Large Families and the Oldest Child


The way we perceive the blessing (or non-blessing) of children makes every difference in the way we understand all the work, sacrifice and joy that surrounds them.

When people see our large family, we get the gamut of comments.  Often though, you can hear concern for the older children–especially for the oldest–as they assume that surely it must be drudgery for her to have to help take care of them all.  And, this might be a natural conclusion IF you have a jaded view of the blessing of children.

But if you recognize children for the gifts of life that they are, then the very real work that comes with those gifts–from helping Mom during pregnancy and throughout recovery to helping a sibling learn to tie his shoe–is not drudgery, but is a normal part of life that happens to be accompanied by great joy.

I see this phenomenon with my oldest daughter as we have brought our eighth newborn home.  Never have I seen a “child” so carried away with her sibling.  She is positively enamored. She fidgets until baby has slept long enough that she can wake her.  She coos at her constantly, calling her “Little Miracle”.  She looks up from Ellia’s face into mine and says, beaming, “I can’t wait to have my own…do you think we’ll be pregnant together?;-)

All this from a 15-year-old who has had to take up some serious slack  over the last few months.  And she did it willingly, never questioning or feeling sorry for herself.  To her, this is life with meaning and purpose.  To her, what’s a few extra chores compared with the incredible gift of a new life in the house?

She has been asked many times–you can hear it in their voices–“Do you have to help take care of all these kids?” She can’t get over their tone.  She can’t comprehend that they don’t feel the joy she feels, that the “work” (God forbid we actually work in this life) she does is just as normal a part of her life as the work anyone else does, and she understands the eternal aspect of it to boot!

(And apparently, people can’t believe she actually has a life of her own–that is, plenty of time to pursue her loves and interests, to work on her music, to read, to write, to be with friends, to hone her photography skills, to milk the cow (she loves it), to walk in the woods…)

Just a neat perspective I’ve been observing since we came home.  And I can’t count how many times she has said, as we sit down to eat, “Our table is full now…(pause, big smile…) Guess we’ll have to build a bigger one!

It’s all about perspective.  “Don’t feel sorry for her“, Missus in the grocery store; she actually enjoys it now, and the eternal reward is yet to come!

68 Responses to “Large Families and the Oldest Child”

  1. Terri says:

    Oh, I just had to comment on this one! I was raised practically an only child because my 2 brothers were so much older so I was about the most self-consumed, selfish, self-absorbed person on the planet. My mom did everything for me. She still talks with pride about the one meal I made in 11th grade (was an assignment for French class!) Now I am expecting #9 and my oldest is my 16 year old daughter. She is amazing. It brings tears to my eyes just watching her (she’s playing the piano right now). She loves the home, joys in learning all the skills of homemaking and delights in her siblings. I am so thankful to the Lord for giving me this precious jewel and for drawing her heart to what is important. It still floors me that she (and next younger sister also) live such lives of purpose. As a teenager I spent all my time at the mall, with friends, etc…never wanted to be home. I think that is the difference. Teenagers (hate that term) spend their time texting, shopping, hanging out and they have no purpose and society sees this as normal and right. No!! What is right is living a life of purpose and learning to love work and service to others. This has taken me a long time to learn and my flesh still fights it. But being raised with that mindset has given our children a totally different view and it truly is a grace from God. Didn’t mean to brag about my oldest – it truly has been a work of the Lord. When others ask about her and what I did (haha) to produce these results I say “Trust me, God did this in spite of me – the goodness of God truly does draw us to Him.” And He knew I needed lots of goodness to draw me!!!

  2. Kelly L says:

    How beautiful that you both have trained her with love, discipline and duty. Not only is she building an eternal reward, but how pleased God must be with you, the parents.

  3. MrsSWM says:

    Amen! I’m the oldest of 8 and I LOVED being a big sister (and still do.) I adored every new baby and would have defended them to the death.
    I have six little ones of my own now and my youngest brother is 16. The blessing of my younger siblings is now blessing the next generation as they have been the best aunties and uncles any child could ever hope for.

    They have also grown from being the babies that I cared for to being my dearest friends who are now a help to ME. My youngest sister is 9 1/2 years younger than me; I remember carrying her around on my hip. For the past two years she has been living with my family and caring for my household as I struggle to recover from a chronic illness that has at times knocked me flat on my back. The little brothers that I used to carry on my back and read to are now carrying MY children around and reading books to them.

