Sunday, March 8, 2009

Motherhood Part III: Quiverfull

If you missed the other posts about motherhood, you can see them here:
Part I (on not delaying childbearing)
Part II (mother staying at home)
Part IV (for those who are childless)

Today in Part III you get to hear my thoughts on family planning. (Aren't you lucky?!)

Part I has a comprehensive list of links to my sources, but I've tried to include links for each individual quote as well. ☺ All italicized/indented portions of the post are quotes, boldfacing of course is mine.
I posted once before about the religious reasons behind having large families, but today's post has more depth, and lots more quotes.


Whenever someone asks us how many kids we hope to have, Hubby smiles and says, "well, at least one more." This is because we don't know how many children we want. We know we'd like several, but how many that means we don't know. We have decided to just take it one child at a time, and see what feels right at the time.

"Children are an heritage of the Lord and . . . happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them" (Psalm 127: 3-5 ).

There is a recent movement, or rather, there is a recent name for an old movement, and it's called "being quiverfull." It comes from the scripture in Psalms that I quoted above. Being a quiverfull family does not mean that you have to have 20 children, or even 8, rather it means that you do your family planning with the Lord, and are open to accepting and raising as many children as He sees fit to send you. I know quiverfull families who have 4 children and families who have 23. I know quiverfull families that are growing slowly via biological means, and families that grow 2 or 4 children at a time via adoption. The point is not about how many children one has, but about the attitude with which one approaches family planning.
The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. [link]
Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations. [link]
Whereas parents are obligated to teach their children, I would suggest that having several children can be a great help. Children learn by example, and having lots of examples is very helpful. (Might the older child teach the younger one something naughty? Well of course they might, but trust me that we oldest kids teach the younger ones a lot of good things too.) Also, I think that when the microcosm of your family has the diversity of multiple ages and personalities, it's a better preparation for life in the real world.
I have always loved the words of Solomon: "Children are an heritage of the Lord and . . . happy is the man [and woman] that hath [their] quiver full of them" (see Psalm 127: 3-5 ).
I know the special blessings of a large and happy family, for my dear parents had a quiver full of children. Being the oldest of eleven children, I saw the principles of unselfishness, mutual consideration, loyalty to each other, and a host of other virtues developed in a large and wonderful family with my noble mother as the queen of that home. ~ETBenson [link]
I come from a family of 9 children. I loved always having a sibling around--sure, sometimes they get on your nerves, but on the other hand when there are lots of siblings to choose from, it's pretty easy to just go away from the annoying one and play with somebody else instead. I had often thought that only children must be lonely, but I never realized it fully until my own son was an only child for over 6 years. Of course the first 3 of those were before Hubby and I met and married, but then it took us 3 years and several miscarriages before we moved up to being a two-kid family. I watched my son develop into a lonely child. He was accustomed to being the only kid in the house, and became pretty self-centered and demanding (more than I ever remember being at his age). In some ways he did not really grow up, because he was still 'the baby.' When we finally did have a second child, the transition was really hard for him. Obviously the spacing between our children was not of our preference, but if I had ever doubted the wisdom of having children closer together, my experiences suggest to me that having kids two or three years apart is easier on them than if they are 6 years apart.
Do not curtail the number of your children for personal or selfish reasons. Material possessions, social convenience, and so-called professional advantages are nothing compared to a righteous posterity. In the eternal perspective, children--not possessions, not position, not prestige--are our greatest jewels. ~ETBenson [link]
For anyone who argues that having a large family is just too expensive, I will tell you that the largest families I know are usually the most frugal. And no, that doesn't mean that everyone wears thrice-patched hand-me-downs and lives on beans and rice. It does mean that they grow gardens and take care of their things and learn to work hard....but I've always considered hard work, frugality, and carefulness to be virtues. I know lots of big families who live comfortably enough on one income, and often that one income is not particularly large. My dad is a school teacher. The question of 'affording children' is not about dollar amounts so much as it is about willingness to take what you have and just figure things out.
Kids from big families also learn how to get along with other people--it's a survival skill. They learn to be generous and considerate of others. They learn to be friends with people of a variety of ages; in other words, they learn what real life is like while they are still living at home. There are enough of them to help with fixing the meals and cleaning up the messes that they make--more important life skills. There are enough kids to form teams and play games or sports without having to wait for friends/neighbors to come over. Children from large families have built-in life-long friends no matter where they go or how often they move.
Kids from big families also get to be part of fun things like this.
Brigham Young emphasized: "There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty?--To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can" (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 197).
Yes, blessed is the husband and wife who have a family of children. The deepest joys and blessings in life are associated with family, parenthood, and sacrifice. To have those sweet spirits come into the home is worth practically any sacrifice. ~ETBenson [link]
Now please trust me that I know from experience that some families will not be able to have as many children as others. Some may not be able to have any at all. Some of us miscarry, or have physical limitations or complications which prevent us from having many children (or any at all). Some have mental health issues which affect their ability to be parents. The point is not about how many children we have or how they come to us, no, the point of all these quotes is that we should not avoid children for selfish reasons like money, education, or social position. We should be open to having children, and to having as many as we are able (physically, mentally, etc).
We should make God part of our family planning--and we should plan to have families!


Katrina said...

Thank you again for such wonderful words. Happiness truly is found in families (particularly those who look to the Lord)!

Becky N. said...

I think sometimes I'm not as open as I could be. Yet another weakness to improve. But I agree with the thought very much. Thank you for your always so well-put-together posts!

Christa said...

I wish we lived closer! I have found a kindred soul in you. I have had this conversation with my mom before. My aunt made a comment when I had my miscarriage that maybe it was God's way of tellingme not to have anymore children. I just laughed. She suggested I start taking birth control to prevent it from happening anymore, and that two children surely was enough. Yes for some two is, but my heart yearns for more children, and not because I want to be "that family witha bunch of kids," but because I want to be a part of my Heavenly Father's plan more than anything in this world. He gave me part of his power to create something, and I entend to take full advantage. We are often asked how many children we would like, I usually say "7 to start with" because I know that is a number I can be happy with and people won't jump out of their socks over, but I will take every child Heavenly Father sends, I hope several of them come in doubles, I'd love to get suprise triplets (I know I sound crazy but I found two just did keep be busy enough), but I will be happy with what my Father has in store for me if it be the two I have or a 2 digit number, no matter what I want my quiver full.

Destiny said...

My friends and I discuss this regularly as it can be hard at times to have faith that Heavenly Father will not send you more children than you can handle, especially if you feel you like you have already met that limit. I liked that you pointed out it's not the quantity, but you're willingness to accept what Heavenly Father has for you and accept His will.

Kate said...

Thanks for visiting my blog today, (the Paul Harvey post). I have been a faithful lurker, and first time commenter here. :)

I am enjoying your thoughts on family, kids, family planning etc. Thanks for your well put words on these subjects!

megandjon said...

I've really enjoyed these three posts about motherhood and children. I already agreed with all this, but it sure is nice to feel buoyed up by the words of the prophets, past and present!

Maggie said...

Thanks for this!

As you know this is on DH and I's mind. We actually just don't believe in taking permanent measures to limit children but with how sick I get and how fertile I apparently am it seems like it's what we should do. Still, I feel so guilty. Am I being selfish because I just don't want to be sick ever again? Or does my pride actually rest in my beliefs on birth control?

But you're right, it's how we approach it. I have been dieing to go to the temple lately which isn't possible right now but it's definitely something I want to take there.

nicole said...

Wonderful post. Love these quotes on family planning. I believe it. Thank you for the reminder!

Kelly said...

Thank you for this post. I couldn't agree more.

People often say to me "I don't know how you do it" or "I could never do that!" [I have 6 children, age 10 and under].

These folks who say this are forgetting God.

God WILL give us the Grace to manage what He gifts us with. When I had my first child, I could *barely* manage just the one. Then I got it "together" with her after a while and it got easy. The same with my second, and so on. Each child has pushed me over the edge to "overwhelmed" for a few weeks/months until I grew into the role.

God does not abandon us.

I wish more people saw children as the amazing gifts that they are and not as burdens to bear...

Anyway, enough. I just really enjoyed your well documented post! :)


saskia said...

I have 6- I am SO Lucky! and I hear from other LDS mamas the "you're having more?" Why yes, I am. I'd love to be done, really, I would. I'm tired!! but I can't deny that spirit. I think I have one more then I am done. I will be glad for that day, but I am sure I will also miss it. I come from 10 children, I LOVE IT! I might link this post in my blog. I need to read your others now.

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