Dear Barbara: I know being a mom is a high calling. Sometimes I wonder how high I want to be called. I feel exhausted with little ones tugging at my legs all day and my husband is asking for more. So how many kids should we have?
Oh, tired mom. I remember those days filled with little giggles and endearing, “Hold you me!” requests, along with sibling rivalry and defiant little eyes challenging mine as a toddler arm swiped mac n cheese off the high chair tray. Splat on the kitchen floor. Long hours, endless instructions, new baby nursing, and discovering my desires for order and beauty in my home were not the desires of my little ones.
There were days Dennis and I talked about more babies, even after our sixth, who was quite the surprise. And days I wasn’t sure I’d survive till bedtime.
Planning your family is an important discussion … an ongoing conversation that, for most couples, begins before marriage. Just as we would never consider taking a special occasion dress to a 12-year-old for alterations, so making important decisions must be taken to the One who has the knowledge to give us the right result.
We have to look at what God says in His Word.
We have to listen to Him and not other people.
We have to listen to Him and not ourselves: our own dreams … or our own fatigue.
Start with God’s perspective. Children are a gift. Countless times I did not feel my children were the kind of gift I wanted when they stretched me to my limits in utero and out! But clearly God says in Psalm 127:3, “Children are a heritage, a gift, from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” I must choose His eternal view rather than my momentary, self-focused, exhausted one.
The Bible makes it implicitly clear that one of the distinct purposes of marriage is procreation. It is the rare exception that God would clearly direct couples not to have children. He says in His word that He is the one who opens and closes the womb.
Sometimes infertility is temporary, like my friend Sara who mourned her closed womb and then discovered motherhood with four adopted children who needed forever families. After those four were given by God, He opened her womb and gave two bio kids. And sometimes He closes a womb permanently.
But aside from infertility issues, any Christian couple who seeks and desires to follow God in their lives, Scripture makes it clear in Genesis that His intentions are for couples to create children. Having children is one of three clear purposes for every married couple stated in Genesis, the book of beginnings.
First is to reflect God’s image as male and female made in His image. Second is the command to Adam and Eve to rule or reign over the earth as God’s co-regents, His representatives on earth. And third is God’s plan for believers to reproduce a godly heritage, children who will take God’s message to their generation, to carry on the work on His kingdom.
Children are an important part of God’s overall plan for our lives whether biologically conceived, adopted, or fostered. Jesus loved the little children He knew and met during His years on earth. And so should we, for we are like children even as adults: mistake prone, needy, complaining, hard to live with at times, and yet hopefully growing to maturity by His grace.
Yes, adding children to your family can feel like an inconvenience. The first one always radically changes a parent’s pre-kid lifestyle. But I can say without reservation parenting our six was worth it, even with the headaches, fears, and all their rebellious years. I learned more about God’s love for me—His mercy and grace and generous forgiveness— than I would have ever learned without children. God is a Father and His first two kids disobeyed royally, as have all of us who came from Adam and Eve. He knows a thing or two about parenting. He will guide you through the process of the years.
Children are good for us and we for them. Neither of us can grow up into the likeness of Christ without the other.
It’s a hard jump deciding to go for parenthood or to add one more. So again, don’t listen to your mother or mother-in-law’s wishes, which feel like pressure. Don’t listen to your own fears or your lifetime dreams.
Listen to God’s spirit. Trust Him. Rest in His leading, which is ALWAYS for our good.
And continue talking with your spouse. All the common sense circumstances of your life, like your ages and health issues must be considered. Be careful of letting finances get in the way. Children don’t need the latest of everything nor do they need the best education money can buy. They need the committed love of two parents who believe implicitly in God’s “nothing is impossible” character to guide them. He is a good father who listens and responds to our prayers.
Yes, most days, motherhood feels hard. A lot of days marriage feels hard, too. But the difficult feelings and admittedly difficult realities don’t trump what God has for our lives. Getting married and having kids—when and how many God tells you—is an act of faith.