    Watching younger siblings grow from babyhood to adulthood (With all five of my little brothers now taller than me) has helped to give me a perspective that I would not have otherwise had. I have seen that time is short and children really do grow up! This helps me to treasure the the time with my own children more.
    Evert bit of experience that I had as a big sister in helping with babies, managing the laundry for the household, homeschooling my littlest brothers, learning to multi-task and more, has been a great blessing to me as a mother now.
    Yep, it was a big job and there was work involved but there were blessings then and blessings continue now.
    When we only think of the ease of the moment we have NO IDEA what we might be missing out on in the future. I am so thankful that my parents had my younger siblings even when those around them thought they were crazy. I have been one of the biggest recipents of the blessing of those babies.

  4. Sarah says:

    Babies are such a gift! The one or two people who have looked down on us for having a (gasp!) fourth child just don’t get it!

  5. Lucy T says:

    Yes,I have to agree here people don’t get it my 13 year old son is in love with our little 8 mo old daughter our 5th child.He loves to take care of her.He is also the child who thinks we should adopt because “all kids should have good parents”what a joy that boy is.

  6. Sheila says:

    Beautiful post, and encouraging comments!
    It has so much to do with the PARENTS’ attitudes! I am expecting our sixth, and I often joke with my children that they have to have as many as we have, apiece, when they have families of their own. Seriously, though, we do our best to convey to them what a blessing they are, and how grateful we are that the Lord has entrusted them to us. Consecquently, they are all VERY excited about a new sibling (and were very sad when we miscarried twice last year).
    On the contrary, my husband’s grandma grew up in a home where there were sixteen children. She was the oldest and couldn’t WAIT to leave home. She commented once that, “You know, back then, they couldn’t do anything about it (i.e. birth control).” So sad!
    And, the whole “how could you do that to your children?” attitude is sickening. It’s because our society is so self-absorbed, and no one should have to do anything they don’t want to do.
    Whether we have large or small families, children should always be viewed as blessings.

  7. Oh, Kelly, I can’t tell you how happy this post made me. Recently, my mother has been asking me whether it will be fair for Sophia. You see, she came from a family of seven, but her parents did not understand the blessing of children and also had a very unhealthy marriage. Worst of all, the sixth child was the clear favorite of her parents and still is to this day. The rest of them were shunted aside and emotionally abused throughout their childhoods.

    Even though my mother knows my husband and I would never be abusive to our daughter or clearly favor one of our other children over her (how could we–she is incredible!), she worries about the responsibilities Sophia will have with a larger family (which is almost inevitable considering our age and our fertility).

    But already, I see how much Sophia will LOVE being a big sister to any little siblings God might put in our life. Since the moment we brought James home 10 weeks ago, Sophia has adored him. She has never had even a hint of jealousy or resentment. She love to cuddle him. When he cries, she is the first to notice, running to me with a look of deepest concern on her face and saying, “Mama! Baby James crying! Sad!” Then, we go take care of him together. She loves to hug him, “help” change his diapers, and hunt for toys to amuse him. She lays with him on his blanket during tummy time and babbles to him. She WANTS to feed him…we’re trying to teach her that little babies cannot have cups of milk or raisins!

    Since when did responsibility become a bad thing? Especially when the responsibility brings such blessings with it? No wonder parents don’t want more children! No wonder spouses abandon each other! The responsibilities of family are vast, but they are also so incredibly filled with joy and with great lessons that draw us closer to our Savior! I HOPE to give the gift of such responsibilities to all my children in abundance.

  8. Quinn says:

    The body of your post is written in her face. Simply beautiful!

  9. There is a difference in what you describe in your family and what I have witnessed in other large families. The greatest difference from you thoughts here and a family I am familiar with (6 children) is that the two oldest boys are adamant they will NEVER have a large family themselves.
    How sad that some large families miss out on the joy and the reward of siblings esteeming each other before themselves. Your family is a blessing to watch.
    BTW, in all the time I have been reading here…you have a cow?! I had to read that line twice to make sure I had read it right!

