Leaving a Legacy of Loving Children

She had ten kids too. So we were exchanging fun, big family facts during our hotel breakfast yesterday, as we trek our way to CO.

Then she looked at my oldest and asked if she wanted to have kids, and proceeded to say that hers did not, not for a long time anyway, and certainly not many.

Weird? Sad? Both?

Naturally, I’ve been thinking about that. “We saw what you went through” is what she told me they said. They observed that motherhood, for their mother, was (I’m guessing now) hard? Challenging? A lot of work?

I don’t know her life, so it’s hard to say what, specifically, gave her children a disdain for the only job on the planet that begins with a miracle—the supernatural creation of a new person from two people—allows you to love, nurture, teach, shape and invest in that person—a part of you—for a few short years, and then watch your efforts live on through the generations, literally shaping the world ahead of you.

What kind of effort is so difficult to make that opportunity not worth it?

Isn’t any worthwhile endeavor difficult? And of all the worthwhile endeavors, isn’t the bearing and raising of children near the top since it is the perpetual life-blood of civilization, on which the entirety of our future hangs?

Why aren’t our children growing up excited about a job so crucial to our world’s well-being? And why aren’t we greatly concerned that they’re not?

These are the questions that should cause us to stop, listen and think about the legacy we are leaving.

If our children grow up willing to stress, labor and persevere for the pursuit of wealth but turn a nose up at investing in the lives of their flesh and blood—that which has the most impact now and eternally—we have done something terribly wrong.

 

51 Responses to “Leaving a Legacy of Loving Children”

  1. Laura says:

    Those are tough thoughts… It can be easy to adopt a victim mentality, as though our convictions by God, while we feel the pressure to live them, we do so in such a way that indicates we feel that we had no choice, and it wouldn’t have been our first choice if we had, and perhaps would have been much happier apart from those convictions… Also, it can be hard to go so hard against the flow of the culture… In a large family, there is a LOT of work to do every day…And the kids from a large family are often made to share in the work, while they see other kids their age spending a lot of time doing what they WANT to do…with very little responsibility to the family. Also, in a larger family, finances are also tighter and more limiting, which can also be discouraging, in that it’s hard to learn piano if you can’t afford lessons… And for large family kids to see other families with 2 kids doing all kinds of things that we can’t (like trips to amusment parks, buying all sorts of expensive technology, or the freedom to join things like cheerleading or sports)can make them bitter against their parents for having made such choices. I have four kids (and a 5th on the way!), I came from a family of 2 kids. I spent HOURS practising music, drawing/painting, with friends, extra curricular stuff like theater practise… ANd while my mom taught me HOW to cook, clean, sew, shop etc. The responsibility of these thing wasn’t exactly sacrificial in such a small family(and helping was no more than an hour or two, here and there)… Now, however, with my own family, it takes nearly all my time to keep up with just the basics of these things, with their help!! If we aren’t careful, we can, by our attitudes, pass along to our kids that they were too much work, that they stole our joy, that we were victims, and that we hated having 10 (or whatever)kids…even while we SAY the opposite… Also, it can also expose the fact that perhaps we have gotten so absorbed in making our kids tow the outward line of obedience, (so that things like laundry and dishes don’t fall too far behind) that we fail to connect with them individually and gently help them along their own spiritual journeys…And we are so worried about making sure that beds are made, clothes picked up, etc and as long as they obey in those things, we ignore the fact that they might be seething with discontent, bitterness, resentment etc under the surface…And are ready to break away from this large family thing as soon as possible…

  2. Laura says:

    Another thought too, in our culture is that if you have just a couple kids you can raise them for a few years and then take back your life when they are older and get back to doing what you really want to do. When you have a really big family, it may take you all the way to the point of eternity to “raise” them… and you may never get to “do what you want”… And in our culture, self-fulfillment is at such an all time high, based on the ability to do JUST what we WANT to do, and for sacrifices to be as short and only as necessary as possible… hence, 2 kids is a little sacrifice and manageable and therefore fits more into self-fulfilllment than 4 or 6 or 10 kids… who will steal your freedom and limit your fulfillment… It’s amazing to see how many of these thoughts/attitudes can seep into our thinking, into my own thinking…my own reacting, my own parenting… Which is why parenting is so connected to God’s help… It’s outside our ability…

  3. (another) Laura says:

    This mother understands that her daughter is a separate person, with her own life to lead. It would be wrong for that woman to want her daughter to be a carbon copy of her life. Not every woman wants a big family- even if they love kids. it could have nothing to with what her parents did or didn’t do- she is simply a different person.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Laura,

      The point of my post had nothing at all to do with being a “carbon copy” or about having a large family. It’s about how we value life. Having children is a natural part of the union of marriage. It’s not like making a career choice. We’ve become confused about that because children *are* so preventable now, and our view of their worth, consequently has become sorely skewed.