Why? Because our lives belong to Him if we have chosen to follow Christ. It is His will that matters, not our own. We must be willing to hear and obey the Holy Spirit inside each as He guides us together to fulfill the “… good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
This decision, and countless others you’ll make as a couple, are when you throw yourselves on the floor before the throne. Both husband and wife deciding to trust and follow what God has for your unique family.
Together pray, “Okay God, I trust You.”
21 thoughts on “Dear Barbara: How Many Kids Should We Have?”
Thank you for this article!!!! I really needed. My husband and I have 3 precious children and we want more however since we got pregnant with our 3rd child the majority of our relatives and friends have something (not to kind) to say about our decision to be a “big” family. We have been blessed! We are in the process to become Foster parents. We don’t know how God will bring our 4th child into our life, maybe through adoption or perhaps we will get pregnant again.Today I just needed to hear that God is behind this desire of us of having more kids no matter what others think.
So glad this was an encouragement to you! :) And may the Lord guide as you prayerfully expand your family.
Thank you for that loving, but truthful, challenge to consider God’s Word on the subject of children! While there are certainly individual circumstances to take into consideration, God does seem to indicate that reproducing, both biologically and spiritually, was His intent for His children from the beginning. Being counter-culture in this area (as in any area) and living biblically is almost always difficult, but so very rewarding. As an older couple with young children (we have 8 children ages 15 down to 1 years old), we are definitely accustomed to comments from others, but we have learned to smile and try to point others to the Lord as well as rejoice in the blessings He has entrusted to us for a short while. We have chosen not to focus on our limited finances, fatigue at the end of the day, or the challenge of finding adequate transportation and carseats (15 passenger vans do exist and are handy with a large crew to move around). Instead we rejoice in how far God can stretch a Christian school teacher’s income, the fun we can have singing together, and the company of a sibling partner as we tackle the chorelist! And what joy to follow Jesus and grow together to be more like Him. The joys far outway the sacrifices we might have to make and the eternal dividends will be even greater, Lord-willing! Thanks for challenging the next generation to “keep looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith!”
I know children are a gift from God. My husband and I decided not to have children one because he already has a 12 year old from his first marriage and two because we feel it’s too late into our lives. I’m 35 and his 34. I do pray to God that He does His will in our lives. My husband has more downs than ups with God so it makes it hard at times to remind centered in God. I feel at peace with our decision. But I know that part of my peace if because I know I would carry all the load if we so have children. My husband is a good man but very impatient and he is still very much about his needs. Until God changes and matures his manhood maybe I would feel that I would get more support if children are a plan in God’s will. Please pray for o ur young marriage to remain in God’s will and to bring honor to God in all that we do. Thank you.
It is hard, Patricia! I’ll say that I have seen my husband (and myself) mature the fastest and most intensely from being a dad. There are so many reasons to question if it’s time. I would encourage you to pray for both of your hearts, that you’d be open to what God has for your family. Hugs! Honored to pray for your marriage.
Sometimes we think our life is heading one way and God steers us in a different direction. My youngest was turning 4 and I thought it was a good time to go back to school and move into a career. I had 4 kids with my husband plus his 2 (now adults). I thought it was His will for me to contribute to the family by working. So I worked hard in some college classes and applied to nursing school. I was excited that I got in and was due to start last August. Found out a week before I started that I was pregnant. I felt so betrayed by God. But over the time I was pregnant I leaned alot. I saw that I was feeling trapped and resentful of my mom/wife duties. I was using school and a career as an escape and would have never had time for my kids or my husband. My husband is my best friend and I love my kids. I don’t want to miss these years and I don’t want to take my family for granted. God used this baby to bring my heart in line with my family and I am so content in my life now. Being a mom of 7 (even if the 2 oldest are grown) has been the craziest but best thing that could’ve ever happened. God always knows what I need and it’s always better than what I thought I wanted. He’s never failed us when it comes to anything. I’m so glad he doesn’t always give me what I ask for. I’m certainly not planning on a number 8 though.