  10. Word Warrior says:

    Kim,

    LOL! I should clarify…it’s my mom and dad’s cow, but we all live on the same farm, so Bria does most of the milking…here’s a post with a picture ;-)

    http://www.generationcedar.com/main/2009/06/the-enterprising-family-a-recipe-for-contentment.html

  11. Word Warrior says:

    Bethany,

    You said:
    “Since when did responsibility become a bad thing? Especially when the responsibility brings such blessings with it?” It’s so very true, as I have written about before.

    I have been noticing more and more families (Christians included) who seem so empty, so lost and lonely and depressed. I wonder how much of it is lost vision from the lack of understanding the joy that simple responsibility brings?

    It seems the more we are self-focused, the less joy it brings; but a house full of busyness, enterprise, serving, etc., leaves little room for emptiness!

  12. HeatherHH says:

    This is just how it is in our household. Our children are almost 8, almost 6, 4, 2, and 6 months. Our children are just thrilled about our baby, especially our almost-6-year-old, our oldest girl. I think it’s largely because of our attitude. We believe our children are a blessing, and we always make it very clear that, however much extra work they might make for a time, that they are inifinitely worth it. We delight in our children, and so they delight in each other.

  13. BettySue says:

    ROLFL. Not only do I also have eight children, long blonde hair, homeschool, Attend a family integrated church, and write books, but my oldest (17) loves to milk our cow and take care of her siblings, too! Are you sure we aren’t the same person?

  14. Word Warrior says:

    BettySue,

    That’s great ;-)

  15. Elizabeth says:

    You’re oldest sounds very much like my oldest dd (16 yo). She and my oldest ds took charge of most of the cooking at the end of my prenancy, and eventually even did the grocery shopping as well. She is proud of what she is able to do and pleased to be able to help. This is also the daughter who burst into tears of happiness when told I was pregnant and now calls her new baby sisters her darlings. It’s a good thng there are two babies or else there would be bickering among the brothers and sisters about whose turn it is to hold the baby.

  16. MamaHen says:

    I had three children in four years, and then had a gap of five years before I had my next child. One of my greatest joys is seeing my older children interact with their little brother. They have loved on him and have always served him. They take delight in him and are excited because we are adopting another baby. It is not always roses around here, but every morning is a new day for them to learn responsiblity and to enjoy their siblings.

  17. Sarah Falk says:

    aaawww…..Your family is so blessed. I don’t have a daughter yet….just a sweet son, but I dream of the day I will have a daughter like this. :) Thank you for sharing!

  18. Kim M says:

    Tears again, Kelly. Bria is such a beautiful example of what a daughter should be. Your family is so lovely; I am so thankful to have the privilege of knowing you all.

    By the way. I know how she feels. My mom was on the pill and still got pregnant with my precious sister when I was eleven. It scares me to think of the fact that she could have never been born. What a sad thought of what I would have missed by not having her in my life.
    I remember the joy I felt to have the privilege of helping bring her up. We are so close today that you would hardly know the age difference. I remember feeling sort of mournful over the fact that she was so much younger that me so I didn’t think that we could “talk” on the same level. But we do that today since we are both adults.
    Thank you again for sharing your life with us!

  19. shannon says:

    your newborn is so precious, congrats kelly!!!!! i was an only child, and always wished that i had brothers and sisters to play with, i probably would have learned better sharing skills earlier in life. now that i’m at the stage of getting ready to have my own children i wish that i had grown up around other children, been able to help care for them and not feel so completely unprepared for what lies ahead… i know that God is with me, and will guide me, but i’m just saying that’s i think it’s an advantage for a woman to have experience with children before she has her own… your children (and you) are surely blessed!

  20. Rebekah says:

    Wonderful post. Love it!!!

  21. Anne says:

    What a BEAUTIFUL photo!! And what a lovely post — brought tears to my eyes.

    Do you think that y’all could be pregnant at the same time?? (I suppose this depends on when she marries… but still!) How exciting!! I’ve never seen a family like that, but I think it would be the most wonderful thing in the world :)

  22. Anne says:

    Oops! Should have posted – “one of the most wonderful things in the world.” Jesus Christ is, obviously, THE most wonderful… although I suppose He’s not a thing? Oh dear, now I’m confused!

  23. Jess in Peru says:

    I LOVE this post. It was so well said. This is what I want to say to people, but it never comes out quite so eloquently. Thank you!