      • (another) Laura says:

        And my point is she still may value life- even if she never has a big family or wants one. Not wanting many kids and valuing life can be collectively exclusive.

      • (another) Laura says:

        And my point is she still may value life- even if she never has a big family or wants one. Not wanting many kids and valuing life occur at the same time

        • D says:

          Laura, for me the sad part is “we saw what you went through.” I am not one to judge, but it does say something about this lady’s motherhood. Perhaps she was perpetually stressed, tired, cranky, or complaining. I can only speculate.

          A good, happy, content wife and mother naturally passes on the joy of motherhood to her daughters. They are women – they are designed for childbearing. For a young woman to say she does not want ANY children is strange…and frankly very new in human history. Being her own person doesn’t quite count in this argument, because her reason for not wanting children is not even based on her individual preferences, but on what she saw in her mother. Red flag.

  4. beth says:

    Coming from a large family myself, I have to comment here on this subject. My parents were very wonderful parents=they never made us feel like a burden, but as a child and especially as an adolescent you feel the financial pressure your parents are under, that cannot be helped. My dad worked two jobs at times but we hardly ever had the things that we needed. I’m talking about needs like reliable transportation, a warm house, or clothes -not things you would just like to have but need. I only saw my mother upset one time that she couldn’t have something and that was when all the married couples at our church were renewing their vows and she wanted a dress but there was no way she could get one and she cried about it. Another thing is the work involved-there is so much to do! We spent our summers working in the garden, I mean all summer long. When you have a large family there is a lot of food to be grown. I we weren’t hoeing or picking then we were shelling and putting it in the freezer or canning it. Other kids were doing fun things and it was hard to see that as a child.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Beth,

      Thank you for your comment. I wanted to point out, though, that financial hardship is something many families endure, regardless of family size. And working is a good, healthy part of life–even working hard. The generation of parents who have “saved” their children from working hard have done them a grave disservice, negatively affecting all of us.

  5. Missy says:

    I like what you said. It is definitely something worth thinking about! I know too many people who don’t want to have children, or at the very least, don’t want very many children. As for us, we have been blessed with 3 amazing children and would have loved to have more. Unfortunately, that wasn’t in God’s plan for us as I had an emergency hysterectomy after my last baby. I have shed many tears about that and struggled for awhile with being angry at people who seemed to take their ability to have children for granted. I’ve realized that instead of being angry, I need to do my best to show the world (or at least the people in my life) how awesome motherhood is. It truly is the BEST job in the world! I hope your post will help more people realize that :) Thank you for sharing this!

  6. Debi says:

    I was the last of 6 kids and I grew always believing that I would mother a large family. When I married and we did not begin having children immediately, I was alarmed. I went into a tailspin. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be if not a mother.
    Several years later, after the death of my first husband (suicide) and I found a wonderful man and was ready to remarry, I told him that I could not have children. His response was warm acceptance of that and he told me that he did not particularly relate well to children so that was ok. Within 2 years, I turned 40 and then discovered I was pregnant. My new and sweet husband took the news a little hard….had to sit, quickly!!
    Bear in mind that we were neither one, young, by any means. He was 11 years older than me. We have a healthy, happy son now who is 8 and I invest in him every ounce of energy and love and care that I can muster. It is a glorious job, parenting, and I would take a dozen more if given the opportunity, and have even asked if we might adopt. Here is where I have learned a lesson in submission and grace.
    My husband loves our son very much and is a good father. He would welcome another child if The Lord saw fit to give us one but his heart is not inclined toward a house full of children. We foster children and have done so for years and for some time I wondered why he could care for other children and yet not want scores of them.
    The truth is, I don’t understand it, but I love him and I respect his feelings in this. If I were to try and force it, he would be unhappy and so would I and I don’t believe that would please God.
    So I pray for His will and wait with hands wide open for whatever comes our way and I am grateful, so grateful that He gave me this sweet gift of motherhood!!

  7. Kristen says:

    How old was her oldest? Sometimes kids say stuff they don’t mean. Sometimes kids’ perspectives are skewed. They’re kids after all. They see the world and all it has to offer and want it. And don’t realize the deception in that way of thinking. Don’t the Amish people even have a period of time for their young people to decide if their parents’ way of life is really for them? I think there’s a real tension between our lifestyle choices, as Biblical as they may be, and who our children decide to be and the choices they make and how long it takes for God’s plan to unfold in their lives.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Keri,

      They were grown–in their twenties. I think when we live in awe of life, in awe of God’s blessing of children, it’s not a matter of our children “deciding who to be.” Children aren’t in the same category as career choices or styles of houses. Life, in my opinion, is not a choice to make, but as natural a part of living as eating and breathing. Because the ability to prevent what God would otherwise give us, the once-natural fruit of a marriage has turned into a “choice.” And if we are raising children to disdain such an important part of life, we are hurting ourselves as a culture.

