You Have Too Many Children to Give Them What They Need

Somewhere along the line, we created an imaginary set of rules about what kids need  for healthy development and if you’ll listen closely, you’ll hear it: “To love my children is to buy them things.” Suffice it to say, if love equals providing material comforts,  American children are the most well-loved children in the world. Ironically, they also suffer the most from narcissism, ingratitude, and a grandiose sense of entitlement.

Those are the children we created attempting to “give them what they need.”  We said, essentially, though no parent would admit it, “Let me make you the center of the universe. Let my love translate into money, my affection into recreation, and let me, above all else, make sure you have everything and every experience you want so you’ll know how much I care about you.”

The disaster is that children want things, but it’s not what they need, and many parents aren’t smart enough to know the difference.

I’ve been asked, outright, how I could possibly give each child “what they need” since I have far more children than the average family. But the question I ask is, “What do you mean by ‘what they need?’ ” At first I assume they’re asking how I have enough time to spend with all my children, to know them and assess their individual needs.

But usually the people who ask me such questions have two parents working outside the home and their children are in school. With homework and school functions considered, that means parents and children are spending an average of (studies indicate) 36 minutes during a weekday together, and 7 out of 10 admit that time is mostly spent watching t.v.

Can this parent really be asking me if I have enough energy and time to go around for my 10 children? At this point, I realize their experience grossly skews their perception. I have far more children, true. But we are not scattered a whole bunch during the day. We don’t spend a lot of time watching t.v. We eat every meal together every day. I talk to each of my children, individually, every day. We work together, cook together, think and talk together. We’ve chosen this life, to the exclusion of other things. Ask me about those. But not about how my children don’t get enough of me.

They do not need more things. More things do not better children make.”

Or is the question really not so concerned with time and love? It does, after all, discredit the benefit of sibling love and attention and a shared responsibility of household duties which lightens everyone’s load and affords us more time. Is the question veiled in concern that my children won’t all get cars at 16? Or that we won’t be paying for their college?

Here’s what children need, whether you have 1 or 20. They need you to slow down. They need your time, your face, your voice, your hugs, your explanations about life. They need to know you are willing to sacrifice even some material comforts in order to be with them as much as you can. They need you to walk with them, laugh with them, play games with them and read to them. More than anything, they need you to disciple them by giving them practical wisdom as they encounter choices all throughout the day. They need a family knit together by simplicity and time.

They do not need more things. More things do not better children make. More vacations do not make them better children. More entertainment, more gadgets, more clothes or more toys do not bolster their success in life.

The god of consumerism hates children because “too many children” curb our spending. Should we be surprised that God’s ideas are at enmity with the world’s? He told us it would be so.

I grieve for a generation of parents whose intentions have been tragically misinformed. I grieve for a generation of children who are being sold a bill of goods that is destroying them and us.

As I see it, having “too many children” has provided a good and necessary protection in our lives from things to which we would naturally gravitate. In my life, having too many children is what allows me to give them exactly what they need.

Maybe we’re asking the wrong questions.

“One of the great things about living the simple life Kelly talks about here is that you can take the kids to the park, make banana splits at home, watch the caterpillar you caught last week emerge from its chrysalis a beautiful butterfly, and your children think they have a charmed life, rather than being bored with everything.” -Cindy Dyer, Get Along Home

34 Responses to “You Have Too Many Children to Give Them What They Need”

  1. 6 arrows says:

    I have been duly chastened.

  2. I think your post has nailed it.I m on full agreement with you on this “They do not need more things. More things do not better children make.”.

    I think each family is entitled to their own number of children within god’s will.Not every mom can handle many kids.I m a control and planning freak.I might not thrive well with everyday on financial strain as I came from such a home myself.