  24. Jess in Peru says:

    You didn’t actually even need to write the post. The picture shows how absolutely miserable she is being the older sibling of 8. How can you do that to her Kelly? (filled with sarcasm)! ;)
    She looks angelically happy!

    And sometimes don’t you wish you had twins to spread all that baby love around with the other 7> One baby can surely NOT be enough in a house with so many little mommies!

    I am already preparing for the fights over who is going to hold him, change him, and help me when our new little one is born! And I’m sure you have the same issues – not because they HAVE to but because they WANT to!

    jess

  25. Word Warrior says:

    Anne,

    Well, I’m close to 37 and if she were to marry and be expecting at say, 20, I’d only be 42 and quite possibly still bearing children ;-) (Have you seen Father of the Bride 2?

  26. Word Warrior says:

    Jess,

    Funny you should mention twins…do you know that girl held out for twins right up until I gave birth? She was so hoping for twins ;-)

  27. Kelly says:

    Well said, Kelly, and so true!

  28. Lynn says:

    My mom had my sister at 47….my sister is going to be 19 and she is my best friend and she is also great with my daughters 15 and 12:)

    I will be 40 this year and I would love to have another child.

    I hate the thought of the looks I would get to have two teenagers and then one on the way?

    How did you get past the stares or comments? I guess I worry more about what people would think….how does you other family members feel about you having a bigger family? I think my husbands mom would fall over:) and not happily over:)

    Blessings,

    Lynn

  29. Word Warrior says:

    Lynn,

    Truthfully, people were harder on us when I was expecting numbers 3 and 4; after that, they know something is weird about you and it’s pointless to tease ;-)

    My family is supportive, though they don’t see the issue 100% as we do; some of hubby’s family doesn’t agree but are pretty quiet about the issue. They all love them when they get here though ;-)

  30. Annette says:

    I am always so encouraged by my oldest daughter’s extra voluntary help and making sure to lighten my load when I am expecting and have a newborn. In her own way she is showing me she loves and cares about me and is thrilled about the new baby. It is such a blessing to me!

    Your daughters are so beautiful! =)

  31. Samantha says:

    My grandmother has a granddaughter older than her two youngest. It happens a fair bit when you have big families, starting off when the mother is “young”. (Now-days, everyone is too “young” or “not ready” to have kids – even when they’re in their 30s.)

  32. Margaret says:

    That is beautiful and so encouraging! I am hopeful that my older boys will see future babies (God willing) in the same light.

  33. Lori says:

    I haven’t read all the comments yet…..but I have to share ( well, really it’s bragging!!!) on my gonna be 14 yr old daughter. Wow! Where do I start? She is the second born, has a brother who is 16. They both ran the house when we had number 7 last year. My daughter was 12 at the time and her brother was 14. They did it all for 3 days straight…with 2 toddlers ages 2 and 3. She is constantly ohhing and ahhing over her littlest brother who just turned 1. She has taken it upon herself to keep up the laundry. She weeds the garden with delight….she loves to ” be in the dirt” or layingin the gravel with older brother under his truck he bought for a dollar and chat while he fixs up the truck .Then she’ll run in the house to squeeze the one yr old and exclaim: ” Hi chub! I just love you….you’re such a sweetie” ect. She has plenty of time to play her flute which she loves, make flower arrangements, play ball with her brothers, weed the garden and flower beds, make cookies and puppy chow, straighten the kitchen, give toddler baths, help potty train them,….and on and on it goes. The joy on her face just spills over any room she enters….and she comforts and loves her siblings.

    People all the time think she and her older brother have it ” so hard”…..having to “watch all those kids”. Her response: ” this is normal….I’m just living life…who wouldn’t want to take care of such a sweet baby/children?”

    She once had an occassion to help her grandpa unload his pick-up at a salvation army store. One of the young men there said to her: ” Here, let me take that…this is a man’s job.”

    hahaha….my girl says, leaning on the truck bed: ” Oh?? Really?! You know what? This is baby work compared to what I do at home!”

    Her grandad got a kick out or her response. She joyfully proclaims several times a day: ” I love to work” as she looks on the fruit of her labor.

