A plea for grace for large families

I’ve read a few posts in the last few weeks in favor of large families (here’s an example by Your Modern Family) and I couldn’t help but chime in.This isn’t a post to convince others to have more kiddos, but to ask for grace for those of us who choose (and are blessed) to fill our houses.

A plea for grace for those who have large families- on purpose!

We’ve got 4 children and are debating whether we are “done” or not. We realize we are part of a small number of people in our generation who chose to have large families on purpose. Although we haven’t been subject to too many cruel remarks like others who have large numbers of offspring, it is interesting to me that families of any size commonly get advice from complete strangers about the number of kids they should have!

Many times when we’re in public I get mad or annoyed stares from strangers- even when my children are behaving! When we do complimented, I make sure to thank the person profusely- because it just doesn’t happen that often.

I asked others who have large families if they’ve received negative comments*. They said that people in public would say anything from, “Don’t you know what causes babies?” to “You’re going to turn into a mom who goes nuts and kills her kids if you keep having more.” Um, what?

Since when are children the enemy?

When we had our first, Landon, 9 years ago, he was born with a rare liver disease. Even though it threw us into a major whirlwind, we knew we definitely wanted more. By the time he was 10 months old, our Allison was on the way. When she was born, we had what many would call a “complete” family within a 19-month span. Everyone from the older ladies at church to old friends from high school I ran into congratulated us on “the perfect family”- as if we had ANYTHING to do with their gender!

My body was definitely ready for a little break- I was  pregnant and/or breastfeeding for a solid 3.5 years- throw in a baby who required lots of medical attention in the first year, 2 C-sections, making a major move, and planting a church, 2 was good for us for a time.

However, Ben and I both knew that our family wasn’t complete yet. In early 2010 I found out I was pregnant with #3. I was completely elated and so was Ben. Number four- our Canaan, came a littler earlier than we “planned” but he has been a 100% delight in our family.


Here’s where I told Ben #4 was on the way. He was just excited this time as the first! (You can read the story of how I broke the news here.)

Then, on the other end of the spectrum, are the families who choose to only have one. People seem to find it okay to tell them they need more. If they already have a boy, they “need” to try for a girl, and vice versa- as if they have any control over the gender of their children!

It really seems that two offspring is the only acceptable number to most Americans!

When I think I never would know the cute bundle of sassiness that is Evie, or the undying affection of a Mama’s boy that is Canaan, it makes me very sad. I know that large families aren’t for everyone- but please be understanding to those of us who do! In fact- if you really want to be unique, have us over for dinner! 😉

Do you have a large family? What advice do you have for other large families?


*the moms who answered my “survey” also said they received encouraging comments as well, not all negative. :)

About Kelli Hays

Kelli Hays is a wife, mother, writer, and friend. She has been blogging since 2008 and loves sharing inspiration for the everyday woman!


  1. I just love this post! But I think it really should be a plea for grace for families all sizes. :) Everyone seems to have an opinion they’re not afraid to share. We have a few friends with 5 & 6 kids and they get all kinds of comments from friends and strangers alike. It seems like among my friends and acquaintances 3 or 4 is more accepted but anything more isn’t. Like it’s anyone’s business! We only have one for several reasons but mostly because it was God’s will and we get many comments about needing siblings, being spoiled,etc. I would have loved to have 4 or 5 so I love seeing big families. My husband is one of 13 and he really wanted a small family so that’s part of the reason we just have one. I truly think we are all given the family we are meant to have and I know that we have done so many things (mostly traveling) that were possible with one but wouldn’t have been with 5 so I try to remember that when I get down about not having that big family. And spending Christmas with the in-laws usually cures me for a bit! :)

  2. This is one of those areas where I don’t know why people feel they can speak into anyone else’s life. There is a sweet family at our church who really feels that they want to have as many kids as they have naturally. They had six girls and just had a boy over a year ago. When she got pregnant again, people went bananas with comments because people thought they were “trying” for a boy and couldn’t figure out why they’d keep going. She confessed in tears to me that she didn’t want to announce until she was visibly showing because she didn’t want to hear the comments. It’s sad! I also have friends who truly DON’T want children, despite being in a great, committed relationship. Having children is so hard and I feel like people who realize this and chose NOT to have them should also be spared harassment. Let’s all let each other be and realize that we don’t know what is right for someone else and their family. Love this post!

  3. We have five children and have heard all the comments referenced. The number of kids a family has is personal choice and others always have an opinion. The worst was when comments were made within ear-shot of my kids. Yes, things it can be hard at times but the rewards are great. I can’t imagine our lives any other way.

  4. Hannah Martin says:

    Love this Kelli. Thanks for sharing your heart. i think some people are held back by fear from having more than 2 children (i know i’m one!). my mother is one of 5 and my dad is 1 of 4 and i tell you as a cousin, it was always nice to have so many aunts, uncles and cousins growing up!
    I will admit that there are many people who should not procreate but good loving christian families should take joy in growing up multiples for the next generation! :)

  5. Lorin Stubblefield says:

    I have three. They are close together in age and my husband and I knew that we wanted three. Period. The end. People make comments about how close they are in age, about us finally getting that girl (the third), about being out numbered with more than two, and so on. But the fact is, we wanted three, no matter what the gender and we are happy with our family as it is. If the Lord chooses for us to have more, then so be it, but I feel at peace with our little family. No matter the size or whether or not people choose to have any at all, that is their choice and no one should judge them for their choice! Just my opinion.

  6. Candice Deskins says:

    I love your artical. We have 3 kids all adopted and are definitely not done. It amazes me when people tell me not to adopt more kids. Why do all the kids that needs homes have one? Or when people ask why my kids are a different race. I love having a big family and it is nice to hear others like it too.


  7. I wanted more children, but it didn’t turn out that way. The world is more and more anti-family. Sad.

  8. We also have 4 – all boys, so we get a mix of “you are nuts” and “are you going for the girl”?! It’s maddening!
    Thanks for writing about this – I will share on my FB page!

  9. Life is beautiful~ Each heartbeat is a gift from our incredible Creator~ Be blessed, sweet mama!


  10. I have three kids and interestingly enough I didn’t get negative comments until I moved. In Las Vegas we knew tons of people with large families so ours was considered average sized. But here in Raleigh most people have 1 -2 kids and we stand out. I guess where you live plays into it as well.

  11. This is a great post! Growing up most of my friends and acquaintances had large families….several families with 9 kids…one with 12…..and one with 14. I’m always surprised these days when people are shocked at the “big families” with only 3 or 4 kids. 😉

  12. I thought four was our magic number but it turns out we have a blended family of seven! Never a dull moment in our house and would never want it any other way. We get both the negative and good comments. Those saying “bless our hearts” and those saying we are absolutely crazy and think they are in a place to tell us when we should stop having children. To each their own, we wouldn’t have it any other way. <3 our big family.

  13. We are expecting baby #5, quite unexpectedly! I am ashamed to admit I didn’t tell anyone about our fourth pregnancy until I was almost 8 months along, because I dreaded the comments so much. Most of the comments I get are from older people, who I would expect would be more open to large families since in their generation it was more common. Most of the time I get “are they all yours” or “do they have the same father” or “is your tv broken” and they are all in front of my children as if they cannot hear. I am blessed beyond measure with my family and a little Grace from strangers would go a really long way.


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