Encouragement for Big Families

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"Encouragement for big families" by Hilary Thompson (CatholicMom.com)

Via Pixabay.com (2014), CC0 Public Domain

“Two in diapers? You need to put a TV in your bedroom.”

It was almost a month ago, but that comment still gets my blood boiling. It had been a horrible Sunday, I didn’t think two kids was all that extreme, and I was in Church, the last place I expected criticism.

It doesn’t matter where you are, unfortunately. A young woman living out God’s call to be fruitful and multiply is almost unavoidably beset upon with smart comments. Praise God, I have a family and in-laws that will never tire of babies, but that is definitely the exception. Parents freak out when their adult children make what they perceive to be “unwise reproductive choices.” Strangers glare at you when you hold up the grocery line. No parenting choice garners such mommy shame as the choice to have a large family.

After a month of stewing, I finally decided that wasn’t productive and reached out for advice. I emailed my old homeschool group (a veritable treasure trove of big families) and asked for advice, encouragement, and maybe a good clapback.

These women have been in the trenches for years, some of them decades. They understand how challenging, but incredibly beautiful it is to answer God’s call to motherhood, and to continue to be open to his blessings of children. Here is what they had to say:

“I am a witness to all with my big family.” -Tarah

JPII, in his Theology of the Body has a great description of marital love and how it mirrors the Holy Trinity. He says that the Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father so much, that it creates another person: the Holy Spirit. The family is like that: husbands and wives love each other, and the children are a creation of that love. Every child we have is a living witness of Divine Love. Even when they are throwing a tantrum.

“The worst I have had was from my own father, who I cautiously told of my 10th pregnancy, and he responded with “oh, no!”  Now, he could not think of life without our little Mary, and loves her to pieces.” -Michelle

With parents, this seems to be how it goes. They may not be excited initially about the size of your family, but it can’t last. Grandparents can’t help loving their grandkids any more than we can help loving our own kids.

“The bottom line is your know the direction you want your children to go. You know what you will tolerate and not tolerate. It’s none of their business.” -Annie

Annie definitely had the most helpful response for me. I am the one with responsibility for my children. It doesn’t mean a thing at all what people think, even if it hurts.

“Most of the grocery store type comments I interpreted as light-hearted.  People generally didn’t mean harm; they just wanted to chat. … people usually don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. They just want to sound clever and make connections to the lady standing next to them.” -Teresa

I need to print this out and stick it on my bathroom mirror. While there are people who have their opinions, I think Teresa nails it. People just like to be clever, even if what they say comes off as hurtful. It’s not worth worrying what people think, because in all honesty, they probably don’t think about you as harshly as you feel they do.

Don’t be scared to have kids and be a witness to God’s Love. Later in her reply, Teresa told me that these were the sweetest years of her life. So young moms, lets not let some ol’ busybody ruin it for us. Children are one of the greatest ways that we are blessed!

"Encouragement for big families" by Hilary Thompson (CatholicMom.com)

Copyright 2017 Hilary Thompson. All rights reserved.

And next time someone comments on your number of children, just tell them what Carol used to:

“Yes, and they will help pay for your social security someday.”

How do you remind yourself to focus on your family rather than how you are perceived?


Copyright 2017 Hilary Thompson

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About Author

Hilary Thompson is a young wife and mother of two boys living in southeast Michigan. She has been playing the organ for Mass since she was twelve years old, and works as a music minister on weekends. You can find more of her work at "Messy Buns & Latin Chant."

1 Comment

  1. I loved the “even when they are throwing a tantrum.” That is such a good reminder to have in order to keep perspective. It has also been helping me lately to frame challenges with parenting (such as tantrums) by thinking about how marriage, including my kids, is my pathway to sanctity and that I can grow so much by the ups and downs that come with being a wife and mom. A few years back I didn’t have a solid concept in the Catholic lens for marriage (even though I have been married 15 years now!), and it was such a game changer to understand through the wisdom of the Church.

    Thank you for the encouragement – both serious and comic relief when navigating others’ reactions to family size.

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