard our share of negative comments. But one time when I was leaving our public library with a few children someone asked, “Are all those children yours?” I had a flash of inspiration and replied, “No, I just checked them out at the library!” I wasn’t trying to be rude, just funny, and I felt like I had been waiting my whole life to use that response.

  3. We’ve recently committed to the big family idea and have decided not to use birth control after baby three arrives in a few weeks.

    Given the health risks of closely spaced pregnancies (uterine rupture, premature birth, etc), did you have a standard amount of time you tried to wait between your pregnancies? How did you know your body was ready to go again? What’s the closest spacing you have?

    1. Our closest spacing was 16 months, between the first two. When my oldest was six months, I tried to coax him to sleep through the night by giving him water to drink when he woke up instead of nursing him back to sleep. It didn’t work, but after two weeks of attempting the trick, by fertility returned and I got pregnant the very next month.

      For the rest of my children, I nursed pretty much on demand. And the rest of our babies were naturally spaced almost exactly 2 years apart. Other than breastfeeding, we did nothing to prevent pregnancy or “plan” the spacing. That’s just how it worked out, in my case.

  4. My husband and I decided last fall to permanently ditch hormonal birth control and embrace the big-family lifestyle. We have five-year-old twins and are expecting number three any day now.

    We’re happy (eager!) to have more children after our son is born, but I also know back-to-back pregnancies can be dangerous or difficult for my body. Have you had any health difficulties with close spacing, and is there a minimum amount of time you have always tried to wait between pregnancies? How do you know when your body is ready again?

    1. I’m sorry this answer is so delayed, Abigail. I did experience a uterine prolapse after baby #3 and #4, which was probably more pronounced because I disregarded my doctor’s instruction not to lift anything heavier than the baby for 6 weeks following the birth. I was a much more conscientious patient with subsequent babies and didn’t have any further problem with that condition!

      Other than that, I didn’t give a lot of thought to whether my body was ready to try for another baby or not. My husband and I enjoyed intimacy with unfailing regularity and never did anything to prevent a pregnancy. Of course, this made perfect sense in my case, since I have been blessed with easy pregnancies, easy deliveries, healthy babies, a strong marriage, even-keeled emotions, a supportive family, good general health, stable finances, a peaceful home, a free country, etc. etc. etc.

      Had any of those conditions been different, we might have made different decisions. Things being as they were, though, it was easy to leave the decision as to when, where, and how many babies we would have up to God.

      Had any of those

    1. The study I was referencing was originally published in 1998 by Hiedemann, Suhomlinova, and O’Rand and was quoted in the book Open Embrace (quoted below) by Sam and Bethany Torode.

      “The strongest predictor of marital stability is the presence of small children in the
      home.” Nevertheless, I would not recommend having a baby in hopes of patching up a troubled marriage — that was not the point of the study.

      I think the researchers were rather examining the effects of an empty nest on the stability of a marriage and found that the the older a couple is when their last child leaves home, the better chance their marriage will survive. “The 20-year marriage is more vulnerable to the disruptive effects of the empty nest syndrome than the 30-year marriage.”

  5. Yes, many great unexpected benefits- thank you for sharing these! I have found many similar ones in my large family and I wouldn’t change what I do for the world! I can’t help but feel that our culture discourages people from having large families and that many miss out on the blessings. Even churches don’t seem to encourage this form of ministry- but it is one of the most effective ways of soul winning, I believe, as we have daily interaction, warm parental love, and character building opportunities with our children that are not available in most other ministry settings. Such a great design God had when He made the family!

    1. You are so right, LaRae, about parents having an opportunity to impact children in a way and to a degree that is extremely rare in any other kind of ministry. We need to make the most of it! It’s a wonderful opportunity, but also a sobering responsibility. Our spouses and children know us better than anyone else. They see whether we really LIVE what we say we believe. As mothers, we should pray that God would sanctify us and conform us to the image of Christ, so that none of our words, actions, or attitudes would prove to be a stumbling block to the children He has placed in our care. If we want the joy of knowing that our children are walking in the Truth, we must lead the way by walking there first ourselves. It IS a marvelous design, and I wish the church would do more to support and encourage it.

  6. We have 6, ages 6 months to 9 years. It’s more challenging for us because we are expats living in one of those Asian countries where they are actually paying couples to have more than 1 child. This society is not set up for large family-living. We cannot buy supplies in bulk, we don’t have a vehicle, there are very few group discounts, and we cannot have a yard or a big house etc. That being said, many people think we shouldn’t have “so many,” but the Lord gave us our kids and we know we are doing the right thing. The nationals love it that we have “so many” and actually encourage us to have more! What bothers me is when people who have 1 or 2 kids think everyone should be just like them, or people who have “more than the recommended amount” think everyone should be like them. There are pros and cons to both. I enjoy my friendships with mom’s of 1 or 2 just as much as my friendships with mom’s of many and I find that all mom’s, regardless of the number of children they have, share similar challenges and joys. God gave us each a different path and that makes us unique and beautiful. It doesn’t matter how many children you have as long as you are walking with the Lord. It’s our job to embrace the life God gave us and not judge someone who has a different life.