    She is a good example of the Proverbs 31 woman and shines with her love of children ( especially babies)

    Talk about young ladies showing the love of Christ in this day and age! Encouraging for sure.

  34. Jacque says:

    This is so beautiful! Having older girls who feel the same way, I know what you mean. I know what a lot of people think – that these “poor girls” are so overburdened, and I have never understood that, because we don’t live that way.

    I enjoyed it so very much. Thank you!
    I also featured it on Training Daughters, Teaching Wives Sensational Links
    http://trainingdaughtersteachingwives.com/?p=668

  35. tami lewis says:

    my oldest dd gets comments like this- and much worse!- all the time. when i say “it’s not the way you think” they claim my religion blinds me!!! aggravating!!

  36. Sara Ann says:

    Even when the work of life and family is tiring and mundane for children, they learn that life is sometimes tiring and mundane. Every momement of every day doesn’t have to be a trip to Disney World for life to be good. Children can learn that there is pleasure in work and time spent with others not just mindless entertainment.

  37. Anna says:

    Thanks for this post!
    I’m the oldest of six, and love it! Being an older sister is one of the most satisfying ‘career’ options I have found (people keep bugging me about that, since it is my Sr. year of high school). Thank you for speaking up for those of us who like changing diapers and getting a glass of water for the little one.

  38. Beth says:

    I loved reading this post! We have a different but similar situation here in our home. My middle daughter is going to be a sophomore in high school this year and it will be her first year to be homeschooled since 2nd grade. She is so excited about that opportunity! Anyway, we have four children left at home and we take care of our 8 month old granddaughter when her mommy works. My daughter Jennie has taken on all responsibilities of this little girl and LOVES it! She has learned so much and is in training to be a wonderful wife and mommy some day! Might I add, I have a 12 year old daughter who is the same way, she has been homeschooled for just one year so far but she has learned and matured in so many ways! She loves to cook and take care of the baby as well. She never complains when I ask her to do something.
    My mother mentioned to me the other day that my sophomore daughter “still needs to be a teenager…” and I am not quite sure how to answer that. I don’t want her to be a typical teenager! She is in training for her LIFE…typical teenagers are running around, flirting with boys, (and worse) out at the mall spending money that they don’t need to spend and dressing in ungodly clothing!!! Thank you so much for all the comments that the ladies have written…you are encouraging me to keep on keeping on! I just wish there were more people around here that are like minded!

  39. Sarah Jones says:

    My eldest daughter, second child, is great with the younger ones and enjoys helping with them. However, she doesn’t like to be on her own with them in public, even at church, as a few times people have thought that our baby is hers. It is quite sad-she is only 13-and I guess a reflection on our society. Is this a problem that anyone else has had?

  40. Word Warrior says:

    Sarah,

    My daughter has the same problem all the time–sometimes even when I am with her, if she’s holding the baby, they ask if its hers. Yes, sad commentary, I guess.

  41. Carissa says:

    I was given the link to this post by a friend who is, like me, the oldest of seven. We are both very happy with our place as the oldest… it is a blessing. Not that it is always easy- but it is always exciting. :)

    As I was reading, I felt like I was reading about myself– I have always been very happy and protective about my siblings. We always were very excited about new babies, and now that we haven’t had one for 4 years, we miss the babies.

    Big families are great… I’m so glad I’m part of one!

  42. Greetings,

    I am the oldest of seven, and although I have failed very very badly in being the good example that I should be, I love being the oldest, even with the responsibilities.

    Children are indeed a wonderful blessing, and I pray that more people of my generation will see and embrace that. I desire God’s blessings in my family as well (well, my future family, hopefully), amounting to at least 10!

    What I see as tragic is that responsibility has come to be so much of a bad thing that people will do anything, even murder (that is what abortion is, as a matter of fact), to avoid it. That is why I am proud to be a Rebelutionary.

    http://www.therebelution.com

    With joy and peace in Christ,
    Sir Emeth Mimetes

  43. April Bauer says:

    Hi Kelly.
    I have 4, so far. My oldest girl is the second child & there is only 20 months between her & her younger sister. I’ll forget the day #3 was born. Hannan looked at her with happy all over her face & that day I saw the mama she would be. Once the baby got home Hannah would run to her & say, “Mama’s here.” When #4 was born 2 yrs ago & thought Hannah would die with joy. She still calls that little boy her, “little love” or “my baby”. It’s so wonderful to watch. My oldest, a boy, isn’t much different. He loves all three of the younger ones, delights in being their leader/teacher, helping them & doing lots of things for me. He tells me often that we need more children & then all three of the “big ones” pray for more. They know God answers prayer because they prayed for & got #4. It’s so sad that so many people out there miss out on the beauty of large God fearing families & see it all as a burden. We too have family members who think we should stop having children, but we aren’t in control of my womb & why would I want to deny myself that blessing? Thanks for letting me share.

