Too Many Children – My Reply

This week’s Tuesday Topic was from Campbell who I replied to via email, but I also want to share my reply here.

Campbell’s question was:

Upon reading the difficulty you had in finding only 15 minutes in a day to spend with one of your children (GIMH Rockin’ Mama Challenge) I had to ask myself why a person would have so many children. I’ve always been of the mindset that people can have too many children and that when they do, it’s unfair to the children as they cannot possibly receive as much attention as they need, and deserve.

For context, I’m an adopted person who is not anti adoption. I am not religious and do not subscribe to adoption being any group’s God’s will and I do believe in hugging/cuddling children of any age that want it.

Here is my email reply:

Yes, I do think there are people who take on more than they should and the children are not well cared for.  I don’t think that is the case in our family at all.  My children range in age from 23 to 4.  My oldest two daughters no longer live at home – one is in medical school and the second got married last summer.  Two others are in college and live at home to save money, but they come and go quite independently.  That leaves me with seven children who still need more daily care.  Although, I have to say, my big kids definitely still need me and I spend lots of time talking with them.

The struggle I had with the Rocking Challenge was that I was supposed to spend the time completely alone with my daughter.  That was the hardest part!  I enjoyed rocking her, talking with her, reading, etc., but she got irked anytime another child came to the door or needed my attention.  Since she is in school most of the day, we often rocked in the evening, and there were lots of little needs at that time of day.  Eventually we found our groove and we rocked after my husband took the younger four kids up to tuck  them in.  That left only my junior high and high schoolers up and they had no problem giving us time alone.

I noticed in the comments, that my daughter, Mimi, said much the same thing:

Mom, I think it could be valuable to explain to people that The Rocking Chair is also in the middle of the busy family room, so before you can rock Honeybee, you have to make sure every child is engaged in an activity in another room that will keep them completely occupied for 15 minutes – no easy task! So it’s not even just an issue of YOU finding 15 minutes. It’s an issue of creating activities for all the other kiddos that will keep them happy, safe, and occupied for the full amount of time, without coming to you with questions/comments/concerns 🙂 Mimi

Like Mimi said, it isn’t the rocking and time spent with my child that is hard, it’s clearing the room and getting everyone else occupied that is the challenge.  Since our 28 day Challenge ended, we have continued to rock  and snuggle up in the chair, but often with others in the room.  There is no lack of affection — just lack of solitude!

I also would like to add that although having a large family doesn’t allow for as much one-on-one time with children, it creates an entirely different atmosphere of interdependence and devotion that I enjoy very much.  Our plate is full right now, possibly even overflowing, but there is blessing in the workload we carry and joy in our family.

Thank you for a good discussion everyone.  If you would like to add a comment, it is not too late, we would love to hear from you.

There is a Giveaway coming -stay tuned!

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

0 Comments

  1. Chrissy
    February 9, 2011

    I am very grateful that you posted this tonight, as my husband and I are considering welcoming our 7th child (a 26 week preemie boy through foster/adopt) into our home. Perfect timing. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. One Thankful Mom
      February 9, 2011

      Chrissy – that is lovely! I can't stop thinking about foster care…

      Reply
    2. Jillian
      February 9, 2011

      precious! will be praying for his placement and health!

      Reply
  2. heather
    February 9, 2011

    We were not able to do the rocking challenge for the same reason you found it difficult to clear the room for 15 minutes. We only have 4 kids, but all are 8 and under, 2 have disabilities. However, i was able to give her a massage at night during the routine of putting lotion on her back. Instead of just putting on the lotion for dry skin, I've been massaging it onto her back, with her cuddled up against me. And since this has always been our routine in the dark just before bed, it was easy to just extned the time.

    All this to say that even with only 4 kids, I had a hard time finding time for the challenge. From the reading I've done about you, I believe you are a fantastic mom who knows her limitations, leans on the Lord, and follows His guidance. Thank you for your Godly example. It's my prayer taht more people in the world would become willing to give up the life they have in order to lead the life God would have them lead.
    Blessings,
    Heather

    Reply
    1. One Thankful Mom
      February 9, 2011

      Heather, I am glad you found your own way to connect with your daughter. Thank you for your thoughts.