    The most important thing is as long as the parents are rooted in Christ,they will do well in their parenting responsibility,as all things are possible with christ.It doesnt matter if you have 1 child or 10 children,god will give us strength to do our duty.

    http://www.godlyindianmom.com/

    https://www.facebook.com/godlyindianmom

  3. Alexandra says:

    I appreciate this article. Recently when someone found out we were pregnant with my 4th, someone said to my mom, “but children need love.” My oldest is only four and I plan on homeschooling, so this article was a good reminder that when you are home with your children they really do have more time with you than the average family does, even if there are multiple children.

  4. RaShell S says:

    Well said Kelly! Thank you. I love the reality check. I just recently had this conversation with the woman who was doing my sonogram for our 6th child. It wasn’t really directed at me. I think you pointed out some things that I could have asked her. I made some assumptions about what she meant and your question “what do you mean by ‘what they need’” would have clarified the issue. I am keeping that in mind for next time. :)

  5. Klayton says:

    We have four living boys, one boy passed away in the womb, and now are expecting our girl in september. We have been married for 8 years and went through a 4 month deployment and a 7 month deployment. After our third I almost got a visectimy but decided read what the bible said about having children…from there we looked into what the bible said about everything. No tv, no smartphones, no new vehicles, no internet, no disney world. Who needs all that when you can home church and homeschool anyways? =D

  6. estera says:

    You nailed it! Kelly I LOVE reading your blog posts! I have been reading your blog for a couple of years, and I have to say that what keeps me here is your boldness to speak on subjects that a lot of people are afraid to muster….God bless you and your beautiful family!

  7. Hayley Ferguson says:

    I loved this encouraging post. I struggle with having it all together in my home consistently. You would think that with 11 I would have it all together; but I don’t. I recently received a lovely card from an old friend who used to belittle my parenting because in her eyes my children were unruly. She said they were unruly but very loved and they knew that. She also said God knew me when He gave me the children He has and that was His plan. I was very encouraged as often I feel like I’m failing them. So thank you for such an encouraging post. I have both sides of our family “keeping an eye on me/us” to make sure our children are doing ok. I hate it. I think the devil may be attacking me in this area because I lack confidence. I just would love my children to love the Lord Jesus and live for Him and be kind and loving to everyone (even if they don’t feel like it.) So I think that’s what the Lord is trying to teach me about loving my enemies; so I’m a better example to my children.
    I really desire to live a minimalist lifestyle and model gratitude for what we have. Corinthians says it “the greatest of these is love.” Love isn’t stuff; you’re right. I had the material lifestyle growing up (my dad is a millionaire) and I was miserable because of my mistreatment at a private “Christian” school. I wanted to commit suicide at the age of 8 because of the bullying. I have a 5yo, 4yo, 3yo, 2yo and a 1yo and I am happiest when they are all jumping into my lap and hugging and kissing me telling me they love me and when I get some alone time with my husband ;-D . None of this costs a cent. Anyway I’m rambling now. I loved this post; well done Kelly. Christian love and blessings to you. xx

    • Thank you, Hayley. It’s so sad to hear about your experience in school. I know that’s not every child’s experience, but sadly it is for many. It was at our small, church school (12 whole people) where I learned how to kiss at the age of 10 (really kiss) among other things too graphic to mention from a 15 year old.

    • 6 arrows says:

      You’re in my prayers, Hayley.

  8. Laura(yet another) says:

    I agree with you for the most part, Kelly, but I do wonder something… and this is something I wondered for myself growing up. To what extent is it the parents’ responsibility to provide specialized learning? I mean like music lessons and such? Living together as a family and working together and things can be great, but as my boys grow up, being at home with mama doing housework and schoolwork just isn’t going to cut it. I don’t want my boys to resent being homeschooled OR the decisions hubby and I have made for our family, but as a result of those decisions, we don’t have hardly any money for things beyond food, shelter, and transportation and such… and so often, interests to pursue require MONEY… whether you like it or not… and while perhaps there are ways to find someone to trade skills for lessons or barter, my exhausted brain with a 3 month old is too weary from day to day to come up with a solution… it’s hard to deal with the urgent present and balance that with vision for the future… especially when we don’t see any way of doing anything different in the future…

    • Heidi says:

      Laura,
      I completely understand where you’re coming from. We have 9 kids, 4 still living at home. You need to be in prayer concerning your kids interests and ask the Lord to provide if it is His will. We saw the Lord give our daughter a well made violin in excellent condition. Remember where your priorities are and that Scripture does not require us to provide our children with the “extras”, but with love, Biblical training and discipline. One of the blessings of homeschooling is building the desire and love of learning into our children, that they will use throughout their lives. Finances have almost always been very tight for us, but as our children have become adults who love and serve Christ, their church and their families, we have learned that the really important ‘things’ we gave our children have served them well. They may have grumbled as immature children, but they have ‘risen up and called me blessed’ as they’ve matured. Practically speaking, consider asking grandparents, etc for some of these extras instead of more useless toys. As your children become teens, they can work for others and save money for some of these extras themselves.
      Blessings,
      Heidi

  9. Jenny says:

    I really needed to hear this today!! I am in much the same position as Laura, and I do think with the extra blessing of more children (I am 34 and pregnant with number 8), also comes more grace. Laura, we need to pray for wisdom and guidance and a joyful spirit, so that what our children remember is a loving family, not a “lack of money!” There are programs for income challenged families who have children who want to play an instrument or on a sports team! I have found both in my town. Also, it’s far more special to have a real live mama looking after you, and have no extra activities, then to be separated from her and doing all sorts of magical things. Remember how important and finite your time with them is… If they are determined, the right activities will come as they mature and are able to persue them on their own!

  10. [...] in at Generation Cedar to read Kelly Crawford’s latest posts.  Her most recent, “You Have Too Many Children to Give Them What They Need“, is (as usual) very forthright and on topic with so much I see and hear in society today.  [...]

  11. Erin says:

    This is a timely post for me. Things have been so hard lately that I have started to wonder if we were wrong about having a large family, about me not working, about homeschool, pretty much everything. For the first time in my marriage I feel there is no hope of our financial situation ever improving despite the fact that my husband works 60-80 hours a week at his professional career. Just the basic bills and groceries have become a very real struggle for us, mostly due to a chronic medical condition in one of our children. It probably seems harder to me because I am truly on my own here, no family around and a husband whose shortest days are 11 hours. Because our church recently went through a painful split, I wanted to assure our pastor’s wife, whom I viewed as a friend, that it was only due to financial reasons that we stopped attending the evening service at church, gas prices are too high. Her response was like a slap in the face; she raised 8 children with a limited income so I guess I was hoping for encouragement not sharp criticism. Most of my friends have small families or much higher incomes, so I really feel alone in my struggles; like I’m hiding our difficulties from the world.

    Your post gave me encouragement that our children won’t look back with bitterness over the hard times.

    • Rebecca says:

      Thank you for writing this. It’s always nice to get encouragement for doing the right thing.

      I wanted to mention to one of the mom’s who said she was struggling financially, I think her name was Laura, that we too struggle financially sometimes but since I started couponing it’s gotten a little better. I buy 5 or 6 Sunday papers and go to http://www.couponmom.com or http://www.truecouponing.com (Christian) and they do all the research for sales. Every week items go on sale. Their advice is to stock up on the sale items for 12 weeks because everything goes on sale at least once every 12 weeks. This is not extreme couponing but really saves. Yesterday I went shopping for homeschool supplies. I went to three different stores, however I bought $167.13 worth of school supplies for $58.80. All of these supplies I will last a year or more for 3 children. I went to Walmart the day before and bought $145.00 worth of items for $38.00. For the first few months you might not notice a big difference because you are stocking up on sale items and using coupons with those sale items but later you will notice and you won’t have to pay full price again. As long as you aren’t brand-loyal you will do well and it really saves money and you feel like you are contributing to your families needs. Depending on what store your state is in, you can double coupon. There are only two stores in my state that double coupon…we don’t live near them. If your store does then you will be able to save more then me. :) My children help me cut coupons, do shopping budgets, and shop. It’s a great skill for them to have. Older children can take over couponing for you. My 21 year old son likes to coupon.