  8. Amy says:

    We are not all called to be hands or feet, etc.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Amy,

      I’m actually not sure what you mean by this. Once upon a time, people understood that God gave life. Children were a natural result of marriage. Now there seems to be offense at the suggestion that children should be a welcomed part of it. When you really take the time to ponder how our thinking has changed, it’s remarkable. And terribly sad.

      • Amy says:

        Yes, I agree. Every life is created by God and is precious & valuable. I simply meant perhaps the young lady you mentioned in your post will serve God in another way other than being a mother. We are not all called to do and be the same thing.

        • Word Warrior says:

          This kind of thought just hurts my heart. Because it reveals that we humans have made motherhood optional and I truly don’t think God ever intended it to be. We act like we can treat children like making a decision about a job or where to live. Those things require a deliberate action. Having babies doesn’t. We can’t choose to have babies. Babies are built in to our physical make up and come by miraculous, super-natural, “thought of before the foundation of the world” kind of way. They are God’s heritage to us and I think it’s pretentious at best to say, “maybe I’m not called to be a mother.” If you are married and God gives you babies, you are called. That doesn’t mean you can’t minister in many other ways, but motherhood is something God gives us not something we decide.

          • Amy says:

            I guess we have some differences in interpretation. You must live up to what God has revealed to you, as I must do the same. I think how your family operates is simply beautiful. I’m glad you have found God’s purpose.

            • Word Warrior says:

              Thank you, Amy. I think we all must be sensitive to what God reveals to us. But for the sake of theological accuracy (and for others reading these comments), as it regards children, God reveals that to us by His choice to give them or withhold them, not by our choice.

              He opens and closes the womb, the Bible says. So for someone to say “I am not called to have children” or vice versa, is inaccurate, according to the supernatural way God gives children.

              I’m not saying a couple is bound to never space children, but the question of “to have or not to have” lies in His giving or not. He never intended that we would have such control over the gift of life that children became like a commodity.

              • Laura says:

                There is also the danger in our “truth isn’t for me what it is for you” society, the mindset that God’s truths are not universal for all, but you can pick which ones you like and that “fit” you and discard others if they are too “hard”… I think I know what you mean, Kelly, in that at the very beginning God created them male and female and gave each the ability to reproduce after its own kind… and for any living thing, be it animal or plant or human, reproducing after its own kind is what God’s creatures do by default, following the natural inclinations we were given by God (obviously kept within marriage). What isn’t commonly known is that the desire to limit childbearing, or provide an “out” from childbearing, stems from a dangerous, unbiblical perspective promoted by feminism… rooted in rebellion, where God’s design is put on its head… Unfortunately, all women everywhere, are naturally rebellious, and in our sinful, selfish way, would all choose to be “free” of the difficulty of bearing and raising children… and so our natural inclinations, unchanged by the Holy Spirit are going to resonate with this unbiblical idea… but if we want to follow God, if we are made new through the Holy Spirit, our desires begin to change…And we begin to be able to accept and even find joy in things that our natural selves do not…

              • Amy says:

                Will you please direct me to the scriptures, so that I may study them? Thank you.

              • Amy says:

                I accidently posted my last comment under Laura’s below.

  9. Amy L. says:

    What a convicting post for me. Thank you Kelly. I appreciate Laura’s comments up at the top. We have 8 children and it has been hard, particularly financially. But, besides that part of raising a large family, I have all too often fallen into the “oh dear me, whatever shall I do” about this or that pertaining to the work of raising a large family and disciplining 6 boys in particular. May the Lord forgive me for having a spirit of fear and fainting under pressure and may he help me from this moment on to always believe my life is good and show it to my children. Lord, give me more joy :)

    • Word Warrior says:

      Amy,

      Amen! I think (for me at least) it’s a constant act of renewing our minds, remembering that the Christian life itself has many trials, but even though it can be hard, it is a gift to be involved in the raising of people.

  10. Lori Neiswander says:

    In the midst of the hard work of raising 8 children, we have sooo many moments of pure fun that are the envy of friends and neighbors alike as they watch the kids hoot and holler during a badminton game. Yes, the finances are always tight, the pots in the kitchen are huge, Mount laundry grows daily. But, have we considered. God has blessed us. We have never been in want. Our huge pots have food enough to feed a small army. We are healthy. We are happier than most. We all love and serve the Lord by being available to others and spreading His Hope. My 20 yr old and 18 yr old would rather spend an evening at home with siblings than with friends. All the kids oooh and aahhh over small babies. Is it hard? Yes. Worth it? Only eternity will tell the true story! We will see how worth it it all has been!