  44. Theresa says:

    Congratulations on your new little one!

    Thank you so much for posting this. We get this too and it is hard to filter comments and not second guess ourselves with “Is she going to be ok with this once she is older?” etc.

    I intend on sharing your post with my oldest (of seven and only 12, but such a huge blessing to our family).

    Blessings to you and yours,
    Theresa

  45. Coffee Catholic says:

    8 kids! You are so blessed! We have one (ten month old daughter) with twins on the way but pregnancy totally cripples me and trashes me. My husband is having to take up so much slack and we don’t have any family that can help, not even a baby sitter. And obviously no older kids yet. I keep wondering… will we be able to have more babies?? I wouldn’t mind at least 12 :-)

  46. Joy Parker says:

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  47. Word Warrior says:

    Joy,

    I have dropped the price from $14.97 to $12.97 plus $2 shipping.

    If you want to email me your address and size you want I’ll ship one to you!

    I have sm, med, and large left, but am out of XL.

    You can use the contact form on the site to contact me!

  48. Lori Jackson says:

    I really needed this encouragement today. As a mom of 5 little ones (4 of them girls) I need to hear from someone that they WILL love this life too. Thank you SO much for the time you pour into this. I appreciate it!

  49. Michelle says:

    Oh, wow….did I ever enjoy this post! I am the mother of 7 kids. My oldest 2 are boys so I don’t think they get the pitiful looks and question, “Do you have to take care of the younger ones much?” quite as much, but trust me, they are still not immune to it.

    I’m always amazed at how people perceive my children. Many people have decided it’s nothing short of child abuse to actually have to look outside their own self and care for others. If they only knew the benefits of it… I think they’d all have more than the 2.3 children:)

  50. Larissa says:

    Thank you for writing this article. It seems that most people (and even some Christians) don’t value children as the blessings that they are. As the oldest of six, I can completely relate to your daughter. I too can’t wait to start my own family :)

  51. Vickie says:

    Thanks so much for sharing. We have 9 (I only have 6 left at home)kids and I feel exactly like you do. I just can’t believe people’s reaction to our response of 9 kids (or count us while walking down the aisle at the store) let alone us mention we’d like more. We have grandkids too and our youngest has 2 neices and 2 nephews older than her. In fact, when we got our youngest (she’s adopted), all 3 of my older kids had baby girls the same summer. So newborns together and now we all have 6 year olds and it is great! I watch 4 of the grandkids and right now, the 14 yo dd is reading to one 6 yo. The 13 yo dd is playing Go-Fish with the 5 yo. The 13 yo ds is playing with the 8 yo and 3 yo. The 15 yo dd is cleaning the kitchen. I don’t force them to do these things. They are doing it because they love the kids and each other. They play and interact very well amongst each other and with adults. The elderly just love them because they are able to show respect due them. We homeschool too which I know helps with the multi-age interactions. My kids are also asking when we are having/getting more kids (we have bio and adopted kids). My girls are already planning for large families. The 15 yo dd wants 13 kids :) AND eeegads….wants to be a SAHM and wife!!!! LOL It is refreshing to read others with like minded values as all these ladies have shared. Thanks for posting this blog. You are amazing! God’s Blessings continue to reign upon you.

