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Families are too small these days

Families in America and in other western countries are too small these days. They barely keep up with the replacement rate (2.1 children per couple) and in some countries like Spain, the rate is so miniscule, the population will be almost halved in a generation. But statistics aside, there is…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Families in America
and in other western countries are too small these days. They barely keep up with the replacement rate
(2.1 children per couple) and in some countries like Spain, the rate is so miniscule,
the population will be almost halved in a generation.
But statistics aside, there is a very common sensical reason why families
need to be bigger.

In small families, you as a child become more inflexible and
demanding. You rarely have to compete
for resources and often find yourself being consulted for your opinion. You acquire an opinion of your own importance
that is sadly out of synch with reality in the cruel world outside the four
walls of your home.

In contrast, big families are a Darwinian,
survival-of-the-fittest free-for-all – you are definitely not the center of your
own universe. Anything you can claim as
your own you are darn glad for. By
virtue of the fact that you are sharing bathrooms and wearing hand-me-downs,
you are afforded protection from the narcissism that is in full flower in our
society. You learn thankfulness for even
small things.

Ben Messner made this point about a rather large family in India: “I was deeply challenged
tonight as I listened to an incredible man from India (Babu
CJ) share how he was the father to 300 children! He began
inviting orphans into his home about four years ago, and now his family has
grown to over 300. This man is not just
a leader who tells stories to get money or make a point about how people should
care about orphans. He knows each of
them by name, and he knows all the details of their story. He has suffered intense persecution on their
behalf. He is their father.”

If you read the
about Pastor Walter in Swaziland,
you’ll recall the tragedy that he is up against as most children in his
community are refugees from their own families, families devastated by HIV/AIDS. Pastor Walter is the only father figure many
of them know. Walter and Babu don’t have
the luxury of getting a perfect plan together to address the needs of the
children they have taken into their homes.
Their “strategic plan” is to open their homes to any needy children who happen
to wander by looking for a crust of bread.

When someone asks me, “Do you think we should have another
child?” I tell them, “Absolutely – it will
be the best thing you ever did! We need
more of the kind of world changers you’re going to raise!” Better yet, move to India
or Swaziland
and help Babu or Walter take care of the hundreds of sons and daughters that
they’ve adopted into their families. I
think they’d tell you, families are too small these days.

Comments (7)

  • There is an equally deep issue in the West that is the antithesis of Ben’s comment about Babu. Babu knows the details of 300 children. Many two-income families don’t take the time to know the details of their 2.1 children. Just having children is not the answer, but caring for the children is the deeper call.

  • I can’t let this go by. Preach it, Seth and don’t stop. I am so weary and forever stunned to hear Christian’s attitudes towards having children. How can we call the Church up to discipleship if they have no heart or time to do it with their own chidren? This is an area that the Church has unashamedly taken out of God’s hands and taken over for themselves, birthed out of mistrust, greed, and rebellion – knowingly or not. The bottom line is we don’t want to deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Jesus in this most basic area of children and family. And we think children are for us, having lost the vision for the Kingdom. (God is seeking godly offspring.) Listen to the arguments for abortion and “family planning.” They are one and the same. We really just don’t want to lay down our lives for people. I’m grateful not only for Pastor Walter in Swaziland, but for those who have raised many children in the Lord, and know why they’ve been entrusted with them. And, oh yes, God is faithful to provide.

  • I agree very much with Kathy. My thoughts were that the reality is the parents that are having kids right now (my generation) is also narcissistic (sp.). We have grown up having it all as boomer’s kids.
    The wrestle that I hear among my peers comes down to the core issue of not wanting to give up the right to control their lives. And children are the ultimate tool that God uses to teach us this. With one or two children we can still hold onto our control. More than two…you have pretty much lost your life. I heard a friend say to me, “It is not about raising children but about becoming a parent. Learning to truly put others before yourself.” Kathy thank you so much for your statement about Children not being for us…but for the kingdom…that is a radical statement. Our society is so much about US, ME…It is like the seagulls on Nemo who annoyingly repeat “MINE, MINE, MINE.”

  • being in a big family was the best way to grow up. I loved it. I entirely agree and plan on having a small sports team of my own.

    haven’t read the father articles yet, but I’m sure they’re great – you were the best dad ever! love you daddy!:)

  • Interesting perspective.
    I also think a lot about the separation of family in the US. In most of the world, people are closely connecteds to their family. In the US, we try so desperately to be independant from them. I think we could learn a lot about keeping the ties of extended family as well.

  • As a mom of seven, I can relate a lot to what you wrote.

    You know what’s funny…I had asked God for years and years to help me quit being a lazy and undisciplined person. One day, after we had given birth to our 5th or 6th child, it hit me…God had answered my prayers. As much as I still want to be lazy a lot of the time, having a lot of kids puts a limit to how much I can give way to my flesh.

    Even just the basics of keeping clean underwear on them, cooking meals, and teaching them basic academics (we homeschool) means that I’m going to have my work cut out for me.

    My heart still needs work. Basically, I’m still pretty selfish and slothful, but at least my actions are having to do something else and maybe one day my heart and motives will catch up with the outside.

    Sometimes my kids complain because they can’t have as much or do as much as their friends who have only one or no siblings. But my hope is that one day they will appreciate their brothers and sisters and what our big, crazy family did positively in their lives.

    I know I can already see it…even if they can’t…or don’t want to.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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