    1. I agree with you, Shelly. Some of my dearest friends have chosen to limit their family size, yet they are “kindred spirits” in every other way, and I’m so very thankful to God to know them. It would be a lonely life, indeed, if I restricted my friendships to only those people who think and live exactly like I do. In fact, I’d even have to break fellowship with my own husband and the majority of my children if “having identical opinions about everything” were the condition upon which our continued friendship hinged. Ha!

  7. So far we have seven kids in ten years here! At one point I went six years with only one cycle! I hear ya! Lol! Great list! We love our large family!

    1. That’s awesome, Amber! It’s been seven years now since my youngest was born. We still enjoy all those group discounts and built-in playmates, but I’m really missing those sweet newborn cuddles and the lengthy breaks from my monthly cycle!

  8. I have a single child. I don’t need discounts to go to the zoo. I pay less that you without needing discounts. I don’t need to go off without my child since I’m not overwhelmed by a dozen. My child has opportunities and experiences few kids get. She takes ballet at a world-class school, take ice skating lessons, violin lessons, is a regular attendant of Broadway productions and symphonies and the opera (since you might not know, those things are all very expensive, at over $100 per ticket, easy, and sometimes much more, and that adds up fast), she has a concept of her own space, she has more one-on-one time with me and her father, we can afford to take regular family vacation, and so on. My one child will never be seen as unpaid live-in labor in charge of babysitting. We couldn’t afford these experiences with and for her if we had tons of other kids.

  9. I am a single mom to one bio (age 7), three adopted (ages 5, 4, 3) and two foster (ages 8 & 9). Never thought I would do it alone, but my heart pulled me and I followed. I feel so blessed every day for where my life has led me, and for my children. I can’t imagine my life without them. This article is so true. Thank you for reminding me of the many lessons my kids are learning now that will help them later on.

  10. I have five children and I love family pictures. I just love family pictures of large families. I don’t know why but they are so beautiful to me. Since my fourth and fifth children have joined the family I love how our pictures have a group feel. Also I love meal times with a large family. All of us eating and talking and laughing. You have a great list, but these are just two more that popped into my mind. 🙂

  11. A twist on #8 is music. We have nine children (13-29) and we can sing 4 part harmony and have several instruments to play. Love that! And come tax time, it’s nice to have that many dependents to claim 🙂 I also get so much joy when I see the great friends my older children and their spouses are with each other.

  12. As a mother of ten, I whole-heartedly agree! Thanks for reminding me of all the positives as I sometimes tend to focus on the negatives… the never-ending laundry and dirty kitchen/house syndrome, feeling like I’m not getting it all done excellently, etc. We moms of many must remember that God gave us these children, and HE KNEW OUR FLAWS when He gave them!. He blessed and continues to bless us as we seek to raise up our “tribe” to glorify Him.

  13. I love this! We have a two year old, an eight month old, and another on the way. My favorite of the ones I’ve already experienced is #5. Nothing like the tenderness our babies draw out of my husband. Looking forward to more children and experiencing more of these unexpected benefits in the years to com. 🙂

  14. that’s a really great list! i want to take this discounted group rate for a marketing class but it’s so hard to get 25 people in. and i’ve seen the babysitters in big families…it’s economical really, i have to pay for our babysitter and she’s worth quite a lot of money! 😀

  15. This article is so refreshing. Everytime I tell people I want to have a big family I get that blank stare and then its usually followed up with reasons why having a big family is not practical. Its always nice to reminded of the many benefits!

  16. Loved this! We have one eight month old and I’m expecting my second in August. We hope to have many more. I grew up in a big family and loved it.

  17. Jennifer, marvelous article. I especially agree with #10. Not many people agree with me on that when I tell them that a woman is the most beautiful when she is pregnant. For some reason, Dorothy and I have not suffered from the ’empty nest’ even though our last left in ’96. God has been our nest filler.

  18. Wonderfully written. I agree with all of these points. Point 15 is particularly pertinent to us right now as our eldest two leave for uni in the next 10 days, yet with 6 younger ones still at home, including a 5 year old, we will thankfully be far from lonely empty nesters.

  19. As a father of 11 children (now ages 11 to 34) I can attest to the fact that you are right in your observations. We miss the baby stage since our last one was out of that stage for years but now with grandchildren form 0-7 years old it is just more of the same and we enjoy it. Great article and what a blessing large families are! Can’t think of a real good reason to add to your list, but maybe one would be that theres nothing like child to keep you humble and help me in understanding my relationship with the Heavenly Father!

    1. Hi, am 18 years old. well, as you can see I’m obsessed with the idea of having many kids. I’m the only child, my mother had a lot of miscarriage over the years until she gave up. well, am happy that it’s always people like you to encourage the next generation. thank you very much.

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