I struggle with fears to have more . We tried for fours to have our daughter during that time we have little girl that was stillborn in heaven . When I have had my daughter (the whole pregnancy was high risk for multiply reason ) I was told my uterus isn’t strong enough to care another baby it would b life threatening to me and baby . She 19 mth know since her birth I’ve been fearful to conceive again .
I just love all of you 4 sharing! After years of waiting (& sending up some babies to God’s playgroup up in heaven), we now have three answered prayers(Lily, Luke, Levi)! & whenever I have the chance to be alone at home… I turn up family life radio, listen to the archives, put on my sneakers, run through the house cleaning, cooking, laundry…great therapy for me! Just have to say, we Love Family Life so thankful for the Rainey’s leadership for America.
Such a great article! My husband and I just back from the mission field with big moves ahead and are experiencing this discussion as we are newly married. :) We read this article together and it gave some good sounding board discussion. Thanks for sharing.
My wife and i have 8 children. While she was a only child and i only having one brother a big family was something neither of us planned. People often ask me why i am not stressed out and how my wife can manage when im at work and i simply tell them this, “if God is going to give us these blessings, then i firmly believe he will provide a way to take care of them. God has not failed to deliver in taking car e of us.
Amen to that!
This was encouraging! We recently found out that I’m pregnant with our 7th child, Lord willing, our 6th on earth. But this time we’ve found it harder to tell people. We grow weary of being looked at cross eyed by both believers and unbelievers. It steals some of our joy to feel we must defend our embracing God’s plan for our family. Thank you for the reminder to hear God’s voice. I’m not going to defend anymore but walk joyfully in the blessings God has given and pray that somehow it helps others see children differently and Jesus in the midst.
Anna–Glad this was an encouragement to you. I am proud of you for seeking the Lord and His plan for your family despite the feedback you receive. He will be pleased. AND Congratulations on your 7th! May he/she be a delightful addition to your family.
I just want to congratulate you on your pregnancy. May God bless you! You are not alone, Anna.
Yes, this! I understand completely. We recently found out I’m pregnant for the 9th time. This will be earth baby #7 and I feel the same way. And I too loved this article.
With 6 kids…what vehicle did you drive?
We’re at the point that come October, our 7 seater van will only have one seat available.
We desire to adopt if it’s God’s will. As well as bio children.
Rachel–Congratulations on baby #7! We had a Ford Econoline. It was something special– outfitted with custom curtains, upholstery and we even had a baby crib set up right behind the drivers seat for our youngest. Seat belts were optional in those days. Amazing that we all survived. :)
We have 6 kids. We drive a Pontiac Montana. It seats 8. But we will be upgrading to a 15 passenger van or bus, because we’re having another in November :)
YES!!! ❤️ So grateful for this word of encouragement!! Children are a blessing!! When we first started our family & had 3 children we did NOT seek God, but rather what was “normal” culturally speaking and also we tended to only listen to our fatigue & tiny bank account. So I had a tubal ligation. But after a few years and a very in depth study into God’s word about his gift of children, we had a major change of heart about limiting the size of our family. So we finally DID SEEK HIM, and he provided a tubal ligation reversal and blessed us with 4 more children!! He is the God of the impossible! Life is not always easy, but it is RICH with blessing. For anyone considering a large family— pray, seek God, and TRUST HIM! You won’t regret it! Isa 40:11 “He gently leads those with young”.
WOW what an amazing story!! Thank you for sharing Bonnie! :)
Same story as yours, except after the tubal reversal we have not had anymore children. It’s been over a year since the reversal and I am learning to trust the Lord with this lack of more children as well. It is a struggle because we desire more children, but the consequences of sin are real and I may never again conceive. Either way, I’m learning to trust Him more and He is good.