Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What Determines Your Family Size?

How many children will you have?

That's a question that you hopefully answered before you got married and started having them!

Are you trusting God to determine that number?

Are you believing for a "quiver-full"?

Are you going to have as many as finances allow?

Or have you determined that number some other way?

I don't have a good answer to that question! (And by the way, I don't think there are any "wrong" answers to the above questions). Before my husband and I were married, we desired a large family of maybe 5 or 6 children. Fast forward 10 months into our marriage, after the birth of our son, and our answer changed a little bit!

At one point during my son's first few weeks, my husband looked at me and said "maybe one's enough!"

Of course, you know the story, we also have a daughter, so, obviously one was not enough.

Some days I really think that I might like to experience another pregnancy and have at least one more child. But then I'll have one of "those" days as a mom, and really begin to doubt myself and my ability to "stay sane", though I know that God is faithful to provide grace for me should He decide to bless us with another child.

One major thing that keeps me from fully trusting God with my fertility (and just having as many children as occur naturally- without any birth control) is the amount of stress that pregnancy and the several weeks postpartum can cause for not only my marriage, but also the other children in my world. (And this concern only because somehow I think that I'll have like, twenty children if I just let my body do it's thing! Okay, not really, but you see what I mean right?)

When I was pregnant with my son, for example, I absolutely lost all desire for physical intimacy. (I'm just being real here...hopefully that's not TMI!) Whether that dramatic change was due to sub-par nutrition, or wacky hormones, or something else altogether, I know it came as a major shock to my new husband (and me too- I had no idea what was going on). Thankfully, that situation was resolved, and we had a much easier time with my next pregnancy. But it was still a season of trial for our marriage. And it seriously had the potential to cause things to really go awry in our relationship.

Other women may deal with other kinds of anxiety during pregnancy, like the woman that has dealt with depression before becoming a mother (not to mention those that deal with postpartum depression). Pregnancy may be a time of real struggle for some women to simply cope with life let alone nurture a marital relationship.

Then there's the issue of pregnancy and subsequent children affecting the older children. We did everything we could think of to help our son prepare for the arrival of his sister. I told him on a very regular basis that a baby was going to come to live with us. We even sent a picture message to his grandma to share with him once she was born (he wasn't allowed in the hospital due to the swine flu scare at the time). More than anything, I think having another baby affected my relationship with him in a way that I didn't anticipate. Obviously, he's still my baby, but at least in the earlier days of his sister's infancy, he started to become closer to his dad, and a little less receptive to me. That was something I wasn't prepared for.

So, while I do believe the Scripture that tells us that children are a heritage from the Lord, and that every good and every perfect gift comes from above, I also believe that God gives us wisdom. I am in no way saying that pursuing a "quiver-full" is not the way to go, but I think God directs each individual family. Besides, nobody ever said that all quivers are the same size. Plus, with a smaller family size, we are more motivated to take better aim with the arrows in our quiver (at least that's my opinion).

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5

All that to say that a large family may not be for everyone. You must pray and seek God in your individual situation. Perhaps He has called you and your husband to a certain area of ministry, and it just wouldn't be practical to have a large family. Then again, you may hear Him speak the words "trust me" and direct you to not intervene in any way, and see that He'll bless you with just as many (or as few) as you can handle in your situation. After all, He knows what you're capable of more than you do. Don't you think?

What's your experience in this area?

Has God directed you to have a specific number of children?

Are you fully trusting God with your fertility?

Leave me a comment! I would love to hear your thoughts. :)


  1. I really appreciate your perspective on this issue. I know people who don't use birth control and just trust God, and they got pregnant right after getting married. I think that would be really, really hard on the relationship. I think it's important to use wisdom and be a good steward, and if God really wants you to have a child, even if you're using birth control, he can still make it happen!

    My husband and I have talked about how many we want to have. We're not totally in agreement: I'd like 3 or 4, and to adopt 1, he wants to break the world record for children born to one woman: 69. LOL! Actually, he'd go for 6-10. I think after we have one, we might change our minds :)

  2. My husband and I are trusting God. I was on birth control at the beginning of our marriage for other health reasons, but it made me really sick and emotional, so I got off it pretty fast. I believe God opens and closes the womb as He sees fit for every family. It's scary to trust Him sometimes, especially when planning to go into full-time ministry. However, if we trust Him with every other part of our life, why not trust Him with our fertility? I want Him to be in control of EVERY part of my life. That's my opinion anyway...

  3. I want a large-ish family as well (maybe 4?). But I guess since we just found out we are expecting we will see in less than a year if that changes! I think you are absolutley right though ... we do have to trust God with our feritility! That can be so hard though. About a month before I got pregnant, in my quiet time, God was challenging me if I trusted HIM with that area of my life or not. I realize that I didn't and starter working twoards it. Even though having a baby wasn't in our plans it was in His. I know that he was preparing me for his plans. :)

  4. Emily, we are one of those couples that got pregnant right away after we got married (we conceived within about two weeks of our wedding) and I can attest to the fact that it was difficult. But I guess, looking back, I will say that it exposed some weak areas in our relationship, but ultimately strengthened us because we became aware of some big issues from the start. I guess we kinda "hit the ground running" though :). Mariposa, I like what you said about God opening and closing the womb as he sees fit. So true...as reproduction is not merely an act of our will anyway!

    I do think that agreement between the husband and wife is extremely important in this area though.

    I always have to remind myself that as I delight myself in the Lord, He will give me the desires of my heart (and sometimes the ones I don't necessarily admit to having!) We just need to always trust Him, He sees the end from the beginning! :)