      Reply
  3. Jillian
    February 9, 2011

    I have found that "Vivace" prefers not to rock, but to sit across the table from each other and have 15 min of "all about him time"…possibly as a signer this is more ideal so that we can sign and talk…he enjoys this and it is easier on me too 🙂 We made that work for now…the other kids bio and adopted enjoy rocking 🙂

    Reply
  4. carla
    February 10, 2011

    I think that caring for children in general, especially those with special needs, is a gift God has definitely given you. Even though it can be difficult at times, I can tell in the tone of your writings that your heart desires to love these children and help them heal no matter what it takes. And in my experience, if you have more than two children, it becomes a challenge to have one-on-one time with them, but if you want it you can make it happen in different ways. To a child just a few minutes is a lot when they know they have your undivided attention. I can't imagine any child not getting what they need in your household because you are so in tune to their needs. Your desire to help children goes even beyond your family because of this blog. I know plenty of families who only have a couple of children and their needs aren't meant because the parents are pursuing their own goals and dreams outside of family. So keep on following God's path for you and your family. I have no doubt that many more children will be blessed and loved by you even if you don't adopt anymore. Blessings to you sweet sister in Christ!

    Reply
  5. Leslee
    February 10, 2011

    I've not had a chance to read the other replies and perhaps someone else has commented like this, but I have to say that more children does not equate with less love. I can liken the right number of children to choosing the RIGHT church or school for your children. Not a single one is PERFECT – we are human after all – but each is DIFFERENT and whereas many things may be missing in one senario, there are many other things to be delighted in and blessed by on the chosen path that would not exist on another.
    In our family of five children I find myself often having to swallow hard at times that I am not able to sit down one on one with one of my younger children at a particular moment – especially when I remember how much individual attention my older two children got from me – but then I fill with delight when one of those same older children step in and shepherd a younger child through a certain difficulty. Do I wish I could've been there? Sometimes. Do I think I ought to have been there? Sometimes. Do I think my children are short changed? Rarely. It's not PERFECT, it's just DIFFERENT and since it is all we know it becomes PERFECTLY US!

    Reply
    1. Emily
      February 10, 2011

      I love your perspective here, Leslee. We have four (8 & under), and so often I, too, feel sad that there is so much "just a minute" in my day. But then, I watch my littlest be the center of so much attention, or my 3rd being read to by her brother, and I know–they haven't lost out at all. In fact they have gained so much more.

      My own mama always used to berate my sister and me when we would fight by saying, "Don't hurt your relationship with each other. You will never have the same history with another person as with your sibling–she's your friend for life. Your parents will die before you (most likely), and your spouse will meet you later in life (most likely), but your sister will share almost your entire life history." How wonderful to have so many to share that with.

      Reply
  6. Fiona
    February 10, 2011

    I love what you say here about the interdependance a large family brings. In the past year we went from 3 kids to 5 and I have seen all of the kids start to watch out for each other, especially the older two Bio kids for whom life seems to be so much less about them than us now. I am thankful not just for the new additions, but for the opportunity it has given for growth and development in my other children.

    Reply
  7. charity
    February 10, 2011

    I am the second oldest of twelve children, now a mother of seven of my own…hopeful for some others to join our family through adoption in our future. honestly, there have been moments in my young life when i wondered why it wasn't all about me…and there are still some days as an adult that i wonder that. (I'm sure that tendency exists in all people.) But while i wish the whole world could have revolved around me, that is not the way of life…and it is setting our children up for difficulty to imply that because we love them, we can remold the world to make them the center of it,( at least not far beyond infancy!) Whether there is only one child or a houseful, it is a fine balance between indulging every whim and teaching them to be independent functioning adults.

    Reply
  8. charity
    February 10, 2011

    Even when there is not enough time to go around, if you have intentionally loving parenting happening, the children feel those threads woven into their lives. They carry you through the days when other's needs must be met first. So many of life's difficult lessons are learned in the crucible of a large family, things that we each need to learn, and which many are forced to learn for themselves during college. Also, I felt very prepared to walk into my role as a mother to my own children, by having lived in a large family. So I wonder if the question should be altered to ask more than "are our children receiving all of the time and love and attention we could possibly give them?"…to ask "are we lovingly preparing our children the best we can for their futures?"