      Also check and see if you have a GLEANERS organization in your state. Gleaners is great!

    • Rebecca says:

      Oops…I mean Erin….sorry

  12. Sharlene says:

    I only birthed 2 children, but I do agree with you completely. Giving children what they need has nothing to do with the number you have or how much money you have in the bank. Most of the needs children have cannot be purchased. Enjoy your babies, whether it be 1 or 20. In the end of the whole scheme of things all that really counts is what they are given in preparation for eternity.

  13. Kris says:

    Materialism has definitely taken precedence over children. It has led to the degredation of society, which makes me wonder, are American children really the most loved? I think it could be said they are the best-provided for, but that doesn’t translate into love, as you so beautifully stated.

    • Bill says:

      Why would you think that parents in America love there children any less then parents around the world, sure there well dressed and some have the latest in technology, even the Duggar kids all sport new I Phones and such, and there mantra was buy used and save the difference, sure dont seem that way anymore

  14. Cmom says:

    Great article! My husband and I raised four children after three doctors said I would never bare any children. I struggled with the arrogance of some who pride themselves in the amount of children they had. It truly is up To God. What children need is love. love expressed to them by being responsible to care for their physical, spiritual and emotional needs. They NEED food. They need touch. They need attention, affirmation and admonishment when the time calls for it. It bothers me when parents don’t take seriously the responsibility they have for their offspring. When parents let the government feed, house, and educate their children. We did it the hard way. Didn’t accept any gov’t funding for anything, but always leaned on The Lord to provide when work wasn’t enough to cover our needs. Thought provoking post!

  15. Alyssa says:

    A quote from Matthew Henry is on my mind very often: “He who gives the mouths will give the meat.” We have been given one child so far early in our marriage – with plans to accept more and more with joy, and the ‘extras’ are already assumed to be something we won’t be giving our kids – money is tight already! I don’t worry about the extras though, so much as the literal needs of the child being met (“Sorry, just one spoonful of oatmeal each this morning, beloved 8th child”)so the above reminder from Henry is the one I need most. In affluent America, we are blessed if the most of our worries is that our children can’t have ipads, but they can have meat, vegetables, warm clothes, etc. And God knows how to provide those things!

  16. amy f says:

    awesome article…. this needs to be sent around the world. Maybe if parents did more face to face time we wouldn’t have things like over weight kids, bullying and as such. I try to get one on one time with all my children (7)We play board games, card games, Wii together. Go to the lake and just hang out in the back yard. and if God saw fit to gives us more we know He has a plan for them and we must follow it.

  17. Sarah C says:

    Very encouraging post. I’m pregnant with my fourth (due next month) and with this pregnancy we have experienced what I call large family bashing quite a bit. Some mild, “What about your other three kids?” to strangers loudly talking about how bad people are who have so many kids, to family members repeatedly worrying about how we will pay for college (a real concern) to my own Mom asking which of us was going to get ‘fixed’ since I’m 36 and obviously our birth controls not working, etc. We have little extra money for extras, but I so value getting to be home with my precious kids (we homeschool) and I won’t go ‘get a job’ and hand them off to someone else. It can be very hard though at times. Thank you for this post.

  18. Kelly says:

    Kelly,
    This post was such a blessing to me! I’m a new Christian and mother of two. We are striving to live the simple life for Him and keep our family the focus. My extended family thinks we are crazy because my children don’t have their own rooms, they don’t have latest gadgets and like you we often eat three meals a day at the table together.
    Thanks for the blessing!
    Kelly

  19. Laurie says:

    Sarah, I fully understand.

