BONHAM, Texas (BP)–Recently on NBC’s “The Today Show,” host Matt Lauer interviewed the Duggar family. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are the Arkansas couple who just welcomed into the world their 17th child.
Among some Americans, typical reactions have included, “Are those people crazy?” and “Don’t they know what causes that?” But among homeschooling families like the Duggars, a greater openness to having more than two children has prompted such responses as, “Isn’t that wonderful! I’d love to get to know those people and see how they do it,” or “Only five more kids and we’ll catch up to them.” I wasn’t too surprised to find out during the course of the interview that they were talking about having more.
Homeschoolers do seem to be a bit different, since most other families are very content to have only two or three children. That seemed to be the reasoning of Matt Lauer who, in spite of acknowledging children are a gift from God, asked, “At what point do you have enough gifts?” He also asked whether after 15 deliveries — they have two sets of twins — having a baby was a little “ho-hum?” Since when is a miracle something you don’t want any more of? How could the birth of a precious baby ever be described as ho-hum?
It was all too obvious that Lauer didn’t understand the Duggars nor did he approve of their convictions. He asked the older kids if they ever felt “jealous” of kids who were in smaller families because of the amount of time their parents could spend with them. The oldest son, Joshua, answered with a clear “no.” He explained that it is not uncommon for a homeschool family to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with one another. Their interests are each other and what each other member of the family is doing.
Among homeschooling families such as ours — we have seven kids — our children’s best friends are their brothers and sisters and mom and dad. Our mornings don’t consist of that mad rush to get everyone up and awake, dressed and fed and ready to get out of the door on time as Lauer described in his introduction to the Duggar interview. In a homeschooling household, our day begins when we awaken, not when we leave the house to our separate locations. We don’t have to all be ready when school starts because teaching the five-year-old to tie his shoes just might be the curriculum for that day.
I realize that large families are not for everyone, but when did it become a bad thing to have kids? When did children become less important than well, just about anything else?
Our family of nine once visited the Dallas/Fort Worth area and while there we searched for a park to provide a break for play. But the only park with which we were familiar was closed to prepare for a festival, and all the roads were blocked.
We figured we could easily find another park. Aren’t cities full of places for kids to play? We drove around for over an hour and finally saw what we were looking for — a park. We could see fields of cut grass and towering trees. In between the trees, we could see bright colors of red and yellow and blue. It had to be a park! There must be a playground over yonder hill.
Much to our surprise, there was a playground, but it was for dogs. We all sat there in our 15-passenger van, wide-eyed, alternately blinking and then staring in disbelief — a park with playground equipment for dogs to enjoy. Not one place for a child to run and frolic, not one swing to push, not one slide for a kid. They even had sack dispensers for the owners to throw away their dog’s poop. Now I have been to some really nice parks, but I have never seen sack dispensers for a baby’s diapers. I realize many people view their dogs as their children, but I had not realized the degree to which cities have embraced that shift in thinking.
I don’t think everyone should have a dozen or so kids, but what has happened when a society as a whole condemns you for having and wanting that many children? Scripture tells us in Psalm 127:3-5 that “[t]he fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed….”
Doesn’t Scripture also say in Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil”? Christians need to ask some hard questions when a large family is treated as though they should be ashamed.
Susann Hall is a homeschooling mother who lives in Bonham, Texas.