  52. marie says:

    Hello :)

    I really enjoyed this post and I am so happy for you, what a joy and blessing indeed to witness such sweetness and genuine love between siblings. I have a question, which I realize will sound ridiculous, but I will ask it anyway, as I feel I really need help with this…
    I was saddened to read one of the other commenters tell about two boys from large families who clearly stated that THEY would never want many children. I am saddened because this is my current situation with my oldest daugther :(
    she is only 9yo still, so I am hoping and praying (and trying to work for) that time will change how she feels about this, but it makes me incredibly sad, because to me this is evidence, that I have completely failed at my task as a parent. She also says that when she grows up, her children will go to school (we homeschool…) and she will have a job…(I am a sahm).
    I realize, that I have failed miserably in helping her create bonds with her first little brother – too long to explain here, but I know I should have let her participate much more and I should have asked for her help and encouraged her interest much much more. I am trying not to make the same mistake with her little sister (our 3d child). So, my daughter, 9yp is the oldest of three. For obscure reasons five years went by before we had her little brother, and I have regretted this gap SO many times and continually struggle with this, as much of our problems have sprung from this (very difficult to find common activities for them to do etc). Only recently have they begun to be able to play a little together. Also they have very different personalities and our son is a “challenging” child (hyper sensitive among others, and therefore often requiring much attention and assistance). I know that she has probably suffered some from that, as we have had a tendency to rely so much on her independence because she is so much older. I’m rambling, sorry. To make a long story short – I have only recently, within the last year or so, begun to REALLY understand what it means that children are a blessing and to see how in being a mother to them, God allows me to grow and become a better person as I work on my imperfections and faulty sides. I guess I just fail miserably in conveying to my children just how much I love them, just what a blessing they are (both individually to me but also together as siblings to eachother) and I fail in my task to create a peaceful home and family filled with joy and love. So my question is; how EXACTLY do you convey and emphazise to your children that they are a blessing? How can I encourage sibling love? How do I draw my daugthers heart towards home, towards the joys of homemaking, being a mother and a wife? I sadly feel like I always end up with a nagging tone of voice and attitude….I wasn’t brought up in a home where I felt loved, so I guess i’m just no good at conveying it either, it’s no excuse but perhaps a part of explanation,. But really; my greatest fear is that my children later on won’t prefer home, won’t like and want to be home/with siblings and parents and also that THEY wont grow up to understand that a large family is a blessing and something to wish for. I understand that i cannot choose for them and be *sure* that they will do the same, but I am just so immensely heartbroken at the idea that I am responsible for skewing my daugthers view of marriage/family life already instead of having been able to transmit to her a joy and love of family and siblings…please if anyone has advice I’m all ears!!! Sorry to be so long.

  53. Jiggy says:

    I think big families are great, and I think a strong family is a fundamental social unit. At the same time, I am cautious of what appears to be an overawareness of gender in girls. I think it’s particularly dangerous for girls to date too young, for a variety of reasons (and which you’ll probably agree with). However, I also think it’s dangerous for a girl to identify too strongly with her gender long before she should. 15-year-olds shouldn’t be longing to be pregnant, in my opinion. After all, the Apostle Paul told us that it was better to marry than to burn–which doesn’t rank marriage as our highest calling in life. Any sort of preoccupation with childbirth long before the fact seems a bit unhealthy.

  54. Lola says:

    I was the oldest of 5 and had to raise my brother and sisters on my own AND work AND go through highschool. My parents were not responsible and left everything to me. I HATED giving up 20 years of my life for that. Now I never want to have kids, because I’ve already spent a big chunk of my life on it. I love my siblings, but I would have rather had a childhood.

  55. Sara says:

    I’m the oldest of 8. While I adore my younger siblings and wouldn’t trade any of them for the world, I can also tell you that out of the oldest three, who are all married, none of us desire a large family. I am expecting my first and last child this spring; another sister is expecting her second and last. We love our little sisters, and were never primarily responsible for caring for them, but we’ve done our baby duty. We both work outside the home and none of the three adult and married children plan to homeschool. We’ve seen that life, and while our family was happy and stable, it is not what we have chosen.
    Truthfully, in talking to the many now-adult children of large, homeschooling families, this is common. I think we saw the burdens placed on our parents, financially and otherwise, and do not want that for our lives. We have also seen that many, many of our adult friends who had parents that both worked outside the home and were public and private schooled have just as happy, fulfilling, and stable adult lives as we do.
    I do not think homeschooling and large families are on the “way out,” but I do think that many parents assumed this was the road their children would want to take, and now we are adults, are discovering that we want to choose something different for our lives.