    Reply
  9. charity
    February 10, 2011

    Certainly providing love, time, and teaching moments helps create a stable foundation. I struggle with the idea prevalent in today's society that we somehow deserve all of our loved one's time and attention. not having exclusive parental attention isn't the same as having no one's attention. There is a noticeable difference in an only child whose parents have no time for him, and a child in a large family who shares time between parents and siblings. No loving parent can spend all of their time with a child, even if they only have one. The idea that this is the only path to success would eliminate all of us, and everyone else on the planet from effective parenting!

    Reply
  10. Sara
    February 11, 2011

    I just love that your daughter reads and comments on your blog. That speaks of the depth of the precious relationship you have with your older children as well.

    Reply
    1. One Thankful Mom
      February 11, 2011

      Thank you Sara, I love it too. Of course, sometimes she calls me to tell me I have a typo, which I also appreciate! Mimi just graduated from college with a BS in Public Relations and a second BA in Creative Writing. Maybe one day she'll do some writing here for me!

      Reply
  11. Sandra
    February 11, 2011

    Thank you for this post. It was perfectly timed for me. My husband and I just added two foster children to our family that we hope to adopt. And when we started this, I thought well that will be the end for us, but having found out the other day that the birth mom is expecting again and being asked if it comes to the point of removing this child would we want the child as well. You know, we're seriously thinking of it. Of course we don't have any biological children and this would only be child number 3, which is by no means too many – but its more than we thought of. I agree that as long as you can provide a loving home then it's never too many.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer
      March 11, 2011

      This is how our third child came to us…and our fifth child as well! We have never regretted the decision to adopt each of our children. God has very obviously thrown the doors open–and we get to bask in the blessing (and work!) of it all!

      Reply
  12. Teresa
    February 11, 2011

    Too many children? Absolutely! Too many in foster care, too many living on the streets, too many in orphanages…but never, ever, too many in families!

    Reply
    1. Jennifer
      March 11, 2011

      AMEN!

      Reply
  13. learningpatience
    February 11, 2011

    I've been thinking about this post since I read it. It makes me think about how when I had my first child, I spent hours and hours just staring at her, watching her, taking pics of her, and cuddling her. I remember peaceful morning nursing and lots of time in the rocking chair. That little girl was a (terrifically spunky) two year old when her brother was born; I spent a lot of time chasing her and caring for her and keeping her alive . . . and I don't remember as much snuggling with my second. There was plenty, just probably not as much, and I'm sure it wasn't as peaceful. But those two kids were two peas in a pod – even at a young age. They would crawl into bed together and sleep snuggled up, and they adored each ohter! Then the next two came, and I am fairly sure that I am spread more thin . . . but they have each other. They are an amazing foursome! And sometimes I still miss those hours of watching every movement of just one child, but they all get these amazing relationships that weren't available back in those days. Our home is richer and more full for having more lives, more personalities, more love. There is more love, not less . . . even if that means that each of the kids doesn't get as much of me!

    Reply
    1. Jennifer
      March 11, 2011

      I couldn't agree with you more! The richness and depth of love is amazing. Last night we celebrated the anniversary of our third child's adoption day. We started a tradition last year on birthdays and adoption celebrations. We go around the table and say one thing that we like about having that person in our family. Last night it was especially touching. Our daughter was beaming with feelings of love. We came to her oldest sister (they had been quarreling throughout the day). The loving words being spoken filled their hearts. They wrapped their arms around each other and cried tears of gratefulness and forgiveness. You're right, our children don't just have us–they have each other. What a gift each one is!

      Reply
  14. Michelle
    February 12, 2011

    My bio daughter had me to herself for 4 years and she is the biggest proponent of increasing our family…she says "more people for me to love and more people to love me". She is 7 now and still tries to get me to buy new beds when we are at the store so we will have more room for new brothers and sisters. I rocked my 9yo daughter after the others were in bed because our rocker is in the playroom…talk about a difficult time getting her alone in the rocker! Absolutely growing up in a big family vs. a small family gives you a different experience but I don't think anyone can say that one is better than the other! Although I have my opinion! hahaha!

    Reply

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