    Kelly, you are right. The thinking of past generations about families, people, needs vs. wants was opposite to the worldly thinking of today. We have become so accustomed to backwards thinking that we can’t even feel the appropriate emotion. Sadness.

  11. Amber says:

    I see the same thing in many small families, too. Someones parents have 4 children and they in turn have 2, and their children may have 1 a piece. People just don’t want to work hard, they don’t want to sacrifice, they don’t want to see the blessing in “dying daily”. It seems like many of our grandparents generation saw the importance in working hard, but that was the primary focus, there was no joy. Then their children and grandchildren saw the burden of working hard, saw the lack of joy and now we have a generation of lazy and joyless people… it’s truly sad.
    I struggle with my attitude, but it means so much to me to leave a beautiful, spiritual lasting impression on my children despite that. Sometimes I wish sanctification would be a faster process :) .
    If it’s appropriate, where in CO are you headed?

    • Word Warrior says:

      Amber,

      I’m with you on the sanctification part. But we can take joy in the fact that God delights in walking slowly with us, He the patient Father, showing us how we are to patiently walk with our children and they learn and stretch and grow slowly.

      We are in Pagosa Springs visiting my brother and his family ;-)

      • Amber says:

        Enjoy the scenery and your family! I hear Pagosa Springs is beautiful. We are living in a cabin on the side of the Sangre De Cristo Mtns by Westcliffe here in CO. I don’t have any complaints :) !

  12. I really don’t know what happens to people.

    I am the oldest of 4. We didn’t grow up in a Christian home, but I had a stay at home mom that although went to college and became a lawyer, her first career was to be our Mom. She was available at all times. She was always home when we arrived from school. She was the one who cooked, laundered, cleaned and drove us around. Her mom, my Grandmother, was another fantastic homemaker, mother and wife.

    Although my Mom encouraged me to have a career, my desire was always to get married and have children. I wanted to be a stay at home mom like her. From a young age I would always say I was going to have 10 children. Although my dad and Grandfather were good husbands, they were constantly putting down their partners’ roles with demeaning complaints and jokes. Still I wanted to get married and have kids.

    Fast forward a few decades, I am now married (got married at 29 y.o.) and have 4 kids. My sister has only 1 child. My 2 brothers have one each and are considering one more and that’s it. They have been waiting a long while to try for the second one. That child might not come at all. They might change their minds.

    They think I am crazy because I have 4 kids, would love to have more, homeschool them and enjoy being home. We are ALL Christians now, but their way of thinking does not allow for many children because they are too expensive (one of them told me once).

    So what happened? How come out of 4 children only one is willing to bring more babies into the world? We were all brought up in the same household, under the same influence. Actually as the oldest I saw negative behavior that my youngest siblings didn’t, but that didn’t deter my resolve. These are the mysteries and purposes of life that only God can explain.

    But I get your post… I too get concerned that I am not showing my children how valuable they are and that they are worthy the sacrifices. I can only rest in God and do my best. I pray my children marry Godly partners and want to have as many children as God gives them, but it’s really up to God. no?

    Recently the Lord has been reminding me of that verse that says that Jesus endured the suffering for the joy that was to come. Like Him, I need to share in His sufferings and know that it’s not in vain.

  13. shannon says:

    I have no idea about this family but can see where being amongst the world AT ALL this day in age could have an impact on the number of children she may want to have. Seeing other families with fewer children having what seems to have more money, going to public high school or even Christian school where college is pushed (especially if she is considered smart), watching t.v., etc… Even if raised to believe children are indeed a blessing, we are all capable of being deceived, like Eve.

    I hope she realizes her mistake before she has too many regrets.

  14. MelissaJoy says:

    I only have a quick minute to leave a short reply. So, in addition to the comments above (on motherhood)…

    Take every opportunity to look your children in the eyes and smile. I also tell them “I am so happy to have you. Even when your naughty, I am thrilled you are my child. I wouldn’t have it any other way”

    Smile, smile, smile. Apologize when we *are* wrong, and I believe children will generally grow to respect and appreciate the work and the sacrifices of being people.

  15. Beautiful post and so true. I only have 2 children so I can’t speak on the large family part of this but I can say that I hope my children are learning to value people and family and I pray that the women my boys one day marry will also hold family in high regard and will desire to have children. I don’t think it matters if you are from a large family or small either. :)

  16. Karen says:

    I have 2 teen girls and several teen nieces also lots of their friends , and 90% act as if the idea of children is the last thing they would ever want, no matter what I have said, the secular world seems to be winning for the time be