    We went to the point of not telling pretty much anyone, except for a very select few who did not judge, about our 5th pregnancy. It was a whole lot less stressful (and that was part of our purpose) until 2 months before. My sister decided that she “just had to tell mom…it wasn’t right” in her own eyes…even after being asked to not say anything for our sake…then it all blew up. My mom tried to manipulate and also claimed that I was angry with her and punished her by not telling her, when I was just protecting myself from judgement and stress and the “fixed” comment that I knew would come, and the “concern” that I was getting too old (I’m in my early 40s…just like my MIL who had all of her 5 in her early 40s, including triplets). I should add that I had had no issues in any of my pregnancies, except one miscarriage caused by a “safe” medication.

    Anyway, my mom also asked my MIL if I was mad at her too…because of that, I then got questioned about it from her (she would have never thought that on her own)…that hurt a lot. My MIL was actually happy that we had one more. She still wants us to have triplets (to which I say…I would rather not…lol, I’m tired enough at this age…one more is good). I hadn’t told her either since others in that side of the family were judgemental about our homebirthing choice for all of our babies.

    I have also been questioned on our decision to homeschool…those answers usually come easy to me. I have also been questioned in a backdoor sort of way about how do I do it all…I honestly said, “I don’t,” and then the real motive became apparent. This was from a public schooling mom who has 4. I only wish that my mind was fast enough to be able to reply with what I really do and what I don’t worry about. You do pick your priorities when you have many kids and homeschool. You have to. It becomes automatic to some extent and you don’t think about it after a while. Not “everything” can be done when you homeschool, live in the country and have many children. Oh well, live and learn. Hopefully I do better next time.

    I do appreciate this article. I have agreed with this point of view for a very long time. I fortunately have not had this question asked of me directly, but have read it on social forums. I hope that I will remember this answer if it comes to me directly. It is true. Children (whether you have one or more) do not need activities and stuff which causes discord, stress and strife, but instead…a stable home life.

    I enjoy your posts so very much! They are so honest and always timely. Thank you!

  20. Kelly L says:

    beautiful post!

  21. Cheri in Idaho says:

    Ahhh . . . thank you. My husband and I were having a version of this conversation this morning. I’ve decided I know very little about how things “should” be because my thoughts and God’s seem at odds (Isaiah 55:8-13). So I keep choosing God’s ways, and must not rely too much on what I see. God seems to send little encouragements; such as my teen telling me this week that she sees her Daddy and I didn’t get much to work with in life (as far as healthy relationships), but she feels she has everything! (This from a kiddo who calls to ask permission to borrows points from my total at the consignment store when she needs clothes. And yet somehow manages to look nice wherever she goes!) So if my teen feels she has “everything” when she certainly, from a material standpoint, does not have a ton, then she’s come away with more than I could have ever hoped: a teenager who realizes what’s truly important. Guess what?? Just that alone makes every sacrifice I’ve made worth it!!!

    But even more, I see that if that lovely teen goes through a time when she forgets the gifts of our home, and even if there’s not much encouragement, that amazing sense of peace in obedience to Christ is worth everything!! I keep picturing the end — facing God, realizing that I’ll have no regrets with how I spent my life. Godly peace is priceless. And it’s interesting, how when I’m busy ministering to the needs of my family, I don’t really have any time to compare what we have with others.

    The gifts of any home submitted fully to God are rich and many.

    • 6 arrows says:

      Cheri,

      I love Isaiah 55. It is such a comforting thought how God’s Word accomplishes exactly what He wishes it to, and it prospers, that we may (verse 12) “go out with joy, and be led forth with peace…”

      Thank you for calling to mind those verses.

  22. Bill says:

    lets be real, even public school kids who come from families that are not that well off understand that they also cannot have the latest in everything

    • Kimberly says:

      In response to Bill, I want to say I agree with you in part, but those children in public school do not get to spend the hours journeying through daily life with those who love them the most. Yes, there are some very good teachers out there who truly love the students they teach, but they have more than 6 or 10 in their classroom to devote time an attention to. Time, love, attention, encouragement, life skills, love, admonishment, love, Christian example, time, love (I hope you get the idea) are more easily sown and grown in the children when parents get to spend more hours per day with their children.

  23. Stacy McDonald says:

    Thank you, Kelly, for this wonderful post! You hit the nail on the head!

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