  56. Liz says:

    Your oldest daughter’s “delight” with her personal situation (as opposed to delight in the wonder that a newborn truly is) may be considered actual delight if she still feels that same way by the time she is forty years old. I imagine that is the case with some coming out of that situation, but I have yet to meet one of them.

  57. Trisha says:

    What a wonderful post! Thank you for boldy speaking truths that are despised even among our brothers and sisters Christ. How sad it is to read the comments of those blessed to be part of a large family and yet who lack vision of the same. The cynicism is astounding. I’m sure your daughter will still delight in her children at forty, and may God continue to bless you and your family as you speak the truth in love. It truly breaks my heart to read these comments that speak of motherhood and children as burdens.
    ~a 40 year old Mommy expecting number 8, rejoicing in the amazing blessing of another child and delighted to know that her children are rejoicing also

  58. Word Warrior says:

    Trisha,

    Thank you–what encouraging words! I felt the same…to read “I think we saw the burdens placed on our parents, financially and otherwise”…is very telling of our self-centered culture. We forget the heart of the gospel, don’t we? “If any man would save his life he must lose it”. That’s a different perspective, isn’t it?

    I also thought while reading…my daughter will likely have children far before 40, so I don’t think it’s a matter of “what will she think at 40″…she longs to get married already, and greatly anticipates her life as a wife and mommy. Praise God. I also know many, many grown children who carried their love of family and children with them and are now living, with no regrets, embracing the blessing of God’s sovereignty over the womb.

    Thank you!

  59. This is SOOOO true of the older children in our family (17, 10, and even the other 5 “older” ones)! They are ECSTATIC when they hear another one is “on the way” (whether through birth or adoption). It all depends on how the older ones view children…as either a blessing or a curse! Fortunately, they view children as their father and I do….a BLESSING from the Lord!

    Great post!
    Lisa

  60. Christie says:

    Just wanted to let you know this is the post that first brought me to your website, and it is still my favorite! I keep mentioning it to others – still! :)

  61. Word Warrior says:

    Christie–that is so good to know…thanks for telling me!

  62. MJ says:

    Just wanted to say that even in small families (we wanted more but have two), the oldest is *still* more called upon to do tasks and help with the younger. It’s normal and just fine. Don’t let anyone persuade you otherwise. My son is the elder by 18 mos. and was called upon by me *much* more than his sister, all of his life, and he turned out no worse for the wear. :0) I’ve found that the families where the olders get an attitude are the families where it was not taught to be a joy and a privilege, either by the words and (in)actions of the parents, or by overexposure to the world’s ways.

  63. Jane says:

    Ha! That sounds like me!
    I’m 15, the oldest of seven at the moment, and the only girl. I read so much it’s insane, write my own books, am a photographer, play the piano…it’s crazy!
    I know how she feels: I get the “do you help take care of all these kids” all the time.
    Keep up the good work!

  64. Christie P says:

    This is me, back again, rereading this post after recommending it to someone else. :) And thinking fondly of my eldest who at 5 and a half, dutifully pushed her youngest brother in a stroller all around Walmart for about 2-3 hours while I pushed the buggy with DD#2. And then, after arriving home at 9:30 pm, I was detained in the powder room, and emerged to find her underneath the kitchen table, lying on the floor, asleep with her head on my purse! She was SUCH a trooper! I’m so proud of her, and will be sure to give her extra cuddle time tomorrow morning (she’s such a cuddle bug!)

  65. ppompeiiable says:

    I am astonished at some of the adults here that were from large families and they adored their lives. I was always bringing up a child that was not mine. I was an child myself. Parents should not be parents if they can not bring their children up themselves. Dont cover up for them. Tell the truth. You were a neglected child.

  66. Hello. I was recently hurt by close family who no longer wish to share their home with us because of our large family. We have five children, who are all currently five or younger. They are very well behaved. And although this my seem boastful, I am almost sure that it would be hard to tell a difference in the noise that they make compared to the two grandchildren of their own. My husband lost his mother when he was 12. His Aunt is the closest he has. I am honestly so tired, and fed up with the prejudice of Christian men and women in this country. Their eyes are blinded. I apologize for letting it go here, and not somewhere else. But if I may, as a shared prayer to our Father in heaven, may He please bless me with a deep love, and forgiveness. He loves us all no matter how many children